Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Diary of a Young Girl, A Review by James W Nelson

iStock_000022949590_Large

At 3 a.m., March 7, 2016, I awoke, thinking about Anne Frank. There’s no getting her face and those haunting eyes out of my mind. At 3:50 a.m. I gave up, rose, got dressed and returned to this review, editing now (wrote it last night) because, for her, I want it to be perfect. I tried looking at the end of the book again, for final details, but, alas, the tears started again. To finish those last 2 pages, time has to pass first.

Reading her work was so real, learning about her interests and loves, like she was talking directly to me. I came to feel I actually knew her, and then to constantly feel this foreboding prior knowledge of her future…yes, at the end my heart broke, like never before.

****

Well, it happened. I cried. No, I didn’t sob and gasp (well, a couple light gasps—I think I earned it to have a couple—but the tears flowed quite freely. I’m sitting here alone, nobody will see me, so no point in trying to stop them.)

I’ve been aware of Anne Frank for years, but I think I’ve put off reading about her because I knew this would happen, that my heart would break. The other day at Barnes & Noble (I rarely go there) but there was her book on the shelf right in front of me, on the cover that charming young girl’s face, so I bought it.

Hard to put down. Sometimes it reads like a spy thriller, other times like the most gentle of romance, then pure autobiography of a fascinating life, and I’m so happy that girl got to experience some love, just tiny kisses, but love nonetheless. She describes her…escapades—with a boy living/hiding with them—in the most charming and gentle manner.

Even though I had never read about Anne (but had heard, vaguely, what she did and what happened to her) I think I fell in love with this thirteen-year-old girl long before I saw her, but seeing her photo on the cover of her book (and 2 others inside) cemented my feelings.

On page 11, she speaks about how the Jews are being mistreated, but as yet I don’t sense any fear from her. She’s just a young girl living her life as best she can with school friends, boys and girls both (especially, later, mentions a boy named Harry.)

She describes the rumors they hear and the news on their illegal radio, and tells of Jews disappearing, how children come home from school and find their parents gone, or a mother home from shopping and finds her whole family gone. These are things today’s people I suppose can believe…but comprehend…? I don’t think so. I know I can’t.

Anne also spoke of the yellow 6-pointed star Jews must wear.

On page 115 Anne appears to be changing, she speaks less of her “future,” and “after the war,” as if she’s beginning to sense…I don’t want to say it, but it had to be on the minds of all eight every day, of the possibility they would not survive. (At one time Anne is talking with her sister of their plans and their future “after the war.”)

Her entry, pages 114-115, November 8, 1943, she could “feel what’s coming.” Page 119 she sees Lies (I don’t remember any mention of Lies earlier) in a concentration camp. Was that a dream, or a vision? I’m not sure. It was hard for me to read sometimes, hard to concentrate when my stomach was feeling what she often absolutely felt, so even though I read every word, some words and sentences hit me harder and affected my focus.

She mentions missing this good girl friend, “Lies,” and wonders what happened to her. At the end, at the brutal camp at Belsen, they found each other again, and got to talk a bit, and cry, with barbed wire between them. Not long after that meeting, Anne’s sister, Margot, died. Nobody told her, but Anne sensed it, and died soon after, feeling ‘nothing bad was happening to her.’ She was not yet sixteen…and this is when there’s no stopping the tears.

About diaries, I wonder today how many—if any—girls keep diaries. Mothers should encourage that, and it really doesn’t matter what is said, just that a child is putting down her feelings. Anne always begins her entries with “Dear Kitty” and ends them with, “Yours, Anne.” (I read them every time. I didn’t want to miss one single word that girl wrote.) Somehow I missed who, exactly, is/was “Kitty,” but Anne talks to this entity as if a real person, a best friend.

At one time she talks of wanting to be a “great” writer, “…will I ever be able to write something great?” Sweetheart, you did—my God, how you did, and millions of people have read your words. Your words have been translated into 31 languages, so, yes, you were a great! writer.

