“For me, it was a revelation. There, was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings.” —Otto Frank, recalling his feelings when reading his daughter's diary for the first time
Anne Frank, a lovely Jewish girl living in Amsterdam during Adolf Hitler’s hostile takeover, received a plaid journal from her parents for her thirteenth birthday and named it Kitty. Each journal entry begins with Anne describing her home life, school, and friends and family. In just a few short days, Anne and her family go in to hiding in the Secret Annex above her father’s, Otto Frank’s, office.
Concealed behind a wooden bookcase, the Frank family opened their hideout to another family, the van Daans, and a dentist, Mr. Dussel. The group lived there for a little over two years with the help of Otto Frank’s trusted colleagues bringing them food, books, and medicine.
Published in 1947, The Diary of a Young Girl reads much like a novel, but is nowhere near a work of fiction. While things appear to hit rock bottom, Anne remains driven to stay alive. She even wrote about what life would be like when the war ended—what she would do, where she would go, what she would eat.
When you read Anne Frank’s diary, you tell yourself that it will end differently. You begin to think that she’ll be okay and that they’ll find a way out of this horrible life.
You believe your own lie.
And as you turn each page, falling more and more in love with this adolescent girl blossoming into a woman, you subconsciously tell her that you can save her—that you know a way out, that it’ll be okay in the end.
Many chapters include the group hovering by the radio, listening intently to information from the outside world about the war, each adult betting on a different outcome. One particular entry includes a scene wherein Hitler interviews a soldier.
“Nice people, the Germans!” Anne wrote. “To think that I was once one of them too! No, Hitler took away our nationality long ago. In fact, Germans and Jews are the greatest enemies in the world.”
Anne begins to fall in love with the van Daans’s son, Peter. He is her only sense of comfort in a group falling apart. Anne barely had a relationship at all with her family, especially her mother, whom she said “lacked love and affection.” Feeling like an outcast, writing in her journal and spending time with Peter were the only two things that kept her feeling positive.
While bombs go off around the Secret Annex, her father disapproving of her friendship with Peter, and Otto’s colleagues becoming sick and injured, the once-optimistic Anne succumbs to her loneliness and thinks it better to have just died than to have come to the Secret Annex.
Anne’s diary ends on August 1, 1944, the end of a seemingly normal day that leaves you turning the page expecting to see another entry. However, the Frank family is betrayed and turned over to the Nazis and arrested on August 4, 1944.
With those few words, “Anne’s diary ends here,” a letdown overwhelms the reader, and you’re angry and frustrated that she isn’t okay—that the Nazis won—even though you knew all along how it would end.
You promised Anne it would be okay. You promised that she’d get out of there.
You beg for a different ending.
But when the true ending sets in and grief takes over, you set the book down and try to hold back tears.
Only to fail.
From Curiouser Magazine's June issue. You can read more here.