*This is part of a blog series I’m currently running, in looking to history for my heroes.
I was six, maybe seven, when I first heard about the story of Anne Frank. As a child, we’d been taught about World War Two-and how, rather than just the mechanics, we’d been taught about the personal and social impact, such as with the Home Guard. Anne was a mention-maybe with two, three sentences dedicated to her. To me, that was clearly not enough! I had to find out far more about this girl.
Anne was originally born in Frankfurt Au Main, but soon came to Holland. With the invasion of the Netherlands, and the call up notices for sixteen year olds, the family went into hiding-soon to be joined by four other people-but were captured and deported.
Initially, Anne’s Diary was written for herself, and only herself; it compromised more volumes than just the red and white checked version, and was not singularly ‘Kitty’ at first. As a teenager with her freedom curtailed, she began to write-emphasised more by a radio broadcast that called for the preservation of letters and diaries. She began to revise the diary, in aiming to publish a book after the war.
In reading the diary-because there is more than just one version-I was struck by just how convential Anne was. As a teen, I heavily identified with her-through the good times, the bad times, etc. It also created a stark juxtaposition; in occupied Holland, life still had to go on. Yet that all began to change.
Anne is one of my historical heroes; in subscribing to the belief that history can be repeated if lessons are not learnt, I think the case is still the same. We haven’t, quite simply-just look at the news. And for somebody who was fifteen when forced to stop writing, she has more dignity than I can ever hope to gain-Anne pledges tolerance, yet flies into a rage about her mother, and talks of Peter Van Pels. We could just be kind as well as tolerant to everyone around us; wouldn’t it be a nicer world?