Diary of a Young Girl

Brussels 120 As part of our exploration of sites in Europe related to World War II, we visited Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, after each of us had read books relating to her life.  No photos were allowed inside the house, so I can’t offer much of note photographically.  And, Anne’s father Otto desired that no furniture be left in the house as it transitioned to a museum, so there wasn’t much to photograph in each room.

Somewhat incredibly, I had never read Anne Frank’s diary before our trip.  This book, I believe, should be mandatory for all high school students.  It’s such a powerful story, with the innocence and life joy of young Anne (she wrote this when she was 13-15 years old), and the devastating and sad conclusion of her life.  As the Allies mounted successful initiatives in Europe, and as the German choke grip was beginning to loosen, someone betrayed the Frank family, and they were arrested and sent to Auschwitz.  Anne’s diary stops two days before being captured, and the specifics of her life after that aren’t known in fine detail.  But she, her sister Margot, and her mother died in Auschwitz within weeks of the liberation of prisoners there.  Her father was the only family survivor and went on to live to reach age 91.

In reading the diary, it was clear that young Anne had only a limited understanding of the consequences of being arrested.  She knew the occupying Germans were evil, and that many friends and relatives were being arrested and deported.  But there is no sign that she understood the horrors awaiting anyone who was arrested.  It’s possible the adults in the Frank house had a clearer understanding, but my guess from Anne’s description of household operations is that they were also unaware of the certain death awaiting anyone arrested by the Nazis. 

Many things were imprinted on my from reading Anne Frank’s diary, and visiting the house and museum in Amsterdam.  Among them is the urgency of taking action.  Had Anne Frank survived just one month longer, she might well be alive today.  Had the Allies not turned the tide on the Germans when they did, many more would have died.  Sometimes matters of life and death are exactly that.

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