Anne Frank

Anne Frank’s Diary, Social Media, and How We Record History

2020 was a tumultuous year. Americans faced not only a global pandemic but a fight against police brutality and a presidential election where the results would unarguably determine what the next four years would yield. We captured this past year through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook because, at some point, someone somewhere told us to document the year that could change the course of history. I’m sure we have all heard the phrase “history repeats itself.” A more modern take of this statement comes from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: “History has its eyes on you.” It may seem like we are merely players in a big game where everyone is fighting and no one is winning. However, collectively we are the ones determining the fates of our future, regardless of if we get to see them. Seventy-nine years ago on this day, Anne Frank began writing in her diary because a man on the radio said he would collect eye-witness accounts of the Nazi occupation. And all Anne wanted to be was a published writer. Little did she know that her decision to write would change the world.

IMAGE VIA ANNEFRANK.ORG

For much of World War II, the Nazi Party claimed that the Allies and Jewish people were spreading vicious lies about the far-right party. They used propaganda to convince the average person that the Nazi ideals were the only way to “make Germany great again.” Ultimately, if you weren’t 100 percent with the Nazi Party, you were against them. Their intimidation tactics easily allowed them to disguise the genocide of European Jewish people as a “resettling” of those who were against the Nazi Party. Because people were afraid for their lives, Hitler and his regime could simply hide everything they were doing from the outside world.

 

 

While there were attempts to stop Hitler from the inside, it wasn’t until the war ended when Allies discovered the truth behind Nazi Germany. Even then, documents were falsified, hidden, and destroyed to cover up any evidence of what the Nazis had done. Truly, the concentration camps are the main pieces of evidence of the genocide that happened across Europe. From an outsider’s point of view, this begged the question: how did a popular political party murder six million Jewish people and countless others who were deemed “unfit” for Germany? From America’s standpoint, there are arguments that the infamous 1930s Great Depression was bigger news than what was happening in Europe at the time. There is speculation that Americans couldn’t even comprehend what genocide meant in regards to the sheer amount of people who were being murdered, and this thought is what led to the US denying entry to refugees who were lucky enough to escape the Nazis. Additionally, the US only joined the Allies in WWII after the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Pearl Harbor because until then, they didn’t want to get involved in foreign affairs.

 

 

This is where Anne Frank’s diary plays an important role in history. After she heard the call over the radio for civilian documents about Nazi occupation, she immediately turned her birthday gift into a piece appropriate for publication. She edited, added, and removed various sections to emphasize how the occupation affected her family. Following the removal of the Frank family from their hiding place, Miep, a family friend, found and retained Anne’s diary until she could return it at the end of the war. When Otto Frank, Anne’s father, became the sole survivor of the Frank family, Miep gave the diary to him as preservation of his daughter’s memory. After pouring over Anne’s entries, Frank found a publisher to replicate the diary and share the true horrors of Nazi occupation with the world. In 1947, Anne’s diary was published as The Diary of a Young Girl.

IMAGE VIA AMAZON

To this day, we rely on civilian documentation to record both inspiring and devastating world events. Most recently, Darnella Fraizer’s recording of Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd became the critical piece of evidence that led to Chauvin’s damning conviction. It even won her an honorary Pulitzer Prize. What we may refer to as “receipts” are actually our truths behind both our private and public lives. And these are truths that hold governments and people in power accountable so that history doesn’t repeat itself. Social media can be a hell-hole, but what it has given us is a means of documentation. Anne can’t have predicted what her diary would become. But in the end, its contents changed world history. So, if you ever think that what you are writing, sharing, capturing, or recording isn’t important, you are absolutely wrong. You never know how your story will impact the world.

FEATURED IMAGE VIA ANNEFRANK.ORG

8 of Michelle Obama’s Must-Reads

Book lovers and Obama supporters alike wait with anticipation every year to hear Barrack Obama’s book picks for that summer. Fortunately, you now have another round of books to choose from thanks to Michelle who has a few book recommendations of her own. Despite your ever-growing to-be-read pile, when Michelle Obama tells you to read a certain book, you listen!

