Bibliographic Information on the Book
The Diary of Anne Frank was written by Anne Frank, then a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl. It is known commonly as the Diary of a Young Girl. During the holocaust, she fled together with her family when the Nazi government was killing the Jews. It is a dependable classic, providing information of the things, which transpired during the holocaust period. It was published in Dutch in 1947, but due to its vital information, it received translations into several other languages. The Dutch production was entitled Het Achterhius, which means the Secret Annex. Its first publication in English was in 1952, which had an instant powerful impact. The book was produced into a play and a film in the years 1955 and 1959 respectively. The Netherlands Institute for documenting wars affirmed the diaries’ authenticity after The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition was published in 1986.
Context on the Author
This book's author is a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl, who stayed in Amsterdam. She was born in 1929 on 12 June, in Frankfurt, Germany. The family moved to Amsterdam after the Nazi assumed power in 1933. However, the 1940 German invasion of the Netherlands shortened their quiet stay in Amsterdam. This Jewish family went into a hideout, in 1942, when the anti-Jewish measures increased and hence their safety became uncertain. Therefore, the context of the other is during the Nazi conquest of the Netherlands and imposition of their anti-Jew policy, which was meant to wipe out all the Jews. It was also the World War II period where Germany had established forced labor camps and concentration camps for prisoners. They would transport war prisoners in cattle cars, which were sealed at the back into the concentration and forced labor camps. Here, they would torture them with hard work and harsh living conditions. Most prisoners were starved to death, and others perished from diseases in the camps.
Summary of the Author’s Experiences
Anne possessed a red-checkered diary, which she had received from her parents as a gift. She recorded every bit of things she could observe, alongside her own reflections, during the period her family was in the hideout. The diary notes portray her maturity, sensitiveness, wisdom and gift in writing. Although a young girl of only thirteen years, the survival of her diary after the World War II revealed her indomitable spirit. In the hideouts, the Frank family together with their other Jewish friends had received help from the Otto Frank employers. There was a small room with an attic in his place of work, where his employers hid them, out of their love and willingness to help Frank. Anne chose to call the place their Secret Annex, where they decided to hide from the Nazi government.
Otto Frank’s employers also risked their lives by hiding Jews. Adolph Hitler had decreed that anyone who was found hiding a Jew would be murdered. However, the plan was a success story as it was kept a top secret. Only few employees knew of the hideouts of the Jews in the Secret Annex. The Franks together with their friends managed to hide for two years without interacting with the outside world. Their point of contact was the people who hid them in the office. They would feed them and update them on the progress of the war and the decrees by the Nazi government. The door to the Annex was blocked by a bookcase, which concealed the hideouts of the Jews. The Dutch protectors were faithful to keep the secret annex a top secret.
However, after two years, the Jews could no longer hide in the small room. The Gestapo came searching the office, in response to a tip. The Dutch protectors’ destructions of the Gestapo could not divert their attention. They managed to move the bookcase, consequently discovering the Annex. After the discovery, the Jews in the Annex did not resist but surrendered, to the Gestapo. They packed few of their belonging and left with the Gestapo. Anne did not carry her diary along, and this is how it survived the war. The group found in the Annex was taken to the headquarters of the Gestapo for questioning. Afterwards, they were taken to a Westerbork retaining Camp in Holland by train. The journey was quite an experience for Anne since it gave the opportunity to reconnect with the outside world, which she had been away from for two years while in the Annex. The conditions at Westerbork were bearable despite food scarcity and overcrowding. The place had no firing squads, gas chambers or crematoriums.
At Westerbork, Anne spent most of her time with Peter, and in their childhood naivety, they could not figure out the danger of their position. They seemed to enjoy the freedom that had lacked for the two years while at the Secret Annex. Anne could interact with her father at night since that was when he was allowed to visit her in her barracks. Later, the two Jewish families were transported to Auschwitz concentration camp by train. They were then put in cattle cars, which were sealed, and transported to the Auschwitz camp after alighting from the train. On arrival, the women, who included Mrs. Frank, Mrs. van Daan, Margot, and Anne, were moved into a horrific concentration camp. They were shaved and stripped, and given sack dresses, to put on despite the cold weather. This was quite some torture. The women were divided into groups for purposes of work, each having a leader, and Anne, though the youngest, managed to lead her group. Often, the healthy women were separated from the frail and sick ones, who were taken to the gas chambers. The separation was done once the women were stripped and exposed to a searchlight. Anne and Margot were selected and sent to a camp in Bergen-Belsen in Germany, by the same means of cattle cars, which were sealed. A journey lasted for several days.
At Bergen-Belsen, regular assignments of work were rare. Food was also scarce hence starvation of prisoners to death. Typhus was also a rampant disease in the camp, due to the dirty living conditions. Both Margot and Anne succumbed to the disease and died with only a difference of few weeks, Margot being the first. They died after a long time of illness and suffering. Anne’s death happened only a few weeks before the British Army intervened, liberating the camp.
The author’s experience is typical of people who live through similar circumstances of torture. War victims in their residential countries often undergo torture and suffering in their hideouts and when apprehended. Therefore, she brings out the sufferings and deaths that the Jews succumbed to during the World War II. Moreover, the author represents teenagers with dreams and ambitions, which, unfortunately, did not materialize due to inevitable circumstances affecting their safety. She represents the torture women go through when they are abducted during wartime.
The author, Anne Frank, chose to keep the memoir of the war because she was optimistic of becoming a writer. Besides this, she wanted to record her dreams and reflections as she grew up as a young girl. However, she rewrote her diary entries after she heard a radio broadcast by an exiled Dutch government. The government had requested people to save their diaries during the war, which would be published after the war. This was a good motivation for Anne to write more since she hoped that one day her work would be published.
The experiences of the author were so horrific, and I personally could not stand to read some of the experiences they experienced in the wartime. I could not quite understand how people could stay indoors for two years without ever interacting with the outside world. I also struggled with the torture present in the concentration camps where the women were stripped and given sack clothes in the cold weather. The fact that they were stripped under a searchlight for scrutiny before separation was also inhumane. Indeed, it was so unjust for the Nazi government to jail the Jews and let them die off in the jail through starvation and diseases caused by lice like the typhus. I was also so much disturbed by the fact that the Nazi government jailed children too. I believe children did not deserve to suffer sentences in jail. This is because the naivety of children cannot allow them to understand the reasons of their torture. In addition, they are innocent beings, who cannot participate in war.
I was very shocked and equally saddened by the horrific encounters that this young girl together with her family went through when fleeing for their safety. The young girl was denied the opportunity to grow and enjoy life like the other teenagers. She lacked the opportunity to live, to realize the fulfillment of her ambitions like other teenagers. This is against human rights, which I would not wish to see any other teenager or individual go through in life. Indeed, the World War II encounters were horrific.
References for history paper
- Frank, A., Mooyaart, B., & Roosevelt, E. (1993). Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (2nd ed.). New York: Bantam.
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