Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Dreams by Anne

“I finally realised that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that's what I want! I know I can write ..., but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent ...
And if I don't have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can't imagine living like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! ...
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! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that's inside me!
When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?”
— Anne Frank

She most certainly did. 

Her compelling voice inspires, educates and moves people still to this day. Words she wrote during a time of great suffering and loss, when freedom of speech was an unspoken luxury.

In Amsterdam, you can't help be wrapped up in the history and story of Anne Frank - and if you're not - you need to be. A recent trip to the beautiful city taught me this.

Her journal entries are drenched in compassion and empathy, and her visions and view of the world far exceed her youthful existence, enlightening people from all walks of life.

In 1933, Anne and her family escaped their home in Frankfurt for the Netherlands when the Nazis gained control of the country. The German occupation in 1942 had targeted Jews living in Amsterdam and elsewhere in the Netherlands and as the attacks worsened and their safety was under threat, the concealed rooms of the building known as the annex where Anne’s father, Otto, worked was their only saving grace. Here, along with eight other people, Anne and her family remained in hiding for two years.

On Anne’s 13th birthday, Anne was presented with a diary from her parents. A space to express and reflect; an indulgence denied by the repressive Nazi regime.

Its blank pages became a friend to trust and confide in. Someone who would listen without judgment or criticism.

She writes:

“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.” 

Anne's words talk of what it is like to be a young Jewish girl living in hiding in Amsterdam, and shed light on her vision and view of the world. Soaked in wisdom and rich honesty, Anne finds abundant solace in her words.

But the essence of all her entries is this:

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death.”

She believes in the good of all people, despite her life’s circumstances in the face of cruel racial hatred.

And it is this exactly, which has taken the world by surprise and deep respect.

Here is a collection of words from the pages of Anne’s diary:

“And finally I twist my heart round again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside, and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and could be, if there weren't any other people living in the world.”

“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!”

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”

Sadly, Anne and the others in hiding were discovered after being betrayed by a worker in the building. Anne and her sister Margot were later transferred to the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp where they tragically died from Typhus in 1945. Anne was 15 years old.

The only survivor from the annex was Anne’s father Otto. He returned to Amsterdam following the war and found that Anne’s diary had been saved and made it his mission to push for its publication, following his daughter’s wish.

“After the war I’d like to publish a book called The Secret Annexe. It remains to be seen whether I’ll succeed, but my diary can serve as a basis.” 

Otto was recalled saying: "For me it was a revelation ... I had no idea of the depth of her thoughts and feelings ... She had kept all these feelings to herself".

He knew the world needed to hear Anne’s words, which spoke of universal values like tolerance, empathy and reconciliation.

In 1947, the chronicles of Anne’s life were published first in Dutch and since, in multiple languages, reaching people globally. It has been adapted to both film and theatre and continues to touch people regardless of age, culture and religion.

Otto devoted the remainder of his life working for human rights. He answered thousands of letters from people who had read Anne’s diary and concluded each letter with these words: “I hope Anne's book will have an effect on the rest of your life so that insofar as it is possible in your own circumstances, you will work for unity and peace.”

Anne’s published diary attracted much attention to the hiding place, leading to it being saved and restored. Now called the Anne Frank House, the museum opened its doors to the public in 1960, attracting close to a million visitors each year. If you are in Amsterdam, without a shadow of a doubt, visit Anne’s home and learn more of her remarkable story.

In honour of Anne and what she stands for, the Anne Frank Trust was established in England in 1990 to challenge prejudice and reduce hatred. The trust works in schools, prisons and communities to educate and dissolve the thinking behind discrimination. Learn more about their fabulous work by watching this video

Question: Why do you think it's important - if not essential - to believe in the good of all people? Scribble your thoughts in the comment box below :)

Anne Frank House

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