Following the release of her own memoir, Becoming, Michelle reveals eight more must-reads in her “By the Book” interview, published on December 6, 2018 in the New York Times. Other titles come from an interview with Jenna Bush Hager and a memorial posted on Instagram for what would have been a Holocaust victim’s ninetieth birthday.

 

 

8-Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon

Image Via Image via The Stanford Daily

 

Part of the reason why Morrison received the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature, Song of Solomon follows the life of Michigan native, Macon through his life as he searches for a sense of identity.

 

7-The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train

Image Via Image via Penguin Books Australia

 

Before the major motion picture, Rachel was just a girl who liked to ride the train everyday to London and back. It’s definitely not because the train passes her ex-husband’s house or the because she can see the perfect couple she envies so who live a few houses down. Definitely not.

 

 

6-White Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth

Image Via Image via Book Riot

 

Smith’s London-centric novel follows two friends, one Bangladeshi and one Englishman, as they navigate family, friendship and life in the city.

 

5-Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Image via Apple Books

 

The archetype for unreliable narrators, Gone Girl will have you guessing until the very last page. Follow Nick and her husband Amy who disappears, but why…and how…and where?

 

4-An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage

Image Via Image via Oneworld Publications

 

Jones’ novel follows newlyweds who separate after a daunting rape trial. When they reunite later in life, things somehow get even more complicated.

 

 

3-Educated by Tara Westover

Educated

Image via Booktopia

 

Westover’s biographical memoir tells the story of how she fell in love with learning after growing up with little to none of it at all.

 

2-The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank

Image Via Image via Book Depository

 

Frank’s diary which she kept as a young girl before her family was sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust relay the horrors of the terrible tragedy.

 

1-Commonwealth by Anne Patchett

Commonwealth

Image Via Inprint

 

Patchett’s bestseller tells the story of a family whose dynamic gets turned upside down at a family christening and what happens when that child grows up and decides to share that story.

 

 

Featured Image via AARP

8 of Michelle Obama's Must-Reads

Book lovers and Obama supporters alike wait with anticipation every year to hear Barrack Obama’s book picks for that summer. Fortunately, you now have another round of books to choose from thanks to Michelle who has a few book recommendations of her own. Despite your ever-growing to-be-read pile, when Michelle Obama tells you to read a certain book, you listen!
Following the release of her own memoir, Becoming, Michelle reveals eight more must-reads in her “By the Book” interview, published on December 6, 2018 in the New York Times. Other titles come from an interview with Jenna Bush Hager and a memorial posted on Instagram for what would have been a Holocaust victim’s ninetieth birthday.
 

 

8-Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon

Image Via Image via The Stanford Daily

 
Part of the reason why Morrison received the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature, Song of Solomon follows the life of Michigan native, Macon through his life as he searches for a sense of identity.
 

7-The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train

Image Via Image via Penguin Books Australia

 
Before the major motion picture, Rachel was just a girl who liked to ride the train everyday to London and back. It’s definitely not because the train passes her ex-husband’s house or the because she can see the perfect couple she envies so who live a few houses down. Definitely not.
 

 

6-White Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth

Image Via Image via Book Riot

 
Smith’s London-centric novel follows two friends, one Bangladeshi and one Englishman, as they navigate family, friendship and life in the city.
 

5-Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

Image via Apple Books

 
The archetype for unreliable narrators, Gone Girl will have you guessing until the very last page. Follow Nick and her husband Amy who disappears, but why…and how…and where?
 

4-An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage

Image Via Image via Oneworld Publications

 
Jones’ novel follows newlyweds who separate after a daunting rape trial. When they reunite later in life, things somehow get even more complicated.
 

 

3-Educated by Tara Westover

Educated

Image via Booktopia

 
Westover’s biographical memoir tells the story of how she fell in love with learning after growing up with little to none of it at all.
 

2-The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank

Image Via Image via Book Depository

 
Frank’s diary which she kept as a young girl before her family was sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust relay the horrors of the terrible tragedy.
 

