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She would have been 90 this week

Yesterday, June 12, 2019, would have been Anne Frank’s 90th birthday. With lifespans increasing as they are, it’s very possible that had Anne Frank’s life not been brutally cut short by the Holocaust, she would still be living today.

Anne Frank Diary Cover

The diary Anne Frank received on her 13th birthday (Anne Frank Fonds)

Seventy-seven years ago yesterday, on June 12, 1942, Anne Frank received a birthday gift. It was a soft, gingham covered diary, in which she began recording her thoughts almost immediately. It’s highly unlikely that Anne ever considered that these personal writings would have the universal resonance they have, but it’s very likely she would have wanted them to. As part of her reflections on teenage life, Anne writes about her professional aspirations. She wants to be a writer, specifically a journalist.

In a case of the most tragic of ironies, despite being one of the one-and-a-half million children killed in the Holocaust, Anne Frank’s dream did become reality. She became a published writer, and one of the most widely respected ones at that. In a way her diary represents not only her voice, but also those of the other one-and-a-half million other children whose dreams and aspirations died with them in the Holocaust.

Facsimile Anne Frank Diary

Facsimile of the Anne Frank’s diary on display at Anne Frank Zentrum in Berlin, Germany.
(Rodrigo Galindez)

Here is a selection of passages from Anne’s diary, words of wisdom, words of reflection, words of optimism. That she wrote these while living in a claustrophobic, confined space for two years, in mortal fear for her life, make them all that more powerful.

Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.
Whoever is happy will make others happy too.
Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.
As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?
I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.

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