Our woman hero of June is Anne Frank! Annelies Marie Frank, who was known as Anne Frank, was born on 12 June 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. She was known with the publication of The Diary of a Young Girl (originally Het Achterhuis in Dutch; English: The Secret Annex), in which she documented her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. It is one of the world’s most widely known books and has been the basis for several plays and films.
Anne Frank, her parents, and her older sister Margot, were liberal Jews, and did not observe all of the customs and traditions of Judaism. In February 1934, Anne and her family moved to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. They were among 300,000 Jews who fled Germany between 1933 and 1939, after Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party won the federal election in 1933.
In May 1940 Germany invaded the Netherlands. Anne’s father tried to arrange for the family to emigrate to the United States, but did not succeed. So on the morning of 6 July 1942, when Anne was thirteen years old, she and her family went into hiding in a three-story space entered from a landing above the Opekta offices on the Prinsengracht. Opekta was one of the companies that was started by Anne’s father. Some of Anne’s father most trusted employees were their helpers during hiding. This hiding place became known as the Achterhuis (translated as “Secret Annex” in English editions of the diary). The door to the Achterhuis was later covered by a bookcase to ensure it remained undiscovered.
During hiding, Anne wrote extensively on her diary. She wrote about a narrative of events as they occurred, her examination on her relationship with the members of her family, her feelings, beliefs, and ambitions. She also wrote the many restrictions placed upon the lives of the Dutch Jewish population, her belief in God, and how she defined human nature. Anne later edited her diary following her reading and studying during hiding.
On the morning of 4 August 1944, the Achterhuis was stormed by a group of German uniformed police (Grüne Polizei) and Anne and her family were arrested. And following the arrest, they were transported to concentration camps. In October or November 1944, Anne and her sister, Margot, were transferred from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died (probably of typhus) a few months later. Anne’s father, the only survivor of the family, returned to Amsterdam after the war to find that Anne’s diary had been saved by one of the helpers, Miep Gies, and his efforts led to its publication in 1947. It was translated from its original Dutch version and first published in English in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl, and has since been translated into over 60 languages.
The diary has been praised for its literary merits. It was an accurate and well-written record of Anne’s time in hiding. In her introduction to the diary’s first American edition, Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady of the United States from March 1933 to April 1945, described it as “one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read.” John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until November 1963, discussed Anne Frank in a 1961 speech, and said, “Of all the multitudes who throughout history have spoken for human dignity in times of great suffering and loss, no voice is more compelling than that of Anne Frank.” In the same year, a Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenburg wrote of her: “one voice speaks for six million—the voice not of a sage or a poet but of an ordinary little girl.” In Japan, Anne Frank quickly was identified as an important cultural figure who represented the destruction of youth during the war.
Anne Frank inspired us that whatever our age is, we can be very good as something if we put all of our efforts into it. Anne also inspired us that during times of hardships, and even war, a person can still rise above all those hardships and in turn inspire others to do so.
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