1-Commonwealth by Anne Patchett

Commonwealth

Image Via Inprint

 
Patchett’s bestseller tells the story of a family whose dynamic gets turned upside down at a family christening and what happens when that child grows up and decides to share that story.
 

 
Featured Image via AARP

Friends of Anne Frank Throw Her 90th Birthday Party in Her Apartment

Birthdays never stop being special; even when we grow tired of them, the people in our lives do not. Someone almost always shows up with a gift—socks, shirts, Doritos (thanks mom). It’s the thought that counts right? Pleasant reminders that we are not in the world alone. But, let’s be honest, sometimes the best gifts are the ones we personally pick out ahead of time. This was most definitely the case for young Anne Frank.

 

Image Via Mentalfloss.com

On June 11th, 1942, a day before her thirteenth birthday, Frank chose a gift. While browsing through a bookstore with her father, Anne Frank laid claim to a blank, red and checkered autograph book—Anne called this book “maybe one of my nicest presents [ever].” And it was. This book, which Anne famously used as a diary, would  become (arguably) the most important book—no, the most important object—of the entire twentieth century.

The day after that fateful browse, many of Anne’s friends attended a birthday party at her family’s modest apartment. It was a gleeful day courtesy of a seemingly endless supply of cookies (not so much) and black and white movies. A day that accomplished the gargantuan feat of distracting Amsterdam youth from the grim reality of World War II. Unfortunately, Anne would never experience a birthday like that again. Three weeks later her family was forced into hiding…and three years after that, in a Nazi concentration camp, Anne died.

Anne’s father Otto, was the only family member to survive the war and went on to publish Anne’s diary. The Diary of a Young Girl is among the best-known books in the world.  One of the most monstrous and discriminatory periods of human history documented through the eyes of a young girl—Anne Frank. Today, Anne is not only remembered by the billions of people who cherish the MANY translations of her diary, but also by the surviving attendants of her thirteenth birthday party. In her diary’s introduction, Anne expressed a desire to acquire a  “truest friend” with whom she could confide her innermost thoughts and feelings; she names Jacque Van Maarsen as a potential candidate.

 

Image Via Amazon.com

 

Jacqueline van Maarsen is now ninety-years-old. On Wednesday, Van Maarsen, along with Albert Gomes de Mesquita (who went to school with Frank), threw Anne a ninetieth birthday party. In the same tiny apartment (now restored), with a familiar looking autograph book and the same seemingly endless supply of cookies.

 

Jacqueline van Maarsen, center left, and Albert Gomes de Mesquita, center right, school friends of Anne Frank, pose for a photo with students from the International School of Amsterdam during an event to mark what would have been Anne Frank's 90th birthday, in Amsterdam on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.
Image Via Time.com

Also in attendance were students from the International School of Amsterdam. Elbow to elbow, Van Maarsen and Gomes de Mesquita did their best to answer as many questions as they could. The pair were asked about everything from survival to general advise. How does one proceed in an unforgiving world?

 “I think you have to learn things from what happens. I’ve been helped by so many different people and they were Roman Catholic, Protestant, atheist, communist, rich, poor,” said Gomes de Mesquita. I’ve slept in twelve different places during hiding and my lesson is: Good people can be found everywhere.”

One student was particularly moved when Van Maarsen talked about how other people who endured the same hardships as Anne aren’t given the same amount of attention or appreciation.

“It was really incredible to meet them, not only as Anne’s friends but as survivors of the war,” said thirteen-year-old Sietse Munting. “I really tried to think about that and tried to think; ‘it’s not only Anne,’ he said. “Sure, we remember Anne because she’s very important — and we should remember her — but there were also many, many others who also faced this time.”

Although Anne Frank’s life may not have been long, what she was able to accomplish in her fifteen years of life, changed the world. Memoirs like hers make it impossible for us to ignore bigotry and violence. In a bittersweet way, the “truest friend” Anne desired came in the form of a gift she had chosen for herself. A gift that she shared her inner most thoughts and feelings with, and in doing so, confided in all of us.

 

Forever reminding us that we are not alone as long as we have a book.

 

 

Featured Image Via Time.com