One of the twentieth century’s most widely read, influential writers was a German-born Jewish teenager who did not live to see her work published. She left her diary and notebooks filled with wisdom and awareness beyond her young age.
Her experience during World War 2
Annelies Marie Frank, a.k.a. Anne Frank, was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1929. She died in a German concentration camp in 1945 at only 15 years old.
Anne and her family remained hidden in a secret attic apartment in Amsterdam for over two years. Her father, Otto Frank, owned the building before the Germans made him give up his company. The Nazis discovered the family and sent them to the Auschwitz concentration camp. 1.1 of the 1.3 million Jews sent to the camp were murdered. Amazingly, Otto survived the horrors of Auschwitz and was released when the war ended.
Today, more than a million people visit the family’s hiding place yearly. It is now called the Anne Frank House. She referred to it in her writing as the Secret Annex.
Anne’s father, Otto, found her diary after the war and fulfilled her dream of being a writer by publishing her diary in 1947, two years after the war ended. The book was originally titled Achterhuis(The Back House). The title changed to The Diary of a Young Girl for the English translation. It has since been translated into 70 languages, passing 30 million copies in sales in 2015.
Anne was mature for her age, with profound insights for such a young lady. Despite the difficulties she and her family faced during the war, her writing is inspiring and hopeful.
In her own words
Anne Frank’s wisdom is astonishing and seemingly boundless. Of the many areas of life she wrote about, I have chosen a few that jumped out at me while reading her writing. She has so much quotable material this article could easily go on for dozens of pages, so I have only included some of my favorite, most succinct, meaningful words here. Let’s now look at a small sample of her wisdom.
On Being Young
- Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. Not only because I’ve never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. I feel like writing.
- The young are not afraid of telling the truth.
- Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.
- Those who have courage and faith shall never perish in misery.
- I can’t imagine how anyone can say: ‘I’m weak,’ and then remain so. After all, if you know it, why not fight against it, why not try to train your character?
- Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.
- How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.
- I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.
- As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?
Happiness and Beauty
- Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.
- Whoever is happy will make others happy.
- I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.
- Sympathy, love, fortune… We all have these qualities but still tend to not use them!
- 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!
- Whoever doesn’t know it must learn and find by experience that a quiet conscience makes one strong!
- What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.
- Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.
- I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death… I think… peace and tranquillity will return again.
- I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you. Look at these things, then you find yourself again, and God, and then you regain your balance.
- The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.
Anne Frank has amazed many with her ability to think deeply at such a young age. Perhaps the difficult times of hiding in the midst of a world war and the persecution of the Jews enhanced her deep thoughts and wisdom.
If you are facing difficulties in life, why not go back and read some of Anne Frank’s profound insights? In them, you will find the courage and inspiration needed to move forward in life with thankfulness.