Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girlrequires no prior information in regard to the plot and characters. We all know exactly who Anne Frank is, and the fate she and her family met at the hands of the Nazi’s. All because they were Jewish.
The first entry in Anne Frank made in her diary was 12th of June 1942, and merely a month later, along with her father Otto, her mother, Edith and elder sister, Margot, she went into hiding. Anne kept writing in her diary throughout the next two years of her short life. The last entry was made on the 1st of August, 1944. They were arrested three days later.
I view her diary as having two different sections; firstly, about Anne herself and life in the Annex, and secondly, the political side and life on the outside. As any young teenage girl would, Anne gives open and honest accounts her life during the war. Because she did not intend for her entries or ‘letters’ to be read by anyone other than herself, her honesty is refreshing and not masked by what she thinks others want to hear.
Anne paints a humorous picture of the second family the Frank’s share the Annex with, the van Pels’, or as they are called in the diary, the van Daan’s. Anne sees Mrs van Daan as a flirt, and a woman in need of constant attention. But this brings some much needed laughter to Anne’s situation. She also writes about the arguments and harsh words said between Mr and Mrs van Daan. Due to the small space the seven residences are imprisoned in, it is only natural that tempers will run high. Little food is a constant source of tension which grows worse with the addition of another person to the Annex; Fritz Pfeffer (called Albert Dussel in Anne’s letters.) Anne is made to share a room with Dussel, which at first she doesn’t mind. However, he makes strange noises in the night, “like a fish gasping for air,” Anne writes, and she soon finds reason for disagreements with him.
She writes truthful about the disagreements she has with her mother, and how she feels about love and life. Her relationship with Peter is one that is recorded most fully in her diary; from her first impressions of him, to her eventual desire for a friend and companion in the Annex. I didn’t expect to enjoy Anne’s observations and thoughts as much as I did. She writes with the intelligence and manner of someone far older and wiser than she was.
It is interesting to read about the month of Anne’s life at the beginning of the dairy, before they are confined to the Secret Annex. She notes down some of the restrictions placed upon Jews, and remarks about her life before the war. For example, Jews are unable to ride bicycles or travel on public transport.
The only contact the residences of the Annex have with the outside world is via their wireless radio and through their contacts. It is through their helpers – namely Bep (Elizabeth and Miep) – that they survive; they supply essential food, company and information to keep them all sane. The radio is their key to keeping up to date with the war; they listen to the BBC, waiting to hear some good news. Anne talks of what she would like to do after the war; she looks forward to returning to school and decides that she will publish a book about being a Jew in the Secret Annex, for which her diary will be the foundation.
There was a question as to whether the diary was genuine; and it is not hard to see why. The ability Anne has to express her ideas and feeling through putting a pen to paper is one that many an adult would struggle to do so fluently and in such a captivating and passionate voice, let alone a young, teenage girl. She truly has a gift for writing.
The copy I have reviewed is the 70th Century, definitive edition, which includes all the entries Anne made in her diary, including five or so pages discovered before the turn of the century, and with anAfterword to end the book. The Afterword states, rather matter-of-factly, the sad fate of each resident and their helpers. Reading it gave me goose bumps. But it is the pictures that make Anne’s tale all the more harrowing. There are twenty-two photographs of the residence of the Annex included in this copy; some of Anne and her family before the war, and a few – including a look at the bookcase that hid them from the world – taken shortly afterwards. It is the context that goes with Anne’s story that makes the diary such a powerful piece of writing.
The legacy of Anne Frank will always be available to captivate future generations, and remains a warning from the past. I feel I owe it to Anne to urge you to read this short account of her life; it is the least we owe her.