The second most popular book in the world after the Bible is The Diary of Anne Frank. Her writings, though, weren’t published until eight years after the diary was found in the secret hiding place by Miep Gies, a loyal friend to Otto Frank (her father) and the others who hid in the upper room of the Amsterdam office building for 25 months.
Anne had received the red plaid diary for her 13th birthday on June 12, 1942. Just 28 days later, the family went into hiding on July 9, 1942, and Anne wrote faithfully until her final entry on August 1, 1944, three days before Nazi raiders discovered the eight Jews who almost succeeded in defying Hitler, saving themselves, and avoiding the fate of millions of other Jews.
Her diary shows remarkable growth:
Anne the Child: “I don’t think Father has a very nice business. Nothing but pectin and pepper. As long as you’re in the food business, why not make candy?” (March 4, 1943)
Anne the Teenager: “I went downstairs at quarter to eleven. When I went back up at eleven-thirty, Peter was already waiting for me on the stairs. We talked until quarter to one. Whenever I leave the room, for example after a meal, and Peter has a chance and no one else can hear, he says, ‘Bye, Anne, see you later.’” (March 4, 1944)
Anne the Adult: “It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. 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.” (July 15, 1944)
Is it any wonder that this book is so popular? The insights apply universally. What a blessing that Anne’s desire and inner calling to be a writer has survived for us.
[Sr. Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati Ohio.]