Stolen Lives of the Innocent

Heather Sandefur

Annelies Marie Frank was born June 12, 1929. Her name is more widely known as Anne Frank. We all know how she hide for two years in the Secret Annex at Prisengracht 263 in Amsterdam; how she and the seven others with her were found and deported to Auschwitz on Aug. 4, 1944; how she and Margot, her sister, were sent to Bergen-Belsen and later died there of typhus. However, Anne Frank is most well-known for posthumously becoming the writer she aspired to be.

Frank received the diary for her birthday shortly before going into hiding on July 5, 1942. She kept her diary the entirety of the two years in the annex. Per the Dutch Minister of Education’s appeal via British radio, Frank even began to re-write her diary as a novel with the working title The Secret Annex. Sadly, we know she never complete this task. However, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl saved the diary and gave it to Otto Frank, Anne’s father and only survivor of the Frank family, after the war.

It was a fight to publish: first in trying to convince Otto, second in convincing publishers to take it up. The turning point in the fight was Jan Rome’s article in Het Parool on April 3, 1946. He wrote, “To me . . . this apparently inconsequential diary . . . stammered out in a child’s voice, embodies all the hideousness of fascism, more so than all the evidence at Nuremburg put together.” After editing some content, Anne Frank’s diary was published in an amount of 3,000 on June 25, 1947, as The Secret Annex. Diary Letters from June 14, 1942 to August 1, 1944 (Het Achterhuis. Dagbrieven van 14 juni 1942 tot 1 augustus 1944). As Otto Frank said, “if she had been here, Anne would’ve been so proud.”

And she would have been. Since its initial publication, the diary has sold over 35 million copies (15 million of which were sold between 2002 and 2015). Schools now teach her story when studying the Holocaust. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, it’s “[o]ne of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I’ve ever read.” Although, this fame has misconstrued the true power of the diary.

After Anne and Margot were sent to Bergen-Belson, they lived with the daily occupation of hauling heavy stones and grass mats, in over-crowded barracks, and amid raging epidemics. Through various eyewitness reports, the Frank sisters began showing signs of typhus around Feb. 7 1945. Typhus, when fatal, kills around 12 days after the first appearance of symptoms. While

official documents place their death on March 31, 1945, it is unlikely they survived that long (especially in their weakened states).

Anne and Margot Frank simply vanished. Their deaths were mixed in with so many others. As Erika Prins and Gertjan Broek aptly titles their work, “One day they simply weren’t there anymore. . .”. This is the sad and moving beauty of the diary. Simon Wiesenthal said, “Anne Frank became a symbol of the million murdered children . . .”. Let us never forget that. Let us not idolize one girl now that the years have passed. Let us remember what the diary symbolizes and keep its goals alive; remember the innocents who have had their lives stolen by a corrupt government and fight to protect those yet untouched.