Sandhya talks about The Diary Of A Young Girl – the heartbreaking journal of Anne Frank describing the cruelty of mindless persecution.
This story has been shortlisted and published for our June ‘As You Write It’ writing theme: The Book That Hooked Me.
Sandhya, in her own words: I am a book-loving, stay-at-home-mom to an equally book-loving 11 year old. I read anything and everything, especially children’s books, that I review on Saffrontree. I am fascinated by words, the way language evolved and is used.
If she had survived the Holocaust, and lived to this day, Anne Frank would have been 83 years old, on the 12th of June, 2012. Would she have realized her dream of becoming a published writer? I think she would have. Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl is one of the most riveting pieces of work that I have ever come across. What makes it so compelling is the fact that the writer was just an ordinary girl in her teens, writing about the ordinary things of everyday life in extraordinary circumstances and died at sixteen.
In July 1942, Anne’s family, along with some of their friends, went into hiding from the Nazi persecution of the Jews. They remained hidden in the Secret Annexe (as Anne calls their hiding place in a hidden area of her father’s office building).They were helped from the outside by loyal non-Jew friends, who kept them supplied with food, essentials and news.
Unfortunately, they were discovered in August 1944. Anne’s diary has its last entry on 1st August 1944. In the 2-odd years that they remained hidden, she wrote all her thoughts and experiences – the good, bad, and the ugly – in a diary that she received for her 13th birthday, from her father, Otto Frank. Miep Gies, the lady who was one of their helpers, found the diary along with other papers after their arrest, kept it safe, and handed it over to Otto, who returned after the war as the only survivor.
Anne literally grows through her diary entries – we see her blossoming as a person, as an insightful, thinking, caring human being. Entries in the beginning show her to be a relatively spoilt, fairly self-centered little person whose otherwise quick mind is engaged in many inconsequential things. We see little girls like this around us so often.
Anne says this of herself – “I look back at that Anne Frank as a pleasant, amusing, but superficial girl, who has nothing to do with me. I’d like to live that seemingly carefree and happy life for an evening, a few days, a week. At the end of that week, I’d be exhausted, and would be grateful to the first person to talk to me about something meaningful. I want friends, not admirers.”
I must have been around thirteen when I discovered this book. Just around Anne’s age when she began her diary. I was mesmerized by the book, amazed at her thoughts and feelings, which so closely mirrored my own as an adolescent. I connected with Anne and her thoughts, across the divide of time and place. I was drawn into her world. I think my fascination with history: specifically, the Holocaust, and my interest in writing, somehow began with this book.
Her ruminations on the books she read were also my first brushes with feminism, of a sort. “I was greatly struck by the fact that in childbirth alone, women commonly suffer more pain, illness and misery than any war hero ever does. And what’s her reward for enduring all that pain? She gets pushed aside when she’s disfigured by birth, her children soon leave, her beauty is gone… I don’t mean to imply that women should stop having children – what I condemn are our system of values and the men who don’t acknowledge how great, difficult, but ultimately beautiful women’s share in society is.”
Anne’s journey is one of loss, but also one of hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Again, in her words – “I still believe, inspite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”