Excerpt from The Diary of Anne FrankAnne Frank

*Wednesday, 13th May, 1944 ‘:..As you can easily imagine we often ask ourselves here despairingly: “What, oh what is the use of the war? Why can’t people live peacefully together? Why all this destruction?”

‘The question is very understandable, but no one has found a satisfactory answer to it so far. Yes, why do they make still more gigantic ‘planes, still heavier bombs and, at the same time, prefabricated houses for reconstruction? Why should millions be spent daily on the war and yet there’s not a penny available for medical services, artists, or for poor people?

‘Why do some people have to starve, while there are surpluses rotting in other parts of the world? Oh, why are people so crazy?

‘I don’t believe that the big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone are guilty of the war. Oh, no, the little man is just as keen, otherwise the people of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There is an urge and rage in people to destroy, to kill, to murder, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.

‘I have often been downcast, but never in despair … (in later paragraph/s, same entry) Why, then, should I be in despair?’

She wrote this from the ‘Secret Annexe’ a month before her 15th birthday in June 1944. Her last entry was Tuesday, 1st August 1944. On the 4th August the ‘Secret Annexe’ was raided and the Jewish prisoners taken to Westerbork, the main German concentration camp in Holland, before being packed off in cattle trucks to Auschwitz on 3rd September. Anne and her sister were sent to Bergen-Belsen in November where in February 1945 they both contracted typhus. The death of her beloved sister Margot, broke Anne’s spirit and she died in early March, 1945.

I finished reading her diary on Sunday. It has my maiden name inscribed in my hand, so I’ve had it a long time. I picked it up off my bookshelf a week or so ago. She was given a diary, her best present, on her 13th birthday in June, 1942, not yet incarcerated. In the foreword by Storm Jameson, he writes that her writing ‘…came as naturally as song to a young bird’. Her diary is an extraordinary piece of writing in which she reveals her self. Her first entry in her diary is dated Sunday, 14th June, 1942, two days after her birthday when they had not yet had to escape – She dates all entries with the day of the week, and dates and addresses her diary “Dear Kitty”.

Somehow, I felt a need to put up her words above – perhaps they’ll give cause for pause in some way –

*The Diary of Anne Frank pages 186-187: Pan Books Ltd; 1973.

56 Comments on Excerpt from The Diary of Anne Frank

  1. Such a thought-provoking book this is. I remember reading it long back. Must check it out soon again. Thanks for the reminder, Susan 🙂

    • Thank you Shilpa .. it was so worth a re-read. The book has my maiden name in it and believe me that is already a long time ago … 🙂

  2. She had so much to offer this world. The fact that she was cut down so ruthlessly has done very little to educate us all: the world is still torn by war, armies grow ever-bigger, and the hungry millions starve.

    Thanks for reminding us of all of this little girl. May her legacy some day waken us as a species to the horrors we perpetrate.

    • Oh dear Damyanti … the world is in such a mess …we don’t seem to learn from the horrors of the past. I truly believe that it begins with each individual, to stand up when we see injustice in any shape or form and to transform ourselves so that we are more authentic human beings. A positive change on the individual micro level – ourselves – will bring about a positive change on the macro-level i.e. society …

  3. Hi Susan – what an amazingly poignant piece of writing … putting so many questions to an audience unknown – yet who she hoped would be there to read and help her understand at some stage: who would have guessed that 71 years later we’d have still been reading her prescient words … why don’t we stop, why can’t we stop … why can’t we understand and as Guilie so clearly talks about … so many great talents, or heartfelt people who would have made the world a better place are no longer here. The ‘whys’ are frigthening to think about … and unanswerable … we are in a very difficult place right now in the world … great post – thanks for writing this up for us … Hilary

    • Great thoughts, Hilary, what I often think — so many great talents, or heartfelt people. Great talents are often found in the least expected place, in the least expected person.

      • Thanks so much Hilary for coming by … she was writing for herself not knowing that her words would be read so much later although at one point in her diary she does wonder if anyone would read her words. All important questions from one so young.

        Samantha’s comment is also lovely – unexpected talents in unexpected places ..

  4. What, oh what is the use of the war? Why can’t people live peacefully together? Why all this destruction?”…
    well that summarizes the paradoxical essence of holocaust… That incomprehensible event…
    I have always admired Anne Frank alongside many survivors which testimonies I have heard on documentaries, and even in one occasion, in a talk at the University…
    I sometimes wonder how they made it through… psychologically speaking… how they did not break down… how they could see the world with new grateful eyes…
    Thanks so much for sharing… Oh and last but not least there is a BBC series called Auschwitz currently on Netflix which I recommend you…
    Sending love and best wishes. Aquileana ?

