As the Nazi Party swept through Holland, a wave of anti-semitic laws were passed which barred hard working individuals of the Jewish faith from owning businesses, practicing law and holding other forms of employment. Hitler began rounding up members of the Jewish community and imprisoning them in concentration camps. Otto Frank, a businessman, anticipated his family’s suffering and on July 6, 1942, they entered hiding in the “secret annex.” The small attic space above a business required the inhabitants of the attic spend their days in complete silence and little movement as the businessmen downstairs kept their secret.
While living in the “secret annex,” 13 year old Anne Frank composed daily entries in her diary, where she revealed an intellect gift for writing and insight into the world beyond her years. The Franks and their friends resided in the attic for 25 months until a Nazi informant revealed their position, leading to their deportation to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Anne Frank, her older sister, her mother and their family friends were separated and died at the hands of their captors in deplorable conditions. The exact date of Anne Frank’s death is unknown but historians estimate the date of her death may have occurred in early March, just days before Allied Forces liberated the camps and before her sixteenth birthday.
What is known however, is Anne Frank’s lasting impact on the literary world and society in general. After the war Otto Frank, the only surviving member of the family returned to the annex, where he found his daughter’s diary, which he published. In just 20 short years after the diary’s first publication, Anne’s diary has been published in 31 languages and has sold over 4 million copies. In honor of Anne, I am counting down my five favorite quotes from her novel, The Diary of a Young Girl.
5. “Sympathy, Love, Fortune… We all have these qualities but still tend to not use them!”
This quote selected as number five makes me question, why as a society do we not use our strongest qualities more often? Are we so preoccupied with life that we breeze through each day without even the slightest consideration of how we can use our best qualities for the betterment of the world? Anne considered herself fortunate. In a time when Anne and her family had very little, she considered herself to have more than most as she acknowledged the suffering of others. Anne’s desires for people to be more sympathetic, to love others without prejudice and to spread our good fortune, is still relevant in our tumultuous world. Anne merely wishes for us to utilize and share our best qualities.
4. “No one has ever become poor by giving.”
Anne’s quote is a simple statement that always rings true. I believe it is often assumed that giving has to be a grand gesture. A donation of a large sum of money is often the grand gesture that first comes to our minds when we describe giving. Large monetary donations may be something that many are unable to afford. What Anne is discussing is giving the gift of your time and although it may seem cliché, the gift of a kind word or a smile could make someone’s day. These are gifts that do not wield us poorer for giving them but richer for taking a moment to share them with those around us. Having little in the “secret annex,” Anne does not take for granted the simple gestures that brighten her day and neither should we, as we should make a point to become richer through giving.
3. “I know what I want, I have a goal, an opinion, I have a religion and love. Let me be myself and then I am satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inward strength and plenty of courage.”
How many of us were this confident when we were 13 or 14 years old? Probably not many. How many of us are this confident at this point in our lives? Anne is a hundred percent sure of herself, unwavering in her beliefs. She wants to share her goals and her opinions on every subject. Anne recognizes that she holds steadfast to her love of life and her religion. When she recognizes these elements in her life, Anne is satisfied with herself and more importantly with who she is becoming. Anne was persecuted because of her religious beliefs but as a woman Anne also faced other challenges. Anne identifies her qualities as a woman of strength and of courage, who was fully aware of the ideals she would contribute to the world.
2. “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
This quote places Anne’s life in perspective; she is a young teenager living in constricting and confining conditions. Considering the situation Anne, her family and others of the Jewish faith have endured during WWII, it would be justified if Anne was filled with bitter contempt. Instead, Anne believes that people are good at heart. The word that always strikes me in this quote is “people”. Anne does not distinguish types of people. She does not state, “I believe the Jewish people” nevertheless, she encompasses all people not excluding those who are persecuting her. Like all of Anne’s work, she shows a compassion for the human spirit.
1. “I want to go on living even after my death. And therefore, I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me.”
Finally, this is my favorite Anne Frank quote for many reasons. The two main motives behind my favoritism for this quote are the infinitive spirit of the first sentence and Anne’s acknowledgement of her talent. The first sentence is biting as it strikes a blow to the reader. Anne has more than accomplished her goal of continuing to live after her unwarranted death. It is as if Anne, who was easily able to peer into the human soul, was able to predict the outcome of her writing. Each time anyone reads The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne’s words continue to ensure her legacy. Secondly, Anne also acknowledges and thanks God for her writing talent. As always, Anne is self-aware of the notion that her diary was a way of expressing not only her emotions but the emotions of people. I always read this quote with a sad air of inevitability. As if Anne discerned her death was inevitable and if she could leave behind one wish, one thank you note and one quote to be remembered for, she decided to write what has become my favorite quote.
The uncertainty and horrible circumstances surrounding the date of Anne Frank’s death serves as a reminder of the cruel intentions caused by discrimination. However, the stirring wisdom behind Anne’s poignant quotes illustrate the power and the lasting effect the written word can have on society, while moving humanity towards a more humane and tolerant culture.