An incredibly important figure in world history, Anne Frank brought a new perspective to the devastation of the Holocaust and World War II through her famous diary, which has become one of the most well-known books in the world. Anne’s words gave a sympathetic and understandable face to the horrors of the Holocaust — the thoughts of an innocent child facing tragedy and violence.
Growing up in Frankfurt, Germany during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power put Anne in danger at an early age. When she was five, the Franks fled to the Netherlands along with thousands of other Jews, attempting to escape the mounting oppression and violence of the Nazis. Although Anne began to feel safer in the Netherlands, her family’s refuge would soon be stripped away. The Dutch surrendered to Germany in 1940, only six years after the Franks had arrived, bringing the harsh restrictions of the Holocaust straight to Anne’s front door. Her father, Otto, began creating a hidden living space for his family known as the secret annex, which Anne stayed in for more than two years with her family and four friends. It was during her time in this place that Anne began her famous diary.
Anne’s words have brought the atrocities of the Holocaust into perspective for many people. They have inspired the world with messages of passion, love, and sacrifice triumphing over evil, cruelty, and despair. But even her diary could not include the worst of the genocide. The occupants of the secret annex were found in a Nazi police raid in 1944, and Anne, like millions of other Jews, tragically died soon afterward in a labor camp, never completing her diary.
Like many women in history, Anne Frank’s words have been taken advantage of and used for others’ personal gain. While her messages are important, they are often misquoted and taken out of context. Many reference her quote “people are really good at heart”, but fail to acknowledge her general despair and anxiety surrounding the war which become clear in the rest of her writing. It is important to understand how easily women have been pushed aside in history, and how monumental a single girl’s actions can be. Anne Frank’s works have given a voice to Holocaust victims who would never have been heard, and have had a major effect on the memory of this terrible historical event.