This week I’m sharing quotes from Anne Frank’s diary. Most people are familiar with the struggles she faced with the other inhabitants of the secret annex, so I will focus, instead, on other thoughts from her diary. Today we’ll see what she thought about the outside world.
Father, Mother and Margot still can’t get used to the chiming of the Westertoren clock, which tells us the time very quarter of an hour. Not me, I liked it from the start; it sounds so reassuring, especially at night. –July 11, 1942
Mr. Dussel has told us much about the outside world we’ve missed for so long. He had sad news. Countless friends and acquaintances have been taken off to a dreadful fate. Night after night, green and gray military vehicles cruise the streets. They knock on every door, asking whether any Jews live there. If so, the whole family is immediately taken away. If not, they proceed to the next house. It’s impossible to escape their clutches unless you go into hiding…In the evenings when it’s dark, I often see long lines of good, innocent people, accompanied by crying children, walking on and on, ordered about by a handful of men who bully and beat them until they nearly drop. No one is spared. The sick, the elderly, children, babies and pregnant women–all are marched to their death. We’re so fortunate here, away from the turmoil. We wouldn’t have to give a moment’s thought to all this suffering if it weren’t for the fact that we’re so worried about those we hold dear, whom we can no longer help. I feel wicked sleeping in a warm bed, while somewhere out there my dearest friends are dropping from exhaustion or being knocked to the ground. –November 19, 1942
The children in this neighborhood run around in thin shirts and wooden shoes. They have no coats, no socks, no caps and no one to help them. Gnawing on a carrot to still their hunger pangs, they walk from their cold houses through cold streets to an even colder classroom. Things have gotten so bad in Holland that hordes of children stop passersby in the streets to beg for a piece of bread. I could spend hours telling you about the suffering the war has brought, but I’d only make myself more miserable. All we can do is wait, as calmly as possible, for it to end. Jews and Christians alike are waiting, the whole world is waiting and many are waiting for death. –January 13, 1943
We’ve all been a little confused this past week because our dearly beloved Westertoren bells have been carted off to be melted down for the war, so we have no idea of the exact time, either night or day. I still have hopes that they’ll come up with a substitute, made of tin or copper or some such thing, to remind the neighborhood of the clock. –August 10, 1943
[Note: On the Anne Frank website, there’s an interesting photo of the bells being taken out by barge on the canal click here.]
Going underground or into hiding has become as routine as the proverbial pipe and slippers that used to await the man of the house after a long day at work. There are many resistance groups, such as Free Netherlands, that forge identity cards, provide financial support to those in hiding, organize hiding places and find work for young Christians who go underground. It’s amazing how much these generous and unselfish people do, risking their own lives to help and save ours.
The best example of this is our own helpers, who have managed to pull us through so far and will hopefully bring us safely to shore, because otherwise they’ll find themselves sharing the fate of those they’re trying to protect. Never have they uttered a single word about the burden we must be, never have they complained that we’re too much trouble. They come upstairs every day and talk to the men about business and politics, to the women about food and wartime difficulties and to the children about books and newspapers. They put on their most cheerful expressions, always ready to do what they can. That’s something we should never forget; while others display their heroism in battle or against the Germans, our helpers prove theirs every day by their good spirits and affection. –January 28, 1944
A huge commotion in the Annex! Is this really the beginning of the long-awaited liberation? The liberation we’ve all talked so much about, which still seems too good, too much of a fairy tale ever to come true! Will this year, 1944, bring us victory? We don’t know yet. But where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again. We’ll need to be brave to endure the many fears and hardships and the suffering yet to come. It’s now a matter of remaining calm and steadfast, of gritting our teeth and keeping a stiff upper lip! France, Russia, Italy, and even Germany, can cry out in agony, but we don’t yet have that right! Oh, Kitty, the best part about the invasion is that I have the feeling that friends are on the way. Those terrible Germans have oppressed and threatened us for so long that the thought of friends and salvation means everything to us! Now it’s not just the Jews, but Holland and all of occupied Europe. Maybe, Margot says, I can even go back to school in September or October. –June 6, 1944
Is it because I haven’t been outdoors for so long that I’ve become so smitten with nature? I remember a time when a magnificent blue sky, chirping birds, moonlight and budding blossoms wouldn’t have captivated me. Things have changed since I came here. One night during the Pentecost holiday, for instance, when it was so hot, I struggled to keep my eyes open until eleven-thirty so I could get a good look at the moon, all on my own for once. Alas, my sacrifice was in vain, since there was too much glare and I couldn’t risk opening a window. Another time, several months ago, I happened to be upstairs one night when the window was open. I didn’t go back down until it had to be closed again. The dark, rainy evening, the wind, the racing clouds, had me spellbound; it was the first time in a year and a half that I’d seen the night face-t0-face. After that evening my longing to see it again was even greater than my fear of burglars, a dark rat-infested house or police raids. I went downstairs all by myself and looked out the windows in the kitchen and private office. Many people think nature is beautiful, many people sleep from time to time under the starry sky, and many people in hospitals and prisons long for the day when they’ll be free to enjoy what nature has to offer. But few are as isolated and cut off as we are from the joys of nature, which can be shared by rich and poor alike. It’s not just my imagination–looking at the sky, the clouds, the moon and the stars really does make me feel calm and hopeful. It’s much better medicine than valerian or bromide. Nature makes me feel humble and ready to face every blow with courage! As luck would have it, I’m only able–except for a few rare occasions–to view nature through dusty curtains tacked over dirt-caked windows; it takes the pleasure out of looking. Nature is the one thing for which there is no substitute! –June 13, 1944
How do these thoughts from a young girl affect you today? How will it cause you to think about life differently? If you had lived in Amsterdam at the time of this diary, what part would you have played? I don’t think I would’ve been brave enough to be a part of the resistance, but surely we would’ve sheltered friends in need, especially if asked, and if God was leading that way in scripture. I guess that would’ve been the bottom line for me–what was God saying to me? I would want to follow His lead without fear. But would I, in dangerous circumstances like this? It’s something to think about.