Civic Imagination

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of A Young Girl is a nonfiction book of diary entries written by Anne Frank during her two years in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, until she was apprehended in 1944. The diary was retrieved from the secret annex where the teenage girl hid with her family and was given to her father, the family’s only survivor, after the war. Since being published in Amsterdam in 1947, the book has gained widespread popularity across the globe. It contains an honest portrayal of the horrors of war seen through the eyes of a young girl, as well as the many more simple matters that all young girls face and can relate to. Anne’s diary allows its readers to look at the world through the eyes of the oppressed, and see that we are all more alike than we seem.

I first read The Diary of A Young Girl in middle school, and just reread it this past summer. I was shocked by how much Anne’s life reminded me of my own experiences growing up. Although we lived in different continents at different times, I could relate to the more simple aspects of her life like wishing I was taken more seriously, or dealing with my parents and older sibling. This made me question what my life could have been like had I not been born when, or where, I did. Another thing that struck me was how optimistic Anne was throughout times of great struggle. Although most people would say that she experienced things no one should have to face, she often wrote about those who were less fortunate and how lucky she was. The story also resonated with me because I found that many of the circumstances Anne faced can be applied to other aspects of the world today. 

This story can inspire many people who face oppression and discrimination, as Anne serves as an example of maintaining optimism and strength in the hardest of times. However, it can also inspire those in positions of power to combat the oppression and discrimination that other communities face. In certain passages Anne talks about the fact that other countries don’t feel obligated to help, or that those in the Netherlands, which was once seen as a refuge for Jews, are now beginning to turn their back on the Jews. “Oh it’s sad, very sad, that the old adage has been confirmed for the umpteenth time,” she writes, “What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does reflects on all Jews.” She also says “I love Holland. Once I hoped it would become a fatherland to me, since I had lost my own. And I hope so still!” In America specifically, this book as a whole, but specifically those passages can lead people to examine their point of view on the Syrian refugee crisis, and the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric. 

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