I remember being at school in that history class, the desks lined up facing the front. The old floor wooden, worn and dusty. The view from the third floor windows down to the concrete playground. And yet, I never really found myself looking out of the windows wishing to be elsewhere. Why? History fascinated me. We had one of those great teachers who was so enthusiastic about her subject. Yet despite this my memory of what we covered isn’t great.
However I remember seeing clips of a film about the Anne Frank Story, perhaps we watched it all, I don’t remember. But I recently remembered bits of the story from class and wanted to learn more about Anne Frank. So I bought and have recently finished reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.
The Frank family were Jews at the time the second World War started. They along with another family had the foresight to hide from the German authorities. They knew from German propaganda that the authorities were blaming Jews for the problems the country had. They also knew it would not be long before they faced persecution if they didn’t hide. The Frank family went in to hiding in The Secret Annex, which is the place Anne Started to write her diary.
Anne starts off by introducing herself and explaining she wants a friend that she can write to and tell her deepest thoughts. She names this friend ‘Kitty’. Then she begins to write regular dated letters always starting “Dear Kitty”. These entries start by covering a lot about her family, the food they eat, the other family in the Annex and how they get on (or not).
You continue to read on through the diary and you start to see that this was a very intelligent girl. She self analyses, shares her dreams (of being a writer) and a huge driver in her life is to improve herself. As her body begins the transformation from girl to young woman she writes about the changes she is under going both physically and emotionally. She starts to get frustrated with her parents, they don’t understand her; she starts to have feelings for the boy who lives upstairs Peter. You begin to connect with her and remember your own adolescence, the dreams you had and your first crush.
Throughout The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, Anne keeps you informed on what is going on in the war and what the families living in the Annex think it means for them. Anne discloses how her paralysing fear gets the best of her at times and she reflects on how lucky she is to still be alive. She often thinks about her friends from life before the Annex and wonders what’s happened to them.
Although in the war things are going well, Britain and the other Allies are making progress; things worsen at the Annex. The are break ins at the factory below The Secret Annex, the food is poor with little nutritional value and toileting is limited. But at least they are alive with renewed hope that British and other Allied troops will soon be at their rescue. And then the diary ends.
Throughout the diary I looked for those famous words “In spite of everything, I still believe there’s good in people.” But I never found them.
The Afterword explaining the details of the families discovery in The Secret Annex by the authorities and what happened to the the two families members individually as well as their hiders. The conclusion also covers what’s happened historically since then. Otto Frank (Anne’s Father) deciding to publish the diary, the diary selling well, the house of The Secret Annex being saved from demolition and becoming more than a museum. Become a place were people can learn tolerance, in the hopes nothing like this ever happens again.
The Afterword explains that the famous quote (above) was actually said by Otto in a news paper interview after the diary had been published.
I felt that I knew Anne after reading her intimate diary and that she displayed the true spirit of humanity. The true spirit of humanity consisting compassion, hope and love on all levels. That through dark and tough times we should keep these good aspects of humanity and know that we will come out of the dark times stronger. The book is a aids as a reminder of the mass genocide that happened during the war and that intolerance breeds the conditions that would be necessary in order for mass genocide to happen again.