Thursday, 12 June 2014

Anne Frank's Diary - 12 June 1942

72 years ago today, on the 12th of June 1942, Anne Frank received this red and white checkered notebook as a gift on her 13th birthday. She decided she would use it as a diary and started writing in it that very day. Written between June 1942 and August 1944 when she was captured by the Nazis and eventually died at a concentration camp, this wartime diary is one of the most read and talked about accounts of the time. In addition to her personal reflections, this diary captures the madness of Nazi occupation and the Second World War. It is also what we picked as the "must-read" for the 20th century period in our article "Ten Historical Periods, Ten Great Reads"

During the spring of 1944, Anne heard a radio broadcast by a member of Dutch government in exile saying he would create a public record of the Dutch people's oppression under German occupation. This spurred Anne to start a thorough revision and rewrite with the aim of publishing after the war. A May 1944 entry expressed her wish to become a writer. She intended to publish a book based on her diary entries and also a novel. Unfortunately she was captured before she could complete her rewrite. We can only be thankful that employees and helpers of the family preserved the writings and handed them to Anne's father after the war.

Anne Frank has since been nominated as one of  Time Magazine's 100 most influential people of the 20th century and translations of the book based on the diary is in several lists of top books of the century. It has been adapted for the Academy Award winning movies and Pulitzer Prize winning plays. It is even the subject of recent controversy when protagonists of the 2014 movie (and John Greene novel) "The Fault in Our Stars" share a kiss in the Anne Frank house.

In April 1944, Anne wrote "I want to go on living even after my death". She did not know then how her diary would become one of the most widely read books in the world and 1,195, 456 visitors would come see her "Secret Annexe" in 2013, almost 70 years after her death. This chronicle of human tragedy and teenage girlhood continues to appeal to audiences across times and ages and encourages us to reflect on the dangers of the slippery slope of racism and importance of freedom & equality.