Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl [Updated]

[CATEGORIES: Literature, Reading, Book Review]

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Check your pulse if you haven’t heard of Anne Frank the young Jewish girl who kept a diary of her family’s hiding in Amsterdam for 2 years (1942-1944) during WWII, only to be found and arrested less than a year before the end of the war, with most of them including Anne shipped to their deaths in various Nazi concentration camps.

I should check my own pulse for not having read this sometime during the first six decades of my life.  After several visits to Amsterdam over the years I finally visited in early May this year the Anne Frank House, where she and her family hid.  The diary quotes posted throughout the house were so insightful I vowed to finally read the book, and now I have.

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Written between her 13th birthday and the age of 15 and nearly 2 months she is introspective, descriptive, and mature for her age.  She spends a lot of time exploring her own character, personality, and relationships with her mother and father.  During her 14th year she intelligently comments on her growing puberty and sexuality.  I understand this was omitted from earlier versions of the diary as her surviving father didn’t consider it appropriate at the time.  Even today I think there are some complaints that the inclusion of the sexual and anatomical references make it inappropriate for younger readers.  Not my problem, I’m an adult.  I’m sure proper editions can be found for proper age groups.

Anne is a young girl and the extended introspection gets tedious sometimes.  I would set the book aside when I’d had my fill on any given day, then take it up again and keep going.  It was well worth it to finish the book.  It isn’t that long anyway and I read it fairly quickly.

If you are put off by talk of religion there is very little of that.  She talks about praying occasionally but there is next to nothing about  detailed ceremonies or observances.  She does not discuss politics and doesn’t discuss the war at any great length.

What is fascinating is how her own family of four and four other people all cohabited in fairly small spaces for over 2 years, never going outdoors the entire time.

As noted, her insights are mature.  A few quotes:

At the age of 13 yrs and 7 mo:

“Dearest Kitty,
I’m seething with rage, yet I can’t show it. I’d like to scream, stamp my foot, give Mother a good shaking, cry and I don’t know what else because of the nasty words, mocking looks and accusations that she hurls at me day after day, piercing me like arrows from a tightly strung bow, which are nearly impossible to pull from my body. I’d like to scream at Mother, Margot, the van Daans, Dussel and Father too: “Leave me alone, let me have at least one night when I don’t cry myself to sleep with my eyes burning and my head pounding. Let me get away, away from everything, away from this world!” But I can’t do that. I can’t let them see my doubts, or the wounds they’ve inflicted on me. I couldn’t bear their sympathy or their good-humored derision. It would only make me want to scream even more.”

Excerpt From: Anne Frank, Otto M. Frank, Mirjam Pressler & Susan Massotty. “The Diary of a Young Girl.” Bantam Books, 2011-09-28. iBooks. (p. 82 of 312 iBook)
This material may be protected by copyright.

On Writing, age 14 yrs and 10 mo:

“Unless you write yourself, you can’t know how wonderful it is; I always used to bemoan the fact that I couldn’t draw, but now I’m overjoyed that at least I can write. And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine having to live like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. 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?

I hope so, oh I hope so very much, because writing allows me to record everything, all my thoughts, ideals and fantasies.”

Excerpt From: Anne Frank, Otto M. Frank, Mirjam Pressler & Susan Massotty. “The Diary of a Young Girl.” Bantam Books, 2011-09-28. iBooks. (p. 231 of 312 iBook)
This material may be protected by copyright.

On Women’s Equality, Age 15 and a few days:

“One of the many questions that have often bothered me is why women have been, and still are, thought to be so inferior to men. It’s easy to say it’s unfair, but that’s not enough for me; I’d really like to know the reason for this great injustice!

Men presumably dominated women from the very beginning because of their greater physical strength; it’s men who earn a living, beget children and do as they please … Until recently, women silently went along with this, which was stupid, since the longer it’s kept up, the more deeply entrenched it becomes. Fortunately, education, work and progress have opened women’s eyes. In many countries they’ve been granted equal rights; many people, mainly women, but also men, now realize how wrong it was to tolerate this state of affairs for so long.”

“Modern women want the right to be completely independent!

But that’s not all. Women should be respected as well! Generally speaking, men are held in great esteem in all parts of the world, so why shouldn’t women have their share? Soldiers and war heroes are honored and commemorated, explorers are granted immortal fame, martyrs are revered, but how many people look upon women too as soldiers?”

Excerpt From: Anne Frank, Otto M. Frank, Mirjam Pressler & Susan Massotty. “The Diary of a Young Girl.” Bantam Books, 2011-09-28. iBooks. (p. 291-292 of 312 iBook)
This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-diary-of-a-young-girl/id464671788?mt=11

She expressed that she wanted to be a writer.  Had she lived I’m certain she would have been a very good one.

Visit the Anne Frank House when you are in Amsterdam (plan ahead, it’s busy) and visit the website in the meantime.  If you have never visited a Holocaust museum, anywhere in the world, put that near the top of your bucket list now.  Visit one soon.  The Holocaust’s  disgusting example of man’s inhumanity to man occurred just 65-75 years ago, near the middle of the great, modern Twentieth Century.  People should remain appalled forever.

I recommend this book.

[UPDATE: Despite visiting the Anne Frank House, with its warren of unfurnished rooms, and reading the diary, I found it difficult to envision the hiding place.  I have since browsed the website and its virtual tour and stories of the rooms.  I highly recommend it before, during, or after reading the diary.  http://www.annefrank.org/en/Subsites/Home/Enter-the-3D-house/#/house/start/help/ ]

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About JohnRH

Retired, avid winter skier, avid reader, traveler (avidly). :)
Gallery | This entry was posted in Book review, Books, EUROPE, FREEDOM, Individual rights, Literature, Non-fiction, Reading, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl [Updated]

  1. Leighton Dorey says:

    too awful to imagine.

    too familiar also

    Sheeple *waiting* for the slaughter, cowered into submission by lies repeated so often they become the “truth”, unable to get out of harms way.

    What country and year am I referring too?

  2. JohnRH says:

    The year is now. The countries, the killing, the genocides, too numerous to mention.

  3. JohnRH says:

    “Children unfamiliar with the world in time make easy marks for the dealers in fascist politics and quack religion.” (Lewis Lapham, Preamble, Lapham’s Quarterly:Winter 2008 States of War, p. 13.)

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