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Diary of a Young Girl

Anne had spent 761 days in hiding. Hidden from view by a simple hinged bookcase, the hiding place seemed very clever and yet incredibly vulnerable.
Bungle, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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Anne had spent 761 days in hiding. Hidden from view by a simple hinged bookcase, the hiding place seemed very clever and yet incredibly vulnerable.

Hello Radio Readers; this is Conny Bogaard from Garden City, with a Book Byte for High Plains Public Radio. Anne Frank’s diary is said to be one of the most read, most important and most inspiring books in the world. Known as The Diary of a Young Girl, it tells the true story of Jewish people living in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II.

Hello Radio Readers; this is Conny Bogaard from Garden City, with a Book Byte for High Plains Public Radio. Anne Frank’s diary is said to be one of the most read, most important and most inspiring books in the world. Known as The Diary of a Young Girl, it tells the true story of Jewish people living in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II. The book was first published in Dutch shortly after the war. Since then it has been translated into more than 70 languages. Today, 75 years after its first publication, Anne’s story is taught in schools, and features in theater plays, documentaries and films, while more than a million people from around the world visit the Anne Frank House Museum each year.

Growing up in the Netherlands, I was familiar with the story at a young age. As an adult I lived in a canal house in Amsterdam within walking distance from the Anne Frank Museum. In fact, my apartment was similarly located in the back of a 17th century canal house, or ‘annex’ – originally built as a storage space for merchandise. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I first visited the museum where Anne had spent 761 days in hiding. Hidden from view by a simple hinged bookcase, the hiding place seemed very clever and yet incredibly vulnerable. Entering this space is more than stepping back in time. It is a deeply immersive experience that changes your perspective of the world we live in. You become more aware of the mechanisms of prejudice, exclusion, and discrimination. After all, parts of this history still echo in today's news: racist chanting, closing borders, discussions about 'fortune seekers', and so on.

It is hard to believe that this book of nonfiction was written by a teenage girl, an aspiring writer with a remarkable talent for conveying her inner thoughts and feelings. Anne Frank’s legacy is more than a diary, however. She also wrote tales and planned to publish a book about her time in the Secret Annex, a wish her father fulfilled. One cannot help but wondering what more she could have produced if she had not died in a concentration camp at the age of 15.

There is something about rereading an old favorite, and discovering it anew. When I reached for my Dutch copy of the book about a month ago, the war in Ukraine was raging and much to my own surprise, reading Anne’s story served as an antidote for the depressing daily newsfeed. The power of Anne Frank’s writing lies in her extraordinary gift to infuse a broken world with warmth and humanity. Writing meant a great deal to Anne. It was her way to vent, and create order out of chaos. She also knew the importance of humor as a coping mechanism for not losing your wits in difficult situations. But most importantly, Anne shares with us her relentless hope for a better future.

On July 15th, 1944 – less than 3 weeks before the Nazis discovered the hiding place - Anne writes: “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, will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I’ll be able to realize them.”

Next time you feel the daily news is weighing you down, read The Diary of a Young Girl and perhaps the world appears a little brighter.

Thanks for listening. This is Conny Bogaard for HPPR Readers Book Club.

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