Close your eyes for a moment and picture being stripped of everything you have ever known. You and your family are brutally robbed of every possession you have worked so hard for and you are forced to wear a symbol on your arm that brands you as inferior. People call you names, physically attack you or even kill you without a cause. They say your value as a human being is equal to the value of a sewer rat.
Your friends have been taken from their homes and many have been exterminated. There are rumors about death camps where people like you are being mass murdered by gasing. You are hiding, but you know it is only a matter of time before you and your family are taken to be killed. There is no one to turn to. Everyone is your enemy. Everyone hates you. How do you survive? How do you save your loved ones from impending death?
This horrific scenario is not fictional. The Jewish people were subjected to these and other horrors by the Nazi regime under the control of Adolf Hitler during World War II. Otto Frank was one such Jewish man who was forced to take his family into hiding to save them from certain death at the hands of the Nazi. His youngest daughter, Annelies Marie Frank, better known as Anne Frank, kept a diary all the while her family was in hiding for 26 months, living in darkness and quiet to avoid being caught.
The Diary of a Young Jewish Girl
On 4 August 1944 the Frank family, along with four other people hiding in the annex on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, were arrested and dragged off to the Auschwitz death camp following an anonymous tip given to the police. Anne’s diary, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’ recounting her thoughts and struggles in hiding was later recovered and first published in America in 1952, two years after her death at the age of 15.
Over the years, Anne’s powerful words and insights have offered comfort and bravery to millions of people living amid war, violence, bigotry and fear. Her diary, one among many such collections of diaries and letters dealing with the war, still stands out as one of the most profound to date.
The Death of A Brilliantly Gifted Young Writer
Anne died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, located in what is today Lower Saxony in northern Germany, in 1945 of Typhus, not long after her sister Margot who was 19. What makes this real life story sadder is the knowledge that had the Frank family remained hidden six weeks longer they would likely have survived the war. That’s because that part of the Netherlands was liberated the first two weeks of September. You have to wonder what Anne, a brilliantly gifted young writer and thinker, would have become if she were allowed to grow up into adulthood.
Remembering the People Who Perished in the Holocaust
Let us always remember and honor Anne, her family and the millions of other men, women and children—both Jewish and non-Jewish—who suffered unspeakable cruelty under Nazi Germany and died in the Holocaust. What better way to do just that than to highlight some of the most saddening yet inspiring and uplifting quotes from the diary of Anne Frank? The innocence, courage and hope in this young girl’s words give us the chills, but still comfort and inspire us today—seven decades later.
“I live in a crazy time.”
“It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”
“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”
“Would anyone, either Jew or non-Jew, understand this about me, that I am simply a young girl badly in need of some rollicking fun?”
“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”
“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
“Whoever is happy will make others happy.”
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
“Riches can all be lost, but that happiness in your own heart can only be veiled, and it will still bring you happiness again, as long as you live. As long as you can look fearlessly up into the heavens, as long as you know that you are pure within, and that you will still find happiness.”
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
“There’s only one rule you need to remember: laugh at everything and forget everybody else! It sounds egotistical, but it’s actually the only cure for those suffering from self-pity.”
“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left – in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you. Look at these things, then you find yourself again, and God, and then you regain your balance.”
“Although I’m only fourteen, I know quite well what I want, I know who is right and who is wrong. I have my opinions, my own ideas and principles, and although it may sound pretty mad from an adolescent, I feel more of a person than a child, I feel quite independent of anyone.”
“People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn’t stop you from having your own opinion. Even if people are still very young, they shouldn’t be prevented from saying what they think.”
“In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.”
“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.”
“As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?”
“He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery!”
Featured photo credit: Ronni Kurtz via unsplash.com