Happy Belated Birthday, Anne!

In honor of an amazing girl, and the fact that her words have brought insight and understanding to millions of people worldwide, I post about Anne Frank on or near her birthday each year. Anne’s words provided companionship and comfort for her and awareness and compassion to others. I truly believe journaling and reading change lives, and will be sharing more about them in the weeks ahead, but for now, here is my annual post in honor of Anne Frank. (Please check out the new video links I’ve added of Anne’s father and the woman who helped hide the family.)

Anne Frank’s birthday was June 12. Like many teenage girls, Anne was wonderfully caring and compassionate, and was trying to deal with the confusing and conflicting feelings of youth. The setting in which she recorded her thoughts makes them all the more poignant and profound.

Anne was born in 1929 in Frankfort, Germany. Her family emigrated to the Amsterdam in 1933, where they later became an important part of world history. On her 13th birthday, Anne received a diary from her father, and what she choose to write changed the world.

Had she lived, Anne would be 84 this year. If circumstances had been dramatically different, Anne might still be with us, enjoying life, visiting family and friends, traveling, and maybe writing and lecturing. In today’s world, she would not seem that old. Her very short life – she died at 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as the result of simply being Jewish – was not lived that long ago. The style of her red and white plaid diary is not really out-of-date, and thankfully, because of the words she placed on the pages of that journal, Anne and her story are still with us.

Anne’s youthful, simple, heartfelt thoughts have touched millions of people. Words can do that – the spoken ones, for better or for worst, the written ones for generations to see. They help the writers and the readers understand their lives, explore their thoughts, the situations surrounding them, and the world.

I think the value of words, including those of children, can never be underestimated.

Perhaps this year, you can buy a journal for your daughter, son, niece, nephew, granddaughter, grandson, or the kid next door. Let them know you value who they are and what they have to say. And, maybe you can tell them about Anne, and the gift her father gave her. The process of writing may change their lives and the generations that follow them.

If you would like to learn more about Anne, I’ve listed some interesting links you might enjoy:

The only film of Anne.

Miep Gies, Mr. Frank’s office assistant and one of the brave people, who helped hide Anne’s family, died in January 2010. She was 100. I really did not know much about Ms. Gies, this article and these videos, share more about her. (For an English translation of the videos: hit the “CC” button at the bottom of the video screen, and select the captions in English.)

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl was first published in Amsterdam in 1947, and in America in 1952. By the early 1960’s the book was part of school curriculums throughout the U.S. There’s much more about Anne at the Anne Frank Foundation.

Happy Belated Birthday, Anne, and thank you. Because of your words our world is richer, and I hope wiser.

And, Happy Father’s Day to your father Otto Frank, who transcribed and shared your dairy, and then spent the rest of his life working for human rights, unity, and peace and answering the letters of people, who read your diary. Anne’s father, was the only member of his family, who survived the concentration camps. Otto Frank passed away on August 19, 1980. This video gives great insight into his life, and in this 1967 television interview Mr. Frank shares how he felt reading Anne’s diary and an important message for all parents. 

“Deep thoughts . . seriousness, especially her self-criticisms . . . It was quite a different Anna, than I had known as my daughter.  . . and, my conclusion is, as I had been in very, very good terms with Anne, most parents don’t know really their children . . .” Otto Frank

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