“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”―Anne Frank
For many of us a journal is a means towards a better mood, a better organized and freer mind. It could be the place where our desires, fears and most hidden thoughts unravel. Also it can be the place for all the words that don’t get to be vocalized and heard by surrounding human beings. In general I think most journals/diaries remain hidden to other eyes except for the writer’s. I didn’t give my journal/diary to anyone to read. Have you?
Nevertheless, there is at least one journal that was no way that it could remain hidden given the circumstances that it was written in. I’m talking about “The Diary of a Young Girl” written by Anne Frank. She was just a teenager when the Nazis took over The Netherlands, where they were living, and her family, being Jewish, was forced to go into hiding for reasons you know well about. She started writing about her life before she and her family had to hide in the house where her father’s firm was, which is where she continued writing for a couple of years. The entries in the journal end on 1st of August 1944 just a few days before they were arrested and then deported with the last train that went into Auschwitz. It is believed that Anne and her sister Margo died in the spring of 1945 at Bergen-Belsen. Her father was the only one who survived the horrible experience. So he was the one who took care that her journal was published and known by the world.
In terms of how Anne expresses herself and what she writes about, is mostly what you would expect from a teenager who is moody and slightly innocent, begins experiencing new things, argues with her mom or complains about her older sister. But also she is very aware of her feelings and has a high degree of self-criticism for a 14 year old teenager. Being an avid reader and keen to learning new things, she is also very wise at times and gradually the journal reveals a more mature and analytical Anne. Given the conditions under which she lived for two years she begins to think back on her life and really appreciate the little things like a good meal, gazing at the sky, being able to walk freely on the streets with her friends. Throughout the diary she remains quite optimistic about her life and her future, avoiding to write very much about the war that goes on just outside her window or about all the horror that could happen to her and her family if they were to be caught.
Just reading and imagining the life she describes can make you emotional, but also knowing that is a true story that you read first hand and not through someone else’s mind filter makes it a great experience. Sometimes you might get chills and other times she makes you smiles and contemplate about your own life. Although she and her family lived in the midst of a world war and with fear that they could be caught in hiding every day, she paints a picture with her words that at times feels very contradictory to the times she is living in. For her there is still hope and beauty in the world despite everything that is happening and for us there are great lessons to be learned from reading her, at times, magical words.