June 12, 2012

Anne Frank Writes in her Diary to the Whole World

Today is Anne Frank's birthday.  On this date 70 years ago, when she was celebrating her 13th birthday, Anne's father gave her a diary for her birthday.  I heard about her birthday on the news today.  What would Anne think about how her birthday is noted worldwide and her diary is discussed in schools worldwide?  Wouldn't that amaze Anne?  Such a thought is so crazy for a 13 year old, but one never knows!
Anne began writing in her new diary immediately.  She loved to write, so she would write about almost anything.  At first she wrote poems and stories about her life in Amsterdam.  But, when her family went into hiding a month later, she started writing about what was happening in the world.  She was an eyewitness to the war and recorded what she saw for all of us to read. 
They went into hiding because Anne's 16 year old sister Margot received a notice to report to a work camp.  Anne and her family were Jewish, and the Germans were rounding up all of the Jews.    The family hid in a secret annex in rooms above a shopping area where Anne's father knew his employees could help them.  Friends would bring the family supplies like food and update them on war news.  According to Anne's diary, the family went into hiding on July 6, 1942. 
Details of living in the attic are in Anne's diary.  She writes of how she had to remain stone silent all day long.  Most of the time, Anne spent this time reading and studying, and writing in her diary.  She wrote about daily life and the news of the war.  And she detailed about how the van Pels family came to join them in hiding.  Another friend, Fritz Pfeffer joined them later.  She wrote a lot about her ambitions and dreams in the silence, where she couldn't talk about them.  Later she wrote more about her belief in God and other more grown-up ideas.
On August 4, 1944 the family was caught.  An informant turned them in; the family never found out who betrayed them.  Her last entry was dated August 1st. 
September 3, 1944 was the date of the last transport from Westerberg to Auschwitz concentration camp.  The Frank family, the Van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer were all on that transport.   Only Anne's father Otto survived the internment.  He spent years looking for members of his family, but slowly learned that all of them were gone. 
Otto Frank located Anne's diary and published it first in the 'Het Parool' newspaper (in Amsterdam) in 1946.  Book publishers noticed it and published it as a book, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.  Today her book is studied in schools worldwide and discussed for its historic and literary value. 
In one of her entries she wrote,
"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?" 
Let's hope that she does know the great impact her diary has had on the world.  Anne's little diary, full of her hopes and dreams, and her views of the world during her exile, has thrust her into history.  Something as simple as recording her boring daily life became precious to mankind on many different levels.  Broadly, those who reduced the Jewish populace to numbers and inhuman treatment can't deny the humanity shown in this young girls' diary.  On a more personal level, reading her account of coping with the difficulties of confinement in hiding during adolescence offers encouragement and strength to others. 
While I'm preaching this, let me quote from the author of a cool book on some of my posterity I found yesterday.  My distant cousin John E. Morris wrote this in 1893!  And I value what he wrote very much!   
"… a large portion of the delinquents (those who won't write their life stories down) justify their silence on the ground of having nothing of interest to communicate.  This is a mistaken idea; for though their history may be so meager that it may be compressed into two lines of printed matter, still even this is of interest to those for whom the work is complied, namely, their descendants."
I hope we all will renew our interest in writing in a journal or a diary.  Not because I fear we will die young; not at all!  I simply believe that insights as we have dealt with our challenges will be valued by our family and later by our posterity.  Write down miracles and disappointments, fears and faith.  Write down hopes and dreams for your bright future.  And write down what you are learning in your daily battles.   

Wikipedia, Anne Frank.  Found on June 12, 2012 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Frank
Clegg, Melanie.  "Anne Frank 12th June 1942" found on June 12, 2012 at http://madameguillotine.org.uk/2012/06/12/anne-frank-12th-june-1942/
Morris, John E. The Felt Genealogy, A Record of the Descendants of George Felt of Casco Bay.  Hartford, Connecticut, 1893, p. 6.

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