The Diary Of A Young Girl, By Anne Frank

What Is It?

There are many reasons for me to write a review for a particular book. And the truth is that since I have rated The Diary Of A Young Girl so high, I wondered whether it was out of sympathy or something that the book actually deserved.

The real life account of a teenage Jewish girl, the book begins on Anne Frank’s 13th birthday {12 June 1942}, when she gets a diary. It tells the story of her family who live in Frankfurt, Germany and suddenly have to go into hiding as a result of Hitler and the Nazi Party’s treatment of Jews in Europe during the Second World War. They later escape to Amsterdam where they go into hiding with other Jews. The diary ends suddenly on 1 August 1944.

Considered as a classic by many, this is more than just some tale by a writer. It is a collection of memories, of thoughts of a young, yet real, girl. Woman. Human. Jewish.

The Bigger Picture

The first English edition of The Diary of a Young Girl in its original format was published in 1995, almost five decades after she received the journal. And yet, despite the passage of time, this story continues to offer readers something new on one hand and a unique understanding of the horrors of the Holocaust on the other. This in turn lead to the creation of a diary that till date remains one of the most moving stories that anyone, anywhere has managed to tell about the Second World War.

As the war dragged on and news trickled in of mass deportations of Jews, Anne became desperate. She had terrifying fantasies about the death of Jewish friends. Often she saw “rows of good, innocent people accompanied by crying children [walk] on and on . . . bullied and knocked about until they almost drop.” With appalling prescience she wrote that “there is nothing we can do but wait as calmly as we can till the misery comes to an end. Jews and Christians wait, the whole earth waits; and there are many who wait for death.” When her pen fell into the fire, she wrote that it “has been cremated.”

Though not much interested in politics, Anne tried to understand what was happening to the world. “I don’t believe that the big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone, are guilty of the war,” she wrote. “Oh no, the little man is just as guilty, otherwise the peoples of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There’s in people simply an urge to destroy, an urge to kill, to murder and rage, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged …”

But sometimes she cried out from the heart, as if for all the Jews of Europe: “Who has inflicted this upon us? Who has made us Jews different from all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up to now? It is God that has made us as we are, but it will be God, too, who will raise us up again.

Anne Frank lived in Holland during the Second World War and her diary was written during the time that she and her family were hiding in the ‘Secret Annex’ for two years. So while the underlying theme is the ongoing war, the diary is also a reflection of her growing years in such a tense and unfavourable situation. Although her situation was a tad better than most, it was still horrible and despite this, her words are intelligent, marvellous and courageous. Her diary imbibed her fears, worries, thoughts, turmoil and hardships and has since then become a living testimonial to her incredibly brave life.

That’s not the only heartbreaking part, because the ending of this book completely shatters you {and even though I knew it was going to be sad, it did nothing to reduce the impact}. Anne had her whole life in front of her, and it was cruelly taken away from her. She could have accomplished so much and done anything that she wanted. Every entry in the diary brought her closer to the end, and while I hoped that it would be the end of the war, the book ended in a very abrupt manner. Every time, she mentioned something bright and happy, my heart ached knowing that she might never get to experience them. Maybe if we could time travel, this is one family that I would have loved to rescue.

So, while this story is tragic, especially considering the theme and the abrupt end, these stories need to be read and told. She, sorry the whole Jewish community were innocent victims and the Holocaust is a truly a dark period in the history of the world. Like Ben Lesser says, And in my mind there are questions that have never been answered. You might be surprised to learn that my first unanswered question is not, Why did that insane Hitler try to destroy the Jewish people? Instead, my first unanswered question is, Why did the so- called sane world stand by and let this Genocide happen? No one should have died in such a cruel manner and everyone needs to read this book, so that we can stop such acts from happening again.

Further, the sheer honesty of the diary also makes reading this one memorable and also sets it apart from other books of the same genres. She begins her diary by saying, ‘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.’ This in turn almost makes you feel guilty, because it almost feels like reading someone’s personal diary or letters. Her honesty has enabled her to draw a picture of her life – you could feel the writer growing in pages, her psychological developments and passions are brought to life through her own words. This is something that fiction might never achieve – surly not in the manner that it has achieved with this book. That being said, while there might be other books that depict the horrors of the Holocaust Centers, this still at its heart is an intimate look into the psyche of a bright and socially observant teenage girl who despite the horrors of the gas chambers and concentration camp was still riddled by normal insecurities and concerns. So, don’t read this book to try and gain an insight into the genocide but read it because it will show that it is close to impossible to hide from the scary things in life, even if you lock yourself in an attic for two years.

Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed is the transformation of Anne from a teenager to a young woman. She started thinking about bigger things and ideas during the two years that she was forced to be a captive. It was quite inspirational and magnificent at the same time. So while in the beginning, she did not understand what was happening to her community, later she accepted the reality of the situation.

Overall, this book remains a representational voice for all those millions of Jewish people who did not return from camps and were robbed of not just their voice but lives as well. So while Anne Frank did not speak for millions of people, it is alright, because this was not her motive or intention. She speaks only about her point of views and ideals, because she needed an outlet to vent everything. Wise beyond her years, the personality and wit of Anne Frank has been trapped in a literary time capsule that must be read by everyone. Highly recommended. 

Final Verdict

I have read quite a few painful stories in my life, but I feel as if this one is the worst of all, yet the best of all. And that is basically because this is not just a story but the truth. Thank you Anne Frank for your brilliancy, your humor, your bright mind. You are perfect, despite everything you think of yourself. And I am super glad that you at least got one of your wish.

I want to go on living even after my death.”

Her diary will always live forever. Anne Frank is part of history, along with the millions of Jews, Polish, and any one else who suffered in the terrible War. All their stories should be heard. I hope it becomes essential reading for everyone, especially for teenagers. After all, it is easy to think that the Holocaust happened in another lifetime and generation. Anne brings it home and makes us realise that it happened to people just like us and like Einstein says, ‘The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.’

In conclusion, buy this one right away because such books change your life forever. Anne Frank for the win, now and always. RIP

Buy the book here.