This week is the 75th anniversary of Anne Frank receiving the red plaid diary that would become known around the world. The diary, a gift on her thirteenth birthday in June, 1942, became the place where Anne Frank noted her thoughts about life in the confines of an attic. It holds her questions and frustrations and her dreams – including her goal to become a writer. Her first entry: “I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”
You can tour the attic where Anne lived with her family and others, hidden away two years, from right after that birthday until August, 1944, when the Nazis discovered the hiding place and arrested everyone there. After a morning inside the building (where no photos are allowed), we emerged back on the street. We walked the neighborhoods around the Anne Frank Huis. And I realized that this is what Anne would have known from the age of 4, when her family moved from Germany to Amsterdam, to the month she turned 13. Here is where she played as a young girl. She visited friends along these roads. She went to school and family gatherings. These are the canals and bridges she would have longed to see during her hiding. Here’s a look at this quaint area today. How teenage Anne Frank would have loved to spend even one day free to roam here!
If you have not read her diary, I highly recommend perusing it. The depth of insight, the everyday happenings of life sequestered in a dank attic, the poignancy of a young girl’s thoughts as discovery and death threatened her daily – all this makes for an amazing book.
This quote sums up the world view of a young girl called on to suffer unjustly: “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”
If you’re in Amsterdam, be sure to tour the attic. It’s a sobering reminder that this world is full of all kinds of people. And sometimes a teenager wise beyond her years can enlighten us and help us look for the good at heart.