The final entry in Anne Frank’s diary is dated August 1, 1944 – the same year she decided to rewrite her diary in the form of a novel, which she intended to publish after the war.
Three days later, she was taken by the Gestapo, imprisoned, and later sent to Auschwitz. Her father Otto Frank’s business partner had informed the Nazis of the family’s whereabouts, and they were taken by surprise when their secret annex was suddenly invaded by the Gestapo.
The entrance to the secret rooms was behind this bookcase:
Their living quarters were cramped, but still full of life, love, and hope:
Anne would sit at the desk to write in her journal or stare at the photos of movie stars on the wall and dream of one day being free again.
But, as we know all too well, that day would never come. The Gestapo ultimately crushed those dreams (to say the very least) when they performed a raid that was led by this man, Karl Silberbauer:
The entire family was taken to prisons and detention centers, bouncing around until they were finally placed in Auschwitz on September 6, 1944.
There, Otto was separated from his wife and children – who assumed he was dead, as many of the prisoners were sent straight to the gas chambers upon arrival. He ended up being the only member of the Frank family to survive.
Knowing her mother had died of starvation and assuming her father to be dead as well, Anne told other prisoners that she no longer wished to live.
She and her sister Margot had been transferred to Bergen-Belsen, which was plagued with a typhus epidemic that killed 17,000 people. While the true cause of Anne’s death is unknown, it was likely due to one of the many diseases that were rampant about the camp. The dates of her death were unrecorded, but she succumbed a few days after Margot, who had, in weakness, fallen from her bunk and died of shock.
The camp was liberated less than two months after their deaths.
Just six months prior, Anne was still a precocious, optimistic young woman of 15, who wrote down her deepest secrets and inner-most thoughts in her diary.
Tuesday, 1 August, 1944:
“A bundle of contradictions” was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly what “a bundle of contradictions” is? What does “contradiction” mean? Like so many words, it can be interpreted in two ways: a contradiction imposed from without and one imposed from within.
The former means not accepting other people’s opinions, always knowing best, having the last word; in short, all those unpleasant traits for which I’m known. The latter, for which I’m not known, is my own secret.
As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. No one knows Anne’s better side, and that’s why most people can’t stand me….
Oh, I can be an amusing clown for an afternoon, but after that everyone’s had enough of me to last a month. Actually, I’m what a romantic movie is to a profound thinker – a mere diversion, a comic interlude, something that is soon forgotten: not bad, but not particularly good either.
I hate having to tell you this, but why shouldn’t I admit it when I know it’s true? My lighter, more superficial side will always steal a march on the deeper side and therefore always win. You can’t imagine how often I’ve tried to push away this Anne, which is only half of what is known as Anne-to beat her down, hide her. But it doesn’t work, and I know why.
I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I’m used to not being taken seriously, but only the “light-hearted” Anne is used to it and can put up with it; the “deeper” Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment she’s called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking. Before I realize it, she’s disappeared.
So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She’s never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I’m alone. I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am… on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself. And perhaps that’s why-no, I’m sure that’s the reason why I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I’m happy on the outside. I’m guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I’m nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.
As I’ve told you, what I say is not what I feel, which is why I have a reputation for being boy-crazy as well as a flirt, a smart aleck and a reader of romances. The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn’t give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll have to admit that it does matter to me, that I’m trying very hard to change myself, but that I I’m always up against a more powerful enemy.
A voice within me is sobbing, “You see, that’s what’s become of you. You’re surrounded by negative opinions, dismayed looks and mocking faces, people, who dislike you, and all because you don’t listen to the advice of your own better half.”
Believe me, I’d like to listen, but it doesn’t work, because if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I’m not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be sick, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can’t keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside g out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if… if only there were no other people in the world.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
There is one existing video of Anne Frank, taken before she went into hiding. She’s watching from a window as a bride and groom pass by on the street below.
The heartbreaking image of someone who was so courageous and optimistic during one of the most disgraceful times in our history becoming so despondent and meeting the end of her life in a despicable cesspool of hatred is always going to stick with me, and I will gladly carry that weight. Yet I remind myself, and you (though I likely don’t need to), how fortunate we are to have her words in our lives.
I will forever owe an endless debt of gratitude to Anne for being a voice of hope that we can all cling to when we are in turmoil.