Thursday, July 14, 2011

Anne Frank

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Anne Frank

The struggles that a person pursues makes for a strong character. A unique perspective of a young girl’s struggles is chronicled in Anne Frank’s 'The Diary of a Young Girl'. It is a compelling example of a young Jewish girl maturing rapidly in the two years between the ages of 10 and 15 while hiding from the Nazis during World War II. These are the two years in which change is so swift and difficult for every young girl. Her numbness to the atrocities of war, her despair at her own situation and her hope and belief in the human spirit in the face of the horrors of war and Nazi persecution make Anne Frank’s character stronger.

Anne develops and shows an apparent numbness to the accounts of atrocities committed by the Nazis. She relates a news account of what happens to Nazi resistors in a matter-of-fact manner. Anne writes, “Have you ever heard the term ‘hostages’? Leading citizens, innocent people, are taken prisoner to await their execution. If the Gestapo can’t find the saboteur, they simply grab five hostages and line them up against the wall. You read the announcements in the paper of their deaths being Fatal accidents.” The manner in which Anne relates this account shows a kind of acceptance of what is happening. It does not seem to horrify her or outrage her.

Living in the Annexe has had a soothing effect on Anne. She retreats to her “world” and sees the war outside the Annexe as distant. In her diary Anne writes, “ And every night hundreds of planes fly over Holland and go to German towns, where the earth is ploughed up by their bombs…It is quiet and safe here…wait as calmly as we can till the misery comes to an end.” This entry shows Anne’s acceptance of the situation she is in. She sees and hears about what is happening to the Jews but feels separated, unaffected by it. She has become insulated in the Annexe, separated from the war.

As time passes, Anne becomes used to the sights and sounds of war. Anne writes, “Before a quarter of an hour had passed the shooting started up again. Mrs. Van Daan sat bolt upright at once and then went downstairs to Mr. Dussel’s room, seeking there the rest which she could not find with her spouse. Dussel received her with the words ‘come into my bed, my child!’ which sent us off into uncontrollable laughter. The gunfire bothered us no longer, our fear was banished.” This shows Anne’s acceptance of the sounds of war. Unable to do anything about it, unable to escape it, it becomes a part of daily life.

Although Anne tries to see something positive in most situations and remain optimistic, she at times falls into great depths of despair and she becomes angry or deeply saddened.

On the subject of her heritage, after hearing how the Germans are treating the Jewish population of Germany through BBC broadcasts, Anne becomes very angry and hurt because she too is German. She writes, “Fine specimens of humanity, those Germans, and to think that I’m actually one of them!” The indignation in Anne’s writing is evident. She is angry with those Germans who started and supported this war. Her despair is brought on by the betrayal she feels at the hands of her own countrymen.

Anne is frustrated at not being in control of the situation she finds herself in. Her despair is heightened by the fact she feels helpless to do anything. Anne writes, “I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway. I’ll just let matters take their course…” This shows that Anne feels that she cannot affect any change to what is going on around her. Her feelings of helplessness and resolve to accept whatever will happen show her despair.

When news that there does not seem to be a quick end to the war, Anne’s despair over her life and her situation come to the forefront, even though she tries to be courageous and not show it in front of the others. In her diary Anne writes, “…but the minute I was alone I knew I was going to cry my eyes out. I slid to the floor in my nightgown and began by saying my prayers, very fervently. Then I drew my knees to my chest, lay my head on my arms and cried, huddles up on the bare floor. A loud sob brought me back down to earth…” This shows Anne’s struggles with her emotions. She feels frustrated and angry and helpless, yet she puts on a brave face in front of the others and lets her feelings come out only when she is alone.

Throughout her time hiding in the Annexe, Anne never lets go of her belief in the strength of the human spirit.

Anne believes that there is good in everyone. She writes’ “It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Faith in the goodness of the person and the spirit has not been lost. Anne still believes that people are good at the core even though sometimes they act oppositely.

Anne holds out hope that people will do the right thing when she hears news of an attempt on Hitler’s life. She writes, “Now I am getting really hopeful, now things are going well at last. Yes, really, they’re going well! Super news! An attempt has been made on Hitler’s life and not even by Jewish communists or English capitalists this time, but by a proud German general…and it certainly shows that there are lots of officers and generals who are sick of the war and would like to see Hitler descend into a bottomless pit.” This reinforces Anne’s belief that people are good  deep down, and want to do what is right.

Anne has hope for the future. She writes, “It is utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death…I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.” Despite all, Anne sees and feels that things will change. She truly believes that there is hope for a better future.


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