The first time that I read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was when I was 12. The book had an immense impact on me. I saw a girl who was just like any other teenaged girl who was fun loving vivacious, very popular amongst peers. The difference in her is her positive outlook and brave spirit. It is this brave spirit that got her through that trying and difficult time of being in hiding from the Nazis. Her only fault – she was a Jew. They got trapped in Amsterdam, Netherlands in May 1940 with the German occupation of the Netherlands. One by one, all the rights of the Jews were taken away by the Nazis. But Anne and her family still continued to adjust till one day, what they feared happened. Her elder sister, Margot received a call up notice to report for relocation to the Work Camp. Otto Frank, their father, immediately took the decision to go into hiding, They moved into a small place over his office which was a three story place. It may sound very big, but it was a very tiny place, almost like a storeroom. Little by little, more people joined them at the hiding place and there were 16 people staying there. The restrictions were terrible. They could not use water during the day in the bathroom as there was a fully functional office below their hiding place and they couldn’t risk being heard. They had to survive on what the few people who were helping them in their hiding place could get for them as rations. Anne kept her spirit positive and cheered everyone up even when she was depressed.
Their hiding place was discovered by the Nazis and Anne Frank, her sister and mother were moved to one concentration camp and their father Otto Frank was sent to another concentration camp. Anne, her sister and mother died in terrible conditions at the concentration camp. Anne Frank was only 15 when she died. She had received her diary on 12th June 1942, her thirteenth birthday, With the other females not selected for immediate death, Anne was forced to strip naked to be disinfected, had her head shaved, and was tattooed with an identifying number on her arm. By day, the women were used as slave labour and Anne was forced to haul rocks and dig rolls of sod; by night, they were crammed into overcrowded barracks. Even in the camp, Anne tried to bolster her mother’s and sister’s spirits. There was an epidemic of Typhus and Typhoid fever in the camps and Anne and Margot both caught the infection. Margot soon died from the infection. This finally broke Anne’s spirit and she also died soon after. The only survivor of this unimaginable cruelty and torture was Anne Frank’s father Otto Frank.
He went back to their hiding place and found Anne’s diary which thankfully had not fallen into the Nazis’ hands. It took him weeks to finish reading it as he broke down after every few pages. He decided to fulfill Anne’s only recorded wish that she wanted to write a book and her diary would help in it. Inspite of all this, Anne had complete faith in humanity. In her own words,” “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” A quote that touches my heart and makes me cry every time I read it.
I had visited Amsterdam and the first place on my list was Anne Frank House which had opened to public to see the conditions Anne Frank and her family had stayed in. My mother was not aware of her story. She only came to know the story when she visited the Anne Frank House. My mother very rarely cries. She was in tears all throughout while hearing her story and looking at the conditions they stayed in. You can only realise how tiny the place is, how cramped for sixteen members and what horrible conditions they lived in when you actually see the place. No pictures can do justice to it. Hence, I am not going to even try.
A statue of Anne Frank outside Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.