Anne was far grown up beyond her years, so lively, and witty, funny, and intelligent, sensitive, such a charming girl—and sometimes claimed being bored—and they killed her. Every time she says something that makes me laugh (happens often) or even smile, I look at the cover and think, “They killed her. How could they kill such a beautiful child?” And of course they didn’t actually kill her, didn’t shoot her, but they put her into the circumstances that finally did kill her.

So, yes, they killed her.

On page 12, first talk of having to hide. Should any child, any honest and civil person ever have to talk of hiding? From the authorities? “I grew very anxious,” she said. From her daddy, “Enjoy your young, carefree life while you can.” But they talk of these things in the early pages (like the “call-ups,” which mean just one thing) so nonchalantly, as if expected…but of course her daddy and mummy “have” been expecting it.

On July 7, 1942, the Germans summoned Margot, Anne’s sixteen-year-old sister, to report for deportation (as if informing that her “request” had been approved.) The next morning the Franks slipped away from their home and entered—as Anne calls it in her diary—their “Secret Annexe.”

By page 39, they have moved to their “hiding” place. Imagine seven people, Anne, Margot, Daddy, Mummy, the Van Dann’s, their son, Peter (a different Peter) and later an older man, Dussel, living and hiding together in a tiny place and often sitting still and not talking for hours, having to be quiet so that workers in the same building cannot hear them, and being afraid at any unusual sound.

And they speak of “the war,” getting over…some day.

Her last entry was August 1, 1944. Was it actually her last? Her papers were strewn about the “Secret Annexe” after the Gestapo was finished. So it maybe wasn’t her last entry. We will never know, but when I got to it—the end!—it just ended! like a chopping block—to realize I was at the end—”Oh no!” Yes, the words actually came out of me. No finishing words from the author, no epilogue from this brilliant young girl.

****

On August 4, 1944, due to a Dutch informer (I hope that bastard paid dearly at his/her end) the Gestapo found them. For a few weeks they were imprisoned right there in Amsterdam.

On September 3, the day the allies captured Brussels, the eight were among the last shipment—the LAST!—of 1000 Jews to leave Holland. For three days and nights the boxcars, sealed with but one barred window high on one side, loaded with 75 people each, “wondered eastward across Germany,” all the way to Auschwitz in Poland.

Reading about Anne Frank has touched me in a way that the movie “The Sand Pebbles” touched me. I’ve watched the movie over and over, I guess hoping for a different ending, but it always ends with Steve McQueen (as Jake Holman) getting killed. I’ve read this book, “The Diary of a Young Girl” with that same hope, and I could read it ten more times—always with that same foolish hope—but it will always end the same.

Anne Frank touched me long ago, and now that I “know” her she will remain in my mind forever.

How could people treat other people so?

****

Which brings us to the year of our Lord, 2016. People just as savage, cruel, dangerous as the Nazis are again massacring other people, and on a Biblical scale. Islam—run by subhuman people genetically inbred for 1400 years—is on the march, not just in Germany and Europe, but worldwide, and they are killing not just Jews but anyone who does not agree with their hideous and cruel ideology.

****

Exactly 24 hours have passed since finishing and I have managed to blubber my way through those last two pages, but not without tears. In 1963, a Viennese police inspector, Karl Silberbauer, was identified as the Gestapo sergeant who arrested the Franks. He protested that he had merely followed orders. He was suspended but later acquitted of the charge of hiding his past.

It was suspected that an employee at the warehouse was the Frank’s betrayer. Not clear if somebody was actually “caught,” but the payment was 5 gulden (about $1.40) per person taken from the “Secret Annexe.”

Anne had a wish, “I want to go on living even after my death.” Her wish has come true.

As for myself, two days ago I awoke thinking about that girl, that young child writing in her diary, giving her thoughts to the world that so needs them. I truly believe she is in Heaven now entertaining the angels, endlessly, with her wit, her charm, and her chattering.

****

Wondering about my own personal feelings toward this girl, I—at the very end—looked up her birthday, June 12, 1929, to see she was a Gemini, a nearly perfect match for me, a Libra. If I will be so fortunate to go to Heaven someday, maybe I will get to meet her.