Monday, June 9, 2014

I Want to Go on Living

Anne woke up early, bubbling with  excitement. Today—June 12, 1942—was her thirteenth birthday. 

A little after seven, she woke her parents, and they watched as she opened presents. A blue blouse, a game, a bottle of grape juice, some flowers. . . .

But her favorite present was a book with blank pages. It was an autograph book, but Anne decided to use it as a diary.

Anne had loving parents, a devoted older sister, and many friends—both boys and girls. But there was one thing she didn’t have—a true friend, someone to share her deepest secrets with. But that changed the day she started her diary. She even gave the diary a name—Kitty.

“Dear Kitty,” wrote Anne. “Paper has more patience than people.” Anne was glad to have someone at last she could talk to about school, boys, and her hopes and dreams.

Anne Frank was a remarkable girl who lived at an extraordinary time. She was a Jewish girl, born in Germany but living in Nazi-occupied Holland. Hitler hated all the Jews, and he made laws to keep them under his thumb. They had to  wear a yellow star for identification. They were forbidden to use bicycles or buses or cars. They were not allowed to do athletics, to attend movies, or to be outdoors after 8:00 pm. 

The Frank House
photo by Massimo Catarinella

And then things got even worse. Anne’s sister Margot received a “call-up notice” from the government. That meant she would be sent away to a work camp. And so Anne’s family—including Anne’s friend Kitty—went into hiding. During their escape, they wore several layers of clothing because they couldn’t risk being seen with a suitcase. Mr. Frank left a note, saying they had gone to Switzerland, in order to confuse the officials. Anne wrote about their daily life in hiding—in some back storerooms of their father’s business.

The Franks lived with another Jewish Family in the “Secret Annex.” The entrance to their hideaway was hidden by a bookcase. They lived in constant fear of capture. Anne wrote that Margot was “forbidden” to cough at night. They covered the windows so that no light could be seen from the street. “Dear Kitty. . .I have plenty of dreams, but the reality is we’ll have to stay here until the war is over. We can’t ever go outside.” 

Anne continued to pour out her soul in her diary:

"I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that's what I want! I know I can write ..., but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent ...

"I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that's inside me!

"When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?"

Her last diary entry is dated August 4, 1944. On that day, the Franks were discovered and arrested. Anne and Margot died of Typhus in a concentration camp in March of 1946. Anne was only 15 years old.

Later, workers discovered the pages of Anne’s diary strewn across the floor of the Secret Annex. After the war, the pages were given to Anne’s father Otto. As a tribute to his daughter, Otto Frank edited and published the diary. For many people who knew little about the Jewish Holocaust under Hitler, Anne became the face and the voice of these persecuted Jews.

“Dear Kitty . . . It seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen year old schoolgirl.”  

Anne's life was far too short, and yet, even in that short time, she achieved her life's ambition: "I want to go on living, even after my death." 

Little did Anne know that her diary would one day be read around the world, translated into more than 60 languages, and used as inspiration for plays, movies, and music. Anne would be surprised to learn that countless children and adults have been fascinated by her best-selling book, The Diary of a Young Girl.

The First Edition of Anne's Diary

1 comment:

  1. I will never forget the first time I read The Diary of Young Girl. I was 13, and had dreams of being a writer myself. Anne's words stirred something deep in my heart, making me want to be a better person.