Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
“People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn’t stop you from having your own opinion.”
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl.
A young girl goes into hiding with her family to escape the Nazi terror. For over two years, she maintains a personal record of her life at the “Secret Annex.” Today, her diary is considered to be one the most “moving personal documents to come out of World War II.”
I took quite a long time to read “The Diary.” The first few pages hardly looked like they belonged to the diary of a thirteen-year-old girl. My suspicion was somewhat true. A quick search on the internet showed that the version of the book in circulation has been edited. According to this source, Anne Frank had rewritten parts of her original diary in hopes that it would be published after the war. Some of the pages of her work were lost after the raid. Her Father, Otto Frank, also revised the work before approving it for publication. I am not trying to undermine Anne Frank’s work. She had a talent for writing, but her diary is not verbatim.
Few of the best entries in the diary are those dealing with Anne Frank’s self-perception. She writes about her two personalities; one is the casual, carefree Anne whilst the second is a mysterious Anne who keeps her thoughts to herself. This sense of awareness and the talent of looking beyond the obvious shows that Anne was a gifted writer.
“ I am the best and sharpest critic of my own work. I know myself what is and what is not well written. Anyone who doesn’t write doesn’t know how wonderful it is; I used to bemoan the fact that I couldn’t draw at all, but now I am more than happy that I could at least write. And if I haven’t any talent for writing books or newspaper articles, well, then I can always write for myself.” – Anne Frank.
The Diary of Young Girl is a moving tale of sheer helplessness. At a certain point, Anne believes that it would be best if she is captured because she is tired of living underground. She talks about the pathetic conditions that she is living in; the constant bickering amongst the inhabitants of Secret Annex, the stale food, the fear of being captured and killed.
Understanding Anne Frank’s popularity
Why is Anne Frank’s diary so popular? Surely, there were several journals maintained during World War II. Here is a list of personal stories from WW2. As several writers have pointed out, the 1955 Pulitzer-winning play and the subsequent movie based on the diary made Anne Frank a symbol for human suffering during the holocaust. The diary’s inclusion in American schools also led to it gaining traction amongst the general public.
If you are planning to read the book, I suggest you watch this video of the Secret Annex to understand Franks’ a basic layout of the building. I also advise against watching movies based on her life before reading her diary. Anne Frank can only be known through her own words. However, do read about the environment that Anne grew up in to understand the political and cultural references within the book.
The legacy of Anne Frank is not confined to pages of history books. Back in November 2015, Otto Frank was made the “co-author” of the popular book by Basel-based Anne Frank Fund. The change in authorship means that the copyright on the diary extends to the end of 2050 in Europe ( instead of this year) and 2047 in the U.S.
A court in Amsterdam has recently said that researchers can copy the diary for scientific investigation.
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