    • Thank you Aquileana for your comment and repeating her opening lines in this excerpt, the cry of many of us if not most of humanity …I wonder all the time how the world could be seen as a place of comfort and hope after undergoing the experiences that they did… and how they bore this psychologically, spiritually, emotionally. What did they perceive to be beautiful and true in spite of everything? Is it courage? Faith, abiding hope, seeing an essential goodness in everyone? Is it a testament to the human spirit seeing potential when there is destruction?

      Thank you for the recommendation on Auschwitz on Netflix .. I will seek it out.

      Love and best wishes to you,


  5. The wisdom that does not die. Thank you for reminding me that there have been wise ones, including children, who clearly saw the insanity of our love of war and destruction. Collectively, we seem to learn very little.

    Have you read Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life the Diaries, 1941-1943 and Letters from Westerbork? One of my all-time favorite writers. She wrote as an educated young woman in Amsterdam during the same period as Anne Frank, but she Etty was at least 10 years older. I loved her insights about human nature, war, mysticism, and poetry. I loved her sensual and intellectual romps with her Jungian analyst–today he would lose his license. She helped me find my way to glimpses of beauty and joy at the lousiest times. If you haven’t read Etty, you’ll love her and grieve for her.

    • ‘The wisdom that does not die’. Beautiful words thank you Elaine. And true, that history continues to repeat itself until the lesson has been learned – Freud’s repetition compulsion comes to mind.

      I will will look out Etty Hillesum.. thank you for this pointer. I read C.S. Lewis’ ”Till we have Faces’ on your recommendation on my Kindle while travelling in Turkey last month – (it seems so long ago already) – and I so appreciated this book. Am sure I will Etty Hillesum as well..

  6. I received Anne’s diary as a gift on my 10th or 11th birthday… And it shaped my adolescence in ways I may not even be aware of yet. She was a wonderful human being, certainly, and would’ve grown up to be great at whatever she chose to do, no question. But it’s not really about Anne at all, is it? The reason this diary has touched (and, hopefully changed) so many lives is because it’s a voice from beyond not just the grave but the horrors of modernity’s worst episode of cruelty and wanton, senseless violence. Anne’s is just one voice, but in a way she speaks for all those that were silenced so brutally. How many more brilliant writers—and scientists—and engineers—and philosophers—and cooks—and teachers—were silenced before they got a chance to give the world whatever they had to give? All those voices, millions and millions… That, to me, is the core of impact at the heart of the Diary. The human loss, forever irretrievable. And to think that we keep doing this thing, we keep killing and justifying ourselves behind empty ideals… It breaks my heart.

    I’m glad you reread Anne. I lost my copy a gazillion years ago, but by then it was tattered and falling apart in my hands. I’ll have to get a new copy one of these days…

    • Thanks Guilie for coming by – you get to the heart of the matter in your comment.

      Can anything arise from the ashes? We are always in the eye of the storm and it’s hard sometimes to see our way out over through and beyond it. The loss of people is so huge and tragic. Man’s inhumanity to man and nature is real –

      Speaking of storms, may you and all, animals and creatures, be safe with the Patricia hurricane on its way.


  7. sorry Susan a lot of typing errors today I did not bring my spectacle… and its been difficult for me to read and comment.. I managed to read the post, but I find some mistakes in my comments…. I meant I will get hold of her diary to read…:):)

  8. I heard about diary of Anne Frank while I was still in my teens; she was so inspiring then and I was fascinated by her quotes and writings, even though I have not read her complete diary…just loved her quotes which remains still a favourite quote for me “No one can become poor by giving”.. can’t imagine … so young, beautiful, cheerful and and so inspiring… so much depth in her writings.. thanks for sharing Susan.. I am get hold of her diary and read… thanks for sharing..

    • Thanks for coming by Genevive – yes that quote was also one that stuck with me – ‘No one can become poor by giving’ ..

      Have a lovely weekend 🙂

  9. Hi,
    I read this on your FB page when you posted. It brought back memories. I thought of the first time that I read the Diary of Anne Frank. It touched me deeply then and it touches me even deeper now when I see what is happening among the human races living on this planet. Thank you for posting it. Anne’s voice still rings out. Death did not keep her silent and I am so glad it didn’t.

  10. I often wonder what she would have been like and what she might have done, if she had lived. She seemed so insightful and caring–her often quoted sentence about still believing in the good in people. At the same time, when you read her diary, you see a teenage girl who had conflicts with her mother and had her first love. I think it is the fact that she and the others in the Secret Annex tried to live ordinary lives in these extraordinary conditions–and with the help of generous and brave people–that makes her words and story so compelling.

    Have you looked at the Anne Frank House Website? http://www.annefrank.org/en/Subsites/Home/

    I remember my younger daughter teaching the diary last year. Her students were so unaware of the Holocaust, but became interested the more they learned about it.

    • Thank you for coming by Merril. I also sometimes wonder … I agree that living in living in such an unusual situation adds to her writing. But already from the beginning before the Secret Annexe, she was incisive and insightful. An extraordinary talent which continued into her confinements ..

      Thank you for the link … I will investigate soon.

      Good that your daughter’s students became more aware … there is no excuse for being unaware of the Holocaust …

  11. I read Anne Frank’s Diary in my late teens. I think it’s it’s due past for another read – thank you for sharing this one, and how pertinent her words are 71 years later

  12. I read Anne Frank’s Diary in grammar school when we studied WWII. This past October 11, I reviewed The Locket by Mike Evans on my blog, another book detailing the holocaust and causing one to take pause and consider the many things you mention in this post. It scares me a little, thinking about what might be yet to come, if people (and especially) politicians, don’t come to their senses and start caring more about humanity, and less about being right or superior to everyone else. Thanks for this special post, Susan.

    • Thank you M.J. I think there’s an awareness of how awfully skewed things are and the ordinary people are protesting, a very legitimate form of taking action. Saying No and No More to much … and the politicians are noting the power of the people.

  13. Wonderful post, Susan. Such words should be shared again and again, not matter the number of time we read them. So much wisdom in her words. Such beauty and honesty.

  14. There is something ephemeral about this book. The protagonist in my mss picked this as an example of human tenacity and grit. I’d never read it at that point, but figured I should so I could better understand my character’s point. What a book.

    • Well, that’s wonderful and amazing Jacqui, thank you for letting us know! Tenacity and grit -she had bucketsful – and she is an example to us all. Thanks for coming by.

  15. Beautiful, that it is in your heart to share with us about Anne Frank!

    I am moved to buy and read her diary, and it will be a book for me to treasure.

  16. I remember reading it over and over as a teen. Each time I was newly impressed by her conclusion , “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.” What a soul she had, if only more of us believed that and acted accordingly. Nice post.

    • Thanks Deborah for coming by. Yes, that belief in her of the inherent goodness of people was strong and almost unshakeable. She saw the good in her sometimes insufferable ‘companions’ in the ‘Secret Annexe’ which, you will remember from your many re-readings, she wrote with a deft and wry touch tinged with humour among the unfolding tragedy.

  17. Beautiful and thought provoking post, Susan, indeed why, why humanity’s priorities are so wrong, I ask in despair too… Don’t have answers, sadly. I came to experience war quite closely though we were lucky in the end. So many people are not…

    • Thank you Gulara. It’s necessary to note that priorities are off in so many ways – and be stupefied – before we can attempt to address and re-balance them. Though quite how is another question. We can each do our bit by adding a grain of consciousness to the world.

  18. Revealing the self takes so many forms through the ages. How timeless her words and how we each
    relate to them differently. You through the name…

    • Thank you Susan for commenting. My maiden name is Franks, so a difference. I think she revealed a very wise self at her tender age. Writing gave her a wonderful tool with which to express herself.

  19. Thank you for the reminder. I was born after the war and remember the pain of learning what atrocities humans are capable of, and the ‘why’ about the madness in the world. Anne Frank epitiomised the questions every young person asks.

    • Thanks Ashen for coming by. For me as an adult born also after the war, the questions Anne Frank poses are still questions I ask. Or, if I forget, she reminds me …

  20. Sadly, Anne Frank’s words were so wise, yet so many years ago. I think we should send her book to all the politicians out there. Yet, still some cultures massacre other peoples because they are different. When we have a garden of roses or hydrangea or irises we rejoice in the different sizes, shapes and colors. Why can’t we do this with mankind? I hate the archaic thinking of some cultures and religious mindsets… please wake up to the beauty in the world in our differences… not hate or kill one another!

    • Thank you Gwynn – an interesting analogy of the garden and appreciation of the different blossoms, their shape size and colour, smell too .. and interesting also about our politicians getting a wake up call. How many would have read her diary I wonder?

    • Thank you Marian. Yes, it was a profound read for me. I guess not only personal history is timeless but our shared history as well ..

  21. Nice post. I remember being taught about Anne Frank at school but don’t think we ever actually read her journals (at least can’t remember reading anything of them). Wish I’d read this in school because we were taught a fairly unsympathetic / dehumanized side of war history from what I remember.

    • Thanks Mike – history usually tells a skewed story so that it reflects well upon winner or loser. Thankfully, events from time past are being aired these days as we’re learning that the truth needs to be told so that healing on some level can truly begin. It’s a stand alone book – I’ll pass it on to you next time.

  22. What a beautiful face! Hardly bears thinking about, yet her diary has also changed the world in its own way. But craziness continues, everyday in every way. Change cannot be quantified, nor numbers set against one. One is also all. Some people manifest that truth, and they shine.

    • Thank you for your comment Patricia – yes, she does shine and continues to do so. And her effect upon the world is lasting even if the craziness continues.

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