The teenager from the title above took two years to write her book. Since publication, it has sold over thirty million copies in seventy or more languages. Yet she never saw a penny of the profits.
How unfair! Who robbed her of what she justly earned? Unscrupulous agents? Greedy relatives? Crony capitalists?
She was robbed, all right, but not by any of the above. No one stole her money. Instead, she was robbed of life. She never lived to see its publication.
The author’s name? Anne Frank. If you never heard of her before, it’s time to be educated.
Anne was a Jewish girl living in Holland. Her parents had already fled Nazi Germany a few years earlier, but once Hitler invaded the Netherlands, the family had nowhere left to go. They created a hiding place in a warehouse and relied on the help of trusted Christian friends.
Anne had received a diary for her thirteenth birthday in June of 1942. Like any other teen diary, she filled it with all the innocence and joy of a well-loved child, and she eventually shared the normal teen angst of young love and the struggle to gain independence as an adolescent.
But time was marching every Jew in Europe toward annihilation. The shadow of the Gestapo attacked Anne’s happy-go-lucky view of life. While she maintained a clownish exterior, on the inside, Anne became a deep thinker. She began to record her thoughts on a world at war, on life, on humanity. For the next two years, she grew into a serious young woman, determined to hold onto joy.
On August 4, 1944, Holland’s secret police force, deputized by the Nazis, hauled away Anne, her family, and all those known to have helped them. After ransacking the apartment, the thugs left her diary on the floor as part of the debris. Friends found it and kept it.
Her father was the only one to survive the Holocaust. Anne, her mother, and sister perished in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen.
When Otto Frank read the diary, he agreed the world needed to know Anne’s story and her unsinkable, victorious spirit.
Other autobiographies have been written covering the atrocities of World War II. What makes the Diary of Anne Frank so special?
I think there are three reasons.
- Anne Frank really was an excellent writer. Who knows what novels or essays she might have written if she had been allowed to mature to adulthood? The words on the pages of her diary provide us with accurate and heartrending pictures of what she and the others went through living in the Secret Annexe.
- She wrote it in the “now.” Diary of Anne Frank really is a diary; it’s not a memoir. She recorded what happened on the very day the events occurred, or at least within the week.
- In spite of everything, Anne believed in the “good of man.” Her statement smacks of secular humanism, but having read the book several times, I believe she could see God’s image in man. Every person has the potential of God’s goodness in them. Her worldview strikes a chord in all of us. We want it to be so. We want Anne’s courage and optimism.
Tomorrow, as we celebrate Christ’s victory over sin, may we be able to praise Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. This world still holds the evil that created the Holocaust. We are in the throes of a renewed holocaust as we hear of atrocities in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan, Nigeria, and a host of other nations hostile to anything but their own creed.
But be of good cheer. Jesus has overcome the world.