I shared earlier about Anne Frank’s best friend, Hanneli (Hannah) Goslar. Today’s quotes from Anne’s famous diary are regarding her friend, Hanneli. She was concerned that Hannah had most likely been taken to a concentration camp, and very likely had died. On the other hand, Anne and her family were safe in the secret annex. Sadly, she was right, except it was the other way around; Hannah would survive and Anne would die.
Last night just as I was falling asleep, Hanneli suddenly appeared before me. I saw her there, dressed in rags, her face thin and worn. She looked at me with such sadness and reproach in her enormous eyes that I could read the message in them: “Oh, Anne, why have you deserted me? Help me, help me, rescue me from this hell!”
And I can’t help her. I can only stand by and watch while other people suffer and die. All I can do is pray to God to bring her back to us. I saw Hanneli, and no one else, and I understood why. I misjudged her, wasn’t mature enough to understand how difficult it was for her. She was devoted to her girlfriend, and it must have seemed as though I were trying to take her away. The poor thing, she must have felt awful! I know, because I recognize the feeling in myself! I had an occasional flash of understanding, but then got selfishly wrapped up again in my own problems and pleasures.
It was mean of me to treat her that way, and now she was looking at me, oh so helplessly, with her pale face and beseeching eyes. If only I could help her! Dear God, I have everything I could wish for, while fate has her in its deadly clutches. She was as devout as I am, maybe even more so, and she too wanted to do what was right. But then why have I been chosen to live, while she’s probably going to die? What’s the difference between us? Why are we now so far apart?
To be honest, I hadn’t thought of her for months–no, for at least a year I hadn’t forgotten her entirely, and yet it wasn’t until I saw her before me that I thought of all her suffering. Oh, Hanneli, I hope that if you live to the end of the war and return to us, I’ll be able to take you in and make up for the wrong I’ve done to you. But even if I were ever in a position to help, she wouldn’t need it more than she does now. I wonder if she ever thinks of me, and what she’s feeling? Merciful God, comfort her, so that at least she won’t be alone. Oh, if only You could tell her I’m thinking of her with compassion and love, it might help her go on.
I’ve got to stop dwelling on this. It won’t get me anywhere. I keep seeing her enormous eyes, and they haunt me. Does Hanneli really and truly believe in God, or has religion merely been forced upon her? I don’t even know that. I never took the trouble to ask. Hanneli, Hanneli, if only I could take you away, if only I could share everything I have with you. It’s too late. I can’t help, or undo the wrong I’ve done. But I’ll never forget her again and I’ll always pray for her! –November 27, 1943
I was very sad again last night. Grandma and Hanneli came to me once more. Grandma, oh, my sweet Grandma. How little we understood what she suffered, how kind she always was and what an interest she took in everything that concerned us. And to think that all that time she was carefully guarding her terrible secret [Note: Anne’s grandmother was terminally ill]…And Hanneli? Is she still alive? What’s she doing? Dear God, watch over her and bring her back to us. Hanneli, you’re a reminder of what my fate might have been. I keep seeing myself in your place. So why am I often miserable about what goes on here? Shouldn’t I be happy, contented and glad, except when I’m thinking of Hanneli and those suffering along with her? I’m selfish and cowardly. Why do I always think and dream the most awful things and want to scream in terror? Because, in spite of everything, I still don’t have enough faith in God. He’s given me so much, which I don’t deserve, and yet each day I make so many mistakes! Thinking about the suffering of those you hold dear can reduce you to tears; in fact, you could spend the whole day crying. The most you can do is pray for God to perform a miracle and save at least some of them. And I hope I’m doing enough of that! –December 29, 1943
It’s funny, but I often have such vivid images in my dreams. One night I saw Granny so clearly that I could even make out her skin of soft, crinkly velvet. Another time Grandma appeared to me as a guardian angel. After that it was Hanneli, who still symbolizes to me the suffering of my friends as well as that of Jews in general, so that when I’m praying for her, I’m also praying for all the Jews and all those in need. –January 6, 1944