Anne Frank wanted nothing more than to be a writer.
“Will I ever be able to write something great?” she wrote a year before her death. “Will I ever become a journalist or a writer?” More than 70 years after she died, her diary is one of the most read books in the world.
In Anne Frank, the world remembers a light of courage, even hope — a girl who lived and loved and laughed in the face of immense terror. Nelson Mandela once said her diary reminded him of the “invincibility of the human spirit” during his apartheid imprisonment.
There's a lot projected on to Anne, who died when she was only 15, and for good reason. Her young mind was full of pithy aphorisms and wisdom far beyond her age. For 25 months she hid from racism, and for 25 months she preached love in the face of evil.
But Frank’s diary was left at home when she was taken by Nazi soldiers. Even as we continue to take heart in her lightness and courage, readers of Anne Frank would be remiss to forget the darkness that visited her at the end of her life.
While imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Anne once confided in her childhood friend, Hanneli Goslar, who snuck near the camp at night to speak to Anne through a barbed-wire fence. Goslar remembers Frank, who wrongly believed all her family to be dead, saying she had nobody anymore.
“After her sister died, she was just without any hope,” recalls Goslar.
Soon after that conversation, on an unrecorded day in February or March 1945 — just weeks before British forces liberated her camp in April — Anne Frank died. We will never know her last thoughts as she fought typhus. But through her diary we remember the courageous notes of one of history’s greatest young writers.
Read some of her best lines below:
I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that's inside me! I can shake off everything if I write, my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.
On the beauty of life:
I don't think about all the misery, but about the beauty that still remains.
It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.
On the Jewish people and God:
Be brave! Let's remember our duty and perform it without complaint. There will be a way out. God has never deserted our people. Through the ages Jews have had to suffer, but through the ages they've gone on living, and the centuries of suffering have only made them stronger.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
On the persistence of war:
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, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.
You can be lonely even when you're loved by many people, since you're still not anybody's "one and only."
Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl?