“Will I ever be able to write something great?”

Anne Frank at school in 1940 (Photo Credit: Wikimedia)

“For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later neither I, nor anyone else, will care for the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl.” June 20, 1942

On June 12, 1942, a Jewish schoolgirl received a diary for her thirteenth birthday. A decade earlier — after Hitler came to power — Anne Frank’s family had fled Germany for the Netherlands. Four weeks before her birthday, their adopted country surrendered to the Wehrmacht. That July, rather than report to a Nazi work camp, the Franks and a few friends hid in secret apartments above her father’s workplace for more than two years — surreptitiously fed and supplied by his Dutch business partners.

“Our many Jewish friends and acquaintances are being taken away in droves. The Gestapo is treating them very roughly and transporting them in cattle cars to Westerbork…. We assume that most of them are being murdered. The English radio says they’re being gassed.” October 9, 1942

“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 and concentrate on studying and hope that everything will be all right in the end.” February 3, 1944

“How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now gradually to change the world… everyone, great and small, can immediately help bring about justice by giving of themselves!… You can always — always — give something, even if it’s a simple act of kindness!” March 26, 1944

On holiday at the beach before the war (Photo Credit: NSB)

“I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist…. I know I can write…, but it remains to be seen whether I really have talent…. And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine living like Mother… and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to!… I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me! When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?” April 5, 1944

“Be brave! Let’s remember our duty and perform it without complaint. There will be a way out. God has never deserted our people. Through the ages Jews have had to suffer, but through the ages they’ve gone on living, and the centuries of suffering have only made them stronger. The weak shall fall and the strong shall survive and not be defeated!” April 11, 1944

“I don’t believe that the big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone are guilty of the war. Oh, no, the little man is just as keen, otherwise the people of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There is an urge and rage in people to destroy, to kill, to murder, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.” May 3, 1944

“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you. Look at these things, then you find yourself again, and God, and then you regain your balance. A person who’s happy will make others happy; a person who has courage and faith will never die in misery!” May 7, 1944

(Photo Credit: MF, via AF)

“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. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.” July 15, 1944

The Nazis found and arrested the Franks that August, but a Dutch friend found and saved the diary. Anne died in Auschwitz the following year. Her father, Otto Frank — the sole surviving member of her family — submitted her work for publication, ensuring that her words would go on living.

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