Anne Frank: The Diary Of a Young Girl That Touched The Hearts of Millions

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Anne Frank’s diary, written between 1912 and 1944 in hiding in Amsterdam, is the most widely read document about the Nazi crimes, and it has made Anne Frank one of the best-known figures of our time. (Müller Melissa, pg. 1) She once wrote in her diary that “It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” (Anne Frank > Quotes, January 23, 2018) She was four when she left her home in Germany, thirteen when she went into hiding, and not yet sixteen when she died in a concentration camp. (Müller, Melissa, pg. 1)

Can you imagine being punished just for being who you are? Or because you look, think, or feel different from those around you? This is what happened to many people in Europe in the 1930s and ‘40s. It started when a group of Nazis took over the country of Germany under the leadership of an evil man named Adolf Hitler. They hated many people, but they treated Jews the worst. (Zapruder Alexandra, pg. 4-6) Anne Frank is a world-famous diarist and World War II Holocaust victim. When she was in hiding, she wrote about her experiences and wishes. Her diary was published in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl. (Biography.com Editors, November 20, 2017) (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, January 16, 2018) Despite her life being short, her legacy will always live on. She has inspired countless young people, including myself. (Müller Melissa, pg. 1-5) In this paper, we will explore the early life, accomplishments, and legacy of Anne Frank.

Anne Frank was born Annelies Marie Frank on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017) She was born at 7:30 in the morning at a women’s clinic. The birth had not gone smoothly. The baby, 21 inches long and a healthy 8 ½ pounds, had had trouble breathing. Anne’s crying would continue without stopping during the next few weeks and keep her mother awake most nights. (Müller Melissa, pg. 12-17) Anne’s mother was Edith Frank. (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017) In her diary, she accuses her mother of being cold and tactless. She also says that it is her mother’s fault for the dynamic of their relationship. Anne thinks there is nothing about her mother that is actually motherly, and often wishes she could have a caring, warm mother to turn to. She wrote on December 24, 1943 that, “Despite all my theories and efforts, I miss – every day and every hour of the day – having a mother who understands me. That’s why with everything I do and write, I imagine the kid of mom I’d like to be with my children later on. The kind of mom who doesn’t take everything people say too seriously, but who does take me seriously. I find it difficult to describe what I mean, but the word ‘mom’ says it all.” Anne and her mother never develop the kind of close relationship that exists between many mothers and daughters. But then again, they were brutally robbed of the time and space necessary to make that bond. (Shmoop Summary Writers summary of The Diary of Anne Frank, January 31, 2018) (Frank Anne, pg. 123-125, 38)

Anne adores her father, he is her idol and she has a very special relationship with him. As she gets older, she distances herself from him. (Anne Frank House, January 30, 2018) Her Father, Otto Frank, was the only member of the immediate family to survive the concentration camps. At the end of the war, he returned home to Amsterdam, searching desperately for news of his family. On July 18, 1945, he met two sisters who had been with Anne and Margot at Bergen-Belsen and delivered the tragic news of their deaths. (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017)

When Otto returned to Amsterdam, he found Anne’s diary, which had been saved by Miep Gies. He eventually gathered the strength to read it. He was awestruck by what he discovered, and later had it published as a book. ‘There was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost,’ Otto wrote in a letter to his mother. ‘I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings.’ (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017). She also has a sister named Margot, who was three years older than her. She is tidy, quiet and gets good grades at school. It is said that she did not have any relationship with her sister and that her sister would get jealous of her. Like Anne, she kept a diary during the war, but it was never found. Anne and Margot have a few fights during their time in the Secret Annex. But sometimes they get along well and talk about lots of things. They died within a day of each other. (Biogarphy.com Editors, November 30, 2017) (Anne Frank House, January 31, 2018)

They were a typical upper-middle class German-Jewish family. Anne was born on the eve of dramatic changes in German society. These changes would change many people’s life’s, including hers. (Biography.com Editors, November 30,2017) They lived with nice clothes and good food. (Abramason Ann, pg. 9) After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Otto Frank fled to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where he had business connections. The rest of the Frank family followed Otto, with Anne being the last of the family to arrive in February 1934 after staying with her grandparents in Aachen. (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, January 16, 2018) Until the German Invasion, her childhood in Amsterdam was filled with school and friends. In June, Anne turned 13 and received a diary for her birthday—the first volume of three she would keep during the war. (HistoryNet.com Editors, January 28, 2018)

In July 1942, the Nazis began deporting Dutch Jews to work and extermination camps in eastern Europe via train, mainly from the Westerbork transit camp and Vught concentration camp. On July 5, 1942, Margot received a call-up notice to report for deportation to a labor camp. The following day, the family went into hiding in the achterhuis or secret annex above Otto’s business on the Prinsengracht Canal in Amsterdam. (HistoryNet.com Editors, January 28, 2018)

