Thursday, 30 April 2009

Looking Back - The Anne Frank Diary

On this day in 1952, the moving diary of Anne Frank, a Jewish victim of the Holocaust, became available in British book shops entitled 'The Diary of a Young Girl'.
The book was first published in Dutch in 1947 under the title Het Achteruis (The Secret House) by her father Otto Frank, who survived the concentration camps.
It was a lively and at the same time disturbing account of a teenager living in hiding with seven others in fear of their lives in occupied Holland. Anne was eventually arrested along with her seven comrades and sent to Westerbork, a transit camp in Holland, and then on to Auschwitz and finally to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died in 1945. Her father survived and returned to Amsterdam where he, his family and friends had been in hiding for two years before the Nazis found them.
There, his Dutch friends gave him papers left behind after the Gestapo raid. Among them was his daughters diary.
It was some days before he could bring himself to read it and when he did he was astonished to find out about a side of his daughter he never knew - someone who was wise beyond her years and had a deep faith in humanity in spite of her suffering.
Her entry for 12 July 1944, three weeks before her arrest read "I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us...I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up into the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more."
The Franks had moved to Holland from Nazi Germany in 1933. In July 1942, after the Germans had occupied the country, the Franks and four other Jewish people went into hiding in an annex of a house in central Amsterdam.
That year, Anne, who had an ambition to be a writer, was given a red and white check diary for her 13th birthday and immediately started writing about her experiences.
Anne died weeks before the liberation of Bergen-Belsen as did her mother, Edith, and her sister Margot. Anne Frank became a symbol of Jewish suffering under the Nazis.
Her diary, later entitled 'The Diary of Anne Frank', was translated into 50 languages and became one of the most popular books in the world. The apartment in Amsterdam where the family hid, Number 263 Prinsengracht, is now the Anne Frank museum.