Everyone learned the horrible story of Anne Frank in school. A young girl, no older than we were, forced to hide in an attic with her family and strangers just for a chance of survival. There were no wild beasts, no boogeymen. They hid from other humans, the Nazis, who wished to work them to death for no other reason than their religion and ethnicity. The truth sounds so gut-wrenching that we wish it was only a terrible horror movie set in a fantasy world. But it is the truth, a truth Anne started writing down one June 80 years ago in what we now call The Diary of Anne Frank.
Who was Anne Frank?
Anne Frank was a 16 year old girl, born to a Jewish businessman father and Jewish mother. In June of 1942, her mother received a call from the government that her family would join a labor camp. Feeling suspicious about this claim, her parents set up a secret annex to hide.
It was in this secret annex, crowded with four other Jews yet always remaining silent, that Anne began writing in her diary. During the two years she spent living in the tiny quarters she recorded her daily life as well as her thoughts and feelings. Obviously, this was a very personal piece that not only passed the time in this sad place but provided a way to vent her frustrations.
The German police raided the secret annex and arrested everyone inside. Anne went to the women’s labor camp at Auschwitz with her mother and her sister. The soldiers then deported Anne and her sister again to Bergen-Belsen. Here, they contracted typhus from the cold, wet conditions and lack of food. They both died from the disease less than three months before the United Kingdom liberated the camp.
Why do we read her diary today?
World War II ended in 1945, which was nearly 80 years ago. People found the atrocities committed inconceivable even while they were reading about the war in their daily newspapers. With such a large time gap and the last survivors slowly dying of old age, who is left to tell the stories? The facts and figures feel meaningless without personal anecdotes and real experiences. This is why we need books such as The Diary of Anne Frank and it is why we study her story in schools.
Still, some students and even some adults find the concepts hard to grasp because they are not personal to them. Their families did not undergo persecution so they feel no connection. Often, people forget not only Jews died during the Holocaust.
To correct this fallacy, take this quiz below and answer the questions about yourself. All of these questions reflect Nazi beliefs and the characteristics that made people into camp prisoners. If you score anything under 11/13, you would have been a victim.
11 million died in the Holocaust including both non-Jews and Jews such as Anne Frank. 11 million lives lost should have never happened. From history, we learn from our mistakes. Anne’s death was not in vain because her story will live on. By reading and talking about her diary, we will never forget the people who suffered. And, hopefully, we will be prepared for the time a new Hitler rises. The Diary of Anne Frank is a priceless artifact of an era full of nightmares that we will ensure no one ever lives through again.
If you would like to read more on Anne Frank, see next our article about Anne Frank’s complete writings.