This book titled The Diary of a Young Girl is a collection of diary entries written by a young girl named Anne Otto Frank. Surrounded by the distress of the Second World War and anticipation of not getting caught by the Nazis, Anne finds her true friend in her diary, which she named “Kitty”. Her first entry dated June 12, 1942 (also the day she turned 13) goes as follows-
“I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”
She had originally written her diary strictly for herself. Then one day in 1944, Gerrit Bolkestein, a member of the Dutch government in exile, announced in a radio broadcast from London that after the war was over he hoped to collect eyewitness accounts of the Dutch people under German occupation and he specifically mentioned letters and diaries. Inspired by his speech, Anne decided to publish her entries after the war was over. She even edited and omitted her work to improve the text for the general reader.
Anne was a young girl from a Jewish family. Anne, her father Otto Frank and mother Edith Holländer Frank along with her elder sister Margot, initially lived in Holland. Hitler’s rising powers had caused many restrictions to Jews, as described elaborately by Anne, which she despised a lot. The idea of concentration camps had also terrorised her. It was on hearing the news that Margot might be sent away in those camps, the family decided to flee to Amsterdam, and live in hiding until the war was over. Anne herself didn’t know much on where that place might be.
A broken down warehouse building in Amsterdam nested the secured home of the Frank family. A door behind an unnoticed old bookshelf on the first floor led to their new home which they named “Secret Annexe”. It was here that the Frank family met their companions in hiding – The Van Daans. The Van Daan family consisted of Petronella and Hermann with their son Peter Van Daan. Later in the year they were joined by a person named Albert Dussel, who was a dentist by profession.
In her diary, Anne describes her cosy hiding place, and the efforts she along with her companions did to make it home. She also talks about the measures these two families took to make Annexe unnoticeable. Her writings elaborate on all the family drama going on around her, with critical views on how ridiculously her elders behaved in a childish manner. She describes all her dreams, ambitions and her views on the war. She feels and thinks in a manner which every teenager her age would, yet her confinement makes her actions mature and ideals free minded. This is the essence and beauty of her writings. She believes that a world much better would come. In her childish innocence she writes each and every detail, a teenage girl would feel while growing up- from her quarrels with her mother to the affection from her father. And the best part, at least I felt was that she did not hesitate in telling the reality even if it was quite bad. She wrote her feelings in such a manner that it felt as though she had left a part of her spirit in her dairy that speaks to the audience.
Her diary ends on August 1, 1944, as a few days later the army discovered their hiding place and took all of Annexe’s members to a concentration camp. All of Anne’s family and friends (apart from her father) from the Annexe died in these camps. Anne herself died in the end of February 1945. Her death was the result of a typhus epidemic that broke out due to awful hygienic conditions in her camp.
Although, this fact is not given in Anne’s writings, her father O. Frank was the only survivor from the war. After being released, O. Frank had gone back to this secret Annexe with a heavy heart as he knew none of this family survived. It was only when he returned; he found Anne’s entries. He read all of them and decided to fulfil her only dream to be an author. He published Anne’s entries in form of a book and opened a trust named Anne Frank foundation to help the Jews who survived the war.
This book is a must read for everyone. It might not have the best English (as the original entries were in Dutch, the books are translated in English) or the best story, yet it is real and it touches the heart to see how brutally an entire creed was treated, just for one man’s ambition. Children were the worst sufferers of war, and Anne being one of them tells her story on how children like her were unheard by all, and how they should have had a say in the decision that affected them.
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