She began attending Amsterdam’s Sixth Montessori School in 1934. She was a bright and inquisitive young student. (Biography.com Editors, November 30,2017) The biggest change comes in 1941, when Anne had to go to the Jewish High School after the summer holiday. The Nazis did not want Jews and non-Jews to be together in the same schools. Soon after getting her first school report, she has to go into hiding. (Anne Frank House, Febuary 1, 2018)

Even though her life was short, she accomplished so much. She became world famous for the diary she wrote while she was in hiding. Its message of courage and hope in the face of adversity has reached millions. (Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, January 17, 2018) Her diary is considered one of the most moving first-hand experiences of the war from a Jewish perspective. “It shows her unique ability to tell a story about a spirit that bends but refuses to be broken.” She wrote this shortly after being discovered, “I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness. I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. Yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.” (Asia-Pacific Economics Blog, January 17, 2018)

Her diary has sold more than 30 million copies, even though it is on the banned book list and considered controversial by some because of how she talks about anatomy. (Asia-Pacific Economics Blog, January 17, 2018) A family friend names Miep Gies, who helped the family while in hiding, found Anne’s diary in the annex. She gave them to Otto Frank. (Zapruder Alezandra, pg. 38-39) Otto knew that Anne had wanted to publish her diary and eventully decided to fulfill her wish. He combined selections of her original and edited diary because sections of her original diary were lost and the edited diary was incomplete. Eventually, it was published in 1947, with some editorial changes and passages about Anne’s sexuality and negative feelings about Edith removed. (Szalay Jessie, January 23, 2018) Different editions, including an unabridged version and a revised critical edition, have been published with Otto’s edits removed. Screen and stage adaptions of the diary have also been produced. (Szalay Jessie, January 23, 2018) “The Diary of Anne Frank” has been translated into 70 languages. (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017) The diary made her one of the best-known figures of our times. (Müller Melissa, pg. 1)

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Her family and herself spent over two years during WWII hiding in an Annex of rooms above her Father’s office. She wrote extensive daily enteries in her diary to pass time. She sometimes reached deep despair which sunk in during day after day confinement. “I’ve reached the point where I hardly care if I live or die,” she wrote on Febuary 3, 1944. However, the act of writing allowed her to maintain her sanity. “When I write, I can shake off all my cares,” she wrote on April 5, 1944. (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017)

The secret annex behind the warehouse and offices at 263 Prinsengracht is still there today. The rooms were emptied long ago, but in 1960, they were opened as a museum called The Anne Frank House. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, climb the staircase behind the bookcase door. They walk through the rooms where the Frank family and their friends lived and try to imagine what it was like to be in hiding there for more than two years. (Lewis Ralph Brenda, pg. 45,46,47)

Even though all of these terrible things were happening to her and the people she loved, she remained positive and was sure that people could make the world a better place. She truly is an inspiration to all! (Lewis Ralph Brenda, pg. 47) Her final entry was on August 1, 1944. That last words she wrote in her diary were, “… because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if… if only there were no other people in the world Yours, Anne M. Frank.” (Frank Anne, 270-272) On August 4, 1944, the worst fears of the Frank family came true. (Zapruder Alexandra, pg. 320) After 25 months of being in hiding, a German secret police officer accompanied by four Dutch Nazis stormed into the Secret Annex, arresting everyone that was hiding there. They had been betrayed by an anonymous tip, and the identity of the betrayer remains unknown to this day. (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017) (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, January 16, 2018) The residents of the Secret Annex were shipped off to Camp Westerbork, a concentration camp in the Northeastern Netherlands, and arrived by passenger train on August 8, 1944. They were transferred to Auschwitz death camp in Poland in the middle of the night on September 3, 1944. When they arrived at Auschwitz, the men and women were separated. That was the last time Anne saw her father. (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017) (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, January 16, 2018)

After several months of hard labor hauling heavy stones and grass mats, Anne and her sister Margot were again transferred during the winter to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017) They were spared from immediate death in the Auschwitz gas chambers. (History.com Staff, January 11, 2018)

She spent her final days in very poor condition. She was suffering with Typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017) She died in February or March 1945. (Park Madison, January 10, 2018) But according to CNN, new research has been released by the Anne Frank House that shows that Anne and her older sister, Margot Frank, died at least a month earlier than previously thought. Researchers re-examined records of the Red Cross and the Bergen-Belsen Memorial, along with some testimonies of survivors. They concluded that Anne and Margot probably did not survive till March 1945. This contradicted the date of death which had been determined by Dutch authorities. (Park Madison, January 10, 2018) Just two weeks after her supposed death, the concentration camp where she was imprisoned at was liberated. This shows how close she was to surviving the Holocaust. (Park Madison, January 10, 2018) Margot and Anne’s bodies were thrown into a mass grave at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. (History.com Staff, January 11, 2018)

