Dear Anne | Read-A-Long Diaries

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a contribution to the brilliant Read-A-Long Diaries Event; if you haven't read The Diary of a Young Girl yet, or would like to go again along with other people so you can discuss, remember to use #readalongdiaries on Twitter and Instagram! I'd check out Ely and Inge's blogs too - they've worked so hard to organise this, and it really is amazing, so make sure you stop by and say hi.
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(Ely made this banner. She said I could steal it.)
Dear Anne,

I have often wondered what it is about you that makes your story so inspiring, that has allowed it to survive through the generations even when you didn't. Don't get me wrong: I'm glad it did. I'm glad that, through your diary, we've been able to recognise all the pain and sacrifice Holocaust victims suffered just so they could try to maintain a normal life.

But why you? Why did your voice get heard above the millions of others who died?

Of course you went through terrible, heart-wrenching things, but those people did too. Your beliefs and behaviours were ripped apart, changed almost completely by these terrible things - but lots of people felt their beliefs change during the war. I see all this, all these similarities that could arguably make you just one of many, and yet there's no way I can deny the unique effect your words had on me and other people around the world.
"And all I really want is to be an honest-to-goodness teenager!" ~ Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Maybe it's because you were so young. It's one thing to have gone through the Holocaust as a child and write about it as an adult, like Elie Wiesel did with Night (another beautiful book that had me in tears, but in a very different way), but to write down those thoughts as you had them, without the filter of experience or regret? That, to me, created something entirely different, something raw and unapologetic. However you want to put it, Anne, you did go into that Annexe seeped in innocence. What made your diary so moving is that I could see first-hand as that innocence got stripped away by the horrors of persecution. Because it was logged day to day, I barely noticed at first - I doubt you did, either - but as soon as I really thought about it? The Anne on Page 283 was the same girl, but almost unrecognisable to the girl on Page 1.

If that makes any sense whatsoever. I think it does, just about.

“It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” ~ Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Maybe it's because, even as that situation stripped away your innocence and your thirteen-year-old self, you held on to her morals. It would have been completely understandable for you to become bitter and unbelieving after all you had to suffer: many of the strongest did, after all. That wouldn't have been wrong. But what made your story inspiring as well as heartbreaking was that you stubbornly refused to let go of your ideals.
"I'd like to spend all my time writing, but that would probably get boring." ~ Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Maybe - and this thought is very specific to me, I suppose - it's because you were a writer. I can relate to those endless hours attempting to scratch out something of worth, and look up to how organic your words are, how it's more like you're thinking on the page than actually writing. I hope even non-writers can understand what it's like to find release in something, to want to do it every second of every day until it almost takes you over. The joy and frustration and fascination . . . it seeps through the pages, and it's so inspiring that you managed to follow your dreams even cooped up like that for so long. I guess I must be able to at least try, if you did.

Maybe it's because there's no other book about the Holocaust that's so raw, and unfiltered, and real.

Do you know what? I think that's it. I think all the other things I've talked about - your youth, your stubborness and your fascination with writing - have combined with a thousand other things to create something uniquely true. And I've suddenly realised that, in my quest to work out what it is that makes your story so special, I've forgotten to do the most important thing.
I've forgotten to thank you.

You'll never know the effect your diary had on so many people. You'll never know that it's had me in tears three times, or that last time I read it I was so moved I pulled out a yellow highlighter and started marking quotes I wanted to remember. You'll never know that on some pages, there's more yellow words than there are un-highlighted. But I really, truly wish you could know that you've been published, and that your book has been read by millions of people in dozens of languages. That would have been what you'd wanted, after all.

Happy birthday, Anne. I hope you are proud of what you have created.

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In the comments: Is there anything that you'd like to say to Anne, if you could? Would you want to thank her, or ask her questions, or tell her what her work has meant to you? I'd love to hear how her diary has affected you, because I'm sure we've all been touched in very different ways.
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5 comments:

  1. Oh God, that was a rollercoaster of emotions. I squealed with excitement when I saw pop up on Bloglovin', and I grinned at your little intro, and now I'm sobbing like a baby. I agree with everything you've said here, and it really got me thinking about why Anne Frank is so important to me. I did a post about it earlier in the year, but now I want to write another one just so I talk more about the points you raised here.

    I'm so so very thankful (as is Inge) that you took the time to write this post for our little event. It really means so much to us that you would put so much time and effort into it! I can't wait to force everyone I know to read this post. Thank you again, Lara <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OH NO I MADE HER CRY! Tissues, tissues. *looks around blindly for the box*

      The first thing I would like to say is NO LET ME BE THANKFUL! I really appreciate the fact you let little old me help with this little event, because you've put so much amazing work into it and I've had such fun, too. The effort was all part of that. :-)

      Ooh, do write another Anne Frank post! I'd really love to read it.

      Delete
  2. Lara, this post is absolutely fantastic. Thank you for your wonderful contribution. I'm reading it for the first time, and I'm just marvelling at how relatable this girl is. And laughing at her snark. And quoting all the things. But I do see her innocence waning as I make progress. *sigh*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Firstly, I would like to thank you for your thank you. It really means a lot to me that you think this post is "wonderful" (still squealing a little about the fact you just said that) and this comment really made me smile today. So good job! :-)

      I SO envy you reading this book for the first time! (Hopefully I haven't ruined anything for you . . . I kind of forgot that not everyone has already finished it.) The best of luck not crying at the end! You will fail.

      (BTW, I removed your other comment 'cos it was a repeat. Hope you don't mind!)

      Delete
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