The story behind the diary of Anne Frank
One of the most influential books of the 20th century, written by a teenage girl, "The Diary of a Young Girl", first reached bookstores on this day in 1947. The book is more commonly known as "The Diary of Anne Frank", providing readers with a unique view of life as a Jew hiding in Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Till date, it has been translated into 70 languages with over 30 million copies sold worldwide.
Anne received a notebook as her 13th birthday present on June 12, 1942, and began recording her life. She addressed the entries to a fictional friend called Kitty and wrote about her everyday experiences with unparalleled wit, style and clarity. Despite being a personal diary, it managed to provide a closer look into the lives of Jews as they survived the annihilation.
Anne, along with her family, fled to Amsterdam in 1934 in order to avoid Nazi oppression. The Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940 and began implementing anti-Jewish policies. Through her experiences, Anne documented these systematic attacks and detailed the laws that exploited them. Post war, her writings became a precious resource for understanding the horrors of the holocaust.
While the factual aspects of her diary are widely discussed, Anne also mentioned that she wishes to pursue a career in journalism. Her literary journey is not just limited to her diary as she wrote several works of fiction that have been published in English. She was said to be inspired by the Dutch government in exile. In March 1944, a radio broadcast by Gerrit Bolkestein urged people to preserve civilian letters, records and journals. These documents were to be archived after the war and after hearing this, Anne began preparing her diary for publication.
The Franks went into hiding after Anne's sister was summoned for relocation. As the Nazi brutality became more hostile, her parents decided to transfer their family to a secret apartment on Prinsengracht. Eventually four other Jewish people joined them in this concealed space, which Anne fondly called the Secret Annex.
The whole work might have been lost to history if not for Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, two women who worked furiously to conceal the Franks and other Jews from Nazi prosecution. In the wake of the arrest, Gies and Voskuijl slipped into the hiding space to recover personal items before they could be removed by the Germans or Dutch police. Gies presented Anne's father, Otto Frank, with Anne's red-checkered diary and a few other notebooks, which he later compiled into a manuscript.
Gies published her memoir, "Anne Frank Remembered," in 1987 where she recollected her experiences of protecting Jewish families from the atrocities. Another book, "Miep and the Most Famous Diary", narrates tales of her courage as she risked her own life to save several others. She strived to protect each of Anne's writings, but never read them herself. While Anne's story is one of resilience, Miep's life stands to be an epitome of courage.
The author is a freelance journalist who likes reading, planning, and scribbling. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.