THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL
by Anne Frank
The Definitive Edition, Viking 1997
reviewed by Kenneth Lyen
It is only recently that I finally got round to reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. It records 13-year-old Anne Franks experiences from 1942 to 1944 during the Nazi occupation of Holland where 8 Jews from 3 families were hiding in a cramped warehouse annex. Eventually they were discovered by the Gestapo in 1944 and all of them were sent to concentration camps, where everyone died except for Annes father. This latest 1997 edition is one of the most comprehensive, with a new translation, and containing 30% more material than previous editions.
A remarkable book for such a young teenage girl. Honestly written, it is full of insight, humour, and humanity. In her diary, she wrote that "in spite of everything I still believe, that people are truly good at heart." Anne described their cramped quarters, their near starvation, their frustrations and conflicts living so close together, isolated from the outside world. She also related her own coming of age, which was deleted from earlier editions.
Hiding in the annexe, they had to keep quiet all the time, afraid to flush the toilet and not allowed to open their window. "Weve been strongly reminded of the fact that were Jews in chains, chained to one spot, without any rights, but with a thousand obligations... The time will come when well be people again and not just Jews!"
With clairvoyance she wrote, "Youve known for a long time that my greatest wish is to be a journalist, and later on, a famous writer. Well have to wait and see if these grand illusions (or delusions!) will ever come true, but till now Ive had no lack of topics. In any case, after the war Id like to publish a book called The Secret Annexe. It remains to be seen whether Ill succeed, but my diary can serve as the basis." Little did she realise that her dream would come true, but only posthumously.
All eight fugitives were betrayed by some informer and were arrested by the Gestapo on 4 August 1944. Anne was taken to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died, age 15 years.
Read the book for a good cry. I wish I had read it many years earlier.