The Diary of Anne Frank is the published diary of Annelies Marie Frank, a German-born Jewish girl from Amsterdam, Netherlands, who went into hiding along with her family and four others in an effort to avoid being sent to the concentration camps. The Diary of Anne Frank offers readers the unique experience of learning what life was like during Hitler’s regime from the perspective of a young Jewish woman. 

It is important to note that Anne’s diary is not fiction and therefore cannot be analyzed as such. Readers should not expect to track the traditional plot conventions that one tends to expect when reading a novel (rising action, climax, falling action etc). Instead, readers can trace a young girl’s coming-of-age amidst unspeakable horrors and isolation and appreciate her unshakable ability to find hope and resilience in the face of so much fear and uncertainty. 

Anne’s diary begins on her thirteenth birthday, June 12, 1942. She writes that she was excited to receive the diary as a birthday gift because she did not feel that she had anybody in her life to confide in. Her initial entries are filled with tales from school, boys, friends, and fights that Anne has with her mother and sister. The introductory entries are significant because they indicate that she is a typical teenage girl even amidst the backdrop of heightening tensions in Amsterdam. For example, Anne often writes about school experiences at the Jewish Lyceum but never mentions that she and her sister have to go to school there because Jewish people are prohibited from attending any other school. This reveals the depth to which things under Hitler’s regime became normalized, especially to a young person who did not know any better.

The subject matter of Anne’s diary shifts after her sister Margot receives a letter calling her to report to one of the concentration camps. The Franks decide that they need to leave, and Anne’s parents reveal that they have been making preparations for them to hide in a secret annex above Otto Frank’s office. The Franks are soon joined by Mr. and Mrs. van Daan, their teenage son Peter, and a man named Albert Dussel who will be hiding with them. At first Anne sees the annex as an adventure but the novelty soon wears off and gives way to isolation and resentment because her vibrant ways are always getting her into trouble with the other people in the annex. 

Anne's prolific diary entries over the next two years reveal her growing maturity. She begins to contemplate what it means to be both Jewish and German and is saddened and angry that one side of her heritage has rejected the other side so violently. Her justifiable anger at Germany prompts her to write that, if she survives the war, she wishes to become a Dutch citizen because she no longer feels loyal to her former country. However, Anne refuses to compromise her faith even in the midst of so much pain. For example, she is disappointed in Peter when he says that he will not want people to know that he is Jewish after the war. 

Anne’s growing maturity also occurs on a more personal level as she begins to develop a romantic relationship with Peter. Her relationship with Peter is an important aspect of her development because it causes her to contemplate her own sexuality for the first time. These examples of Anne’s developing maturity are significant because they demonstrate how the Holocaust forced Anne to grow up and come to terms with her own identity as a Jew, as a German, and as a young woman.  
After almost two years in the annex, Anne also begins to contemplate the power of the written word. In spring of 1944, the inhabitants of the annex hear on the radio that a member of the Dutch government wishes to publish people’s diaries and letters after the war. Anne and her companions immediately think of her diary which causes Anne to envision a future when she can publish a novel about their time in the annex. Her revelation that people could one day read what she has to say marks a shift in Anne’s writing because she starts to write for future readers instead of simply for herself. For example, in one entry Anne includes her family’s war-ration recipe for potato kugel, ostensibly for the benefit of future readers so that they can learn what life was like under German occupation.

Tragically, the Franks, the van Daans, and Mr. Dussel were discovered on August 4, 1944 and sent to the camps just two months after Anne turned fifteen. Only Otto Frank survived. He found his daughter’s diary when he returned after the war and decided to fulfill Anne’s dream of having her words inform and inspire others, and had it published on June 25, 1947. Today, we remember Anne Frank for her honest and authentic account of what life was like under the Nazi occupation. We also admire Anne for her ability to see the good in humanity despite living through such dark times. In a famous entry dated July 15, 1944, less than a month before the annex was discovered, Anne famously writes, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” Anne’s immortal words of hope and forgiveness are a testament to her resilience