In her diary, Anne had mentioned a chestnut tree that she absolutely loved. In 2009, The Anne Frank Center USA launched a national plan called the Sapling Project. Saplings from a 170-year-old chestnut tree were planted at eleven different sites worldwide. (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017) (Asia-Pacific Economics Blog, January 17, 2018) One of the sites is at the West Front Law of the US Capitol Building. But, in 2005, it was discovered that the chestnut tree had a serious disease. Supports were given to it that it could stand, but in 2010 it could not stand much longer. The saplings of the tree, however, will continue to show the legacy of Anne Frank. (Asia-Pacific Economics Blog, January 17, 2018) Additionally, in 1960, the secret Annex became a museum called the Anne Frank House, which I talked about previously. (Lewis Ralph Brenda, pg. 46)

Anne Frank has become a symbol for the one million Jewish children who died in the Holocaust. She represents the lives lost and the courage they showed in the face of persecution. (United States Holocaust Memorial, January 16, 2018) A writer from Life Science said that, “’It’s a great entry point for talking about the Holocaust and about children’s experience. We have her diary, but we have to think about how many other little girls there were, and we do not have their diaries.’ (Szalay Jessie, January 25, 2018) Of the millions of children who suffered persecution from the Nazis, only a small amount of them wrote journals about their experience that have survived. In their diaries, the young writers wrote about their experience. They confessed their feelings and thought about the torture they have endured. “While in hiding, Anne Frank kept a diary where she wrote about her fears, hope and experiences” (United States Holocaust Memorial, January 16, 2018) She shared her story. She shared what it was like growing up in hiding and the pain she endured. When we read her diary, we can only begin to imagine what it was like in hiding and facing the persecution her and so many other children endured. (United States Holocaust Memorial, January 16, 2018)

“Over the past 60 years, Anne Frank has become a universal symbol of the oppressed in a world of violence and tyranny. Her name invokes humanity, tolerance, human rights, and democracy; her image is the epitome of optimism and the will to live” (Müller Melissa, pg. 1) Many organizations will do humanitarian work on her behalf. After all of these years, her diary is still applicable to our times. (Szalay Jessie, January 25, 2018) “Millions of young people in search of their own identity regard her as their own spokesperson, indeed as their heroine.” (Müller Melissa, pg. 1) Her diary is a testament of courage and hope. Some of the things she wrote have reached proverbial status. She is an extremely strong young girl. (Müller Melissa, pg. 1-3) The author of Anne Frank The Biography says that when she first read The Diary of Anne Frank, she related to Anne’s struggle of self-relaztion and self-identity. Most adolescents struggle with this. The author said that, she related to the resentment Anne felt towards her mother. In what she wrote, she helped young people find someone to relate to. (Müller Melissa, pg., 2-3)

“People often focus mainly on the humanitarian themes of Anne’s dairy, but it is a mistake to ignore the other parts” (Szalay Jessie, January 25, 2018) She was very optimistic. She saw good in the world, even though she was in a very dark time. As I said before, teens can relate to her. She deals with being a young teenage girl, but in a very dark time. (Szalazy Jessie, January 25, 2018) She wrote in her diary that, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” (Tscherry Laura, January 17, 2018) A writer for Life Science wrote that, “I think that’s really what is so powerful and interesting about her story… It intersects with what so many people experience.” (Szalay Jessie, January 25, 2018)

The diary is fairly easy to read, which has made it a popular addition to classrooms around the world. It provides a different perspective on the Holocaust because it is not all about concentration camps, it is about a young child. It is raw and honest. That is how it is different from history books, it is about a young girl growing up in hiding and experiencing these tragedies in an open and honest way. (Szalay Jessie, January 25, 2018) Her father, Otto, said, “Anne’s diary was a great help for me regaining a positive outlook on the world. With its publication, I hoped it helped many people, and that proved to be the case.” (Biography.com Editors, November 30, 2017)

Anne Frank was only one of the Nazi’s victim. But her death helps us understand the immense loss the world suffered because of the Holocaust. She has touched the hearts of millions. “It is important for all of us to realize how much Anne Frank and all the other victims, each in his or her own way, would have contributed to society had they been allowed to live.” (Müller Melissa, pg. 401-403) Her diary endures as one of the most popular book. (Park, January 10, 2018) “I want to be useful or give pleasure to the people around me yet who don’t really know me,” she wrote in her diary on March 25, 1944, about one year before her death. On May 11, she noted, “You’ve known for a long time that my greatest wish is to become a journalist someday and later on a famous write.” I wish she was alive to see what her diary has accomplished. (Müller Melissa, pg. 402-403) Throughout this paper, we explored the early life, accomplishments and legacy of Anne Frank. Even though she dies young, she really does live on. Her writing has changed millions of people’s perspective on life. “She stands for the triumph of the spirit over evil and death.” (Müller Melissa, pg.399-403)

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