Anne Frank was born June 12, 1929, 84 years ago today. During her short 15 years, she kept a diary and wrote there sorting out her emotions, describing her crushes and despair, her desires and dreams. She kept the diary from 1942 to '44, the two years that her German-Jewish family lived in hiding in Amsterdam during World War II.
"When I write, I can shake off all my cares," she wrote in April 1944.
A few short months later, in August 1944, Anne, her family and the others who were in hiding with them were discovered by Nazi authorities. They were shipped to Nazi concentration camps; Anne died in Bergen-Belsen just weeks before it was liberated.
Her father Otto was the only one of the group to survive. He retrieved his daughter's diary and had it published as a book in 1947. Since that time, Anne Frank's words have formed an enduring portrait of resilience and hope, and of deep humanity. The book has sold more than 30 million copies.
In "Anne Frank: The Biography," author Melissa Muller writes, "On the same day that Otto Frank learned of his daughters' deaths, Miep Gies gave him Anne's red-and-light-green checkered diary, her notebooks, and 327 loose sheets of onionskin paper." In August 1945, Otto wrote, "I had it in my hands but couldn't read it yet."
Anne was one of more than six million Jews who perished during World War II at the hands of the Nazis.
In May of 1944 she wrote, "I don't believe that the big men, that the politicians and the capitalists alone are responsible for the war, oh no, the little man is just as guilty, otherwise the peoples of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There's in people simply an urge to destroy, an urge to kill, to murder and rage, and until all mankind without exception, undergoes a great change wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown will be cut down and disfigured, to begin all over again after that!"
And yet Anne Frank and her family survived two years hidden in an Amsterdam office building only with the aid of four helpers who brought them food and news of the outside world. One of them, Miep Gies, entered the secret space after the family had been taken away and picked up Anne's papers and small diary, planning to return them to the girl some day. She never got the chance.
Anne's diary was published first in Dutch, then in German and French. The first American edition, "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl," was published in 1952. Her story has been made into a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and an Oscar-winning film; an institute honors her legacy; her hiding place has been preserved as a museum.
On June 15, 1944, about six weeks before her family was found out, Anne Frank wrote, "It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”