First published in 1947, the power of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl has not diminished over time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Diary of a Young Girl, it is a diary which 13 year old Anne kept for two years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War.
Today, her diary still remains extremely relevant to teenagers across the world; not only because of Anne’s experiences in hiding, but because of the honest and unvarnished way that she describes the universal struggle of simply being a young person. Any modern teenager, even 80 years after the start of the Holocaust, can identify with Anne, and the state of adolescent turmoil which she writes so accurately about. This is what makes her diary so enduring.
As a teen reader, what I love most about her diary is that while war rages on around her, she still finds time to write about seemingly trivial grumbles.
Take her entry from Friday 14th April 1944:
Everyone here is still very tense. Pim has nearly reached boiling point; Mrs Van D is lying in bed with a cold, grumbling; Mr Van D is growing pale without his cigarettes; Dussel, who’s having to give up many of his comforts, is carping at everyone; etc., etc. We seem to have run out of luck lately. The toilet’s leaking, and the tap’s stuck.
Anne Frank is no saint: her diary reveals a typically hormonal, sometimes self-absorbed and temperamental teenager. But this is what makes her so real and human to this day. Anne Frank’s diary reveals more about the tragedy of the Holocaust than any dusty textbook or lengthy scholarly article.
As we turn the final page, and read Anne’s final, written wish – “If only there were no other people in the world” – we know that she never wrote another word. Anne tragically died when she was 15-years-old, of typhus inside Bergen Belsen, one of the Nazi’s most notorious concentration camps.
I often wonder, what would she have achieved if she had lived? Would she have become a successful journalist as she had hoped? Sadly, we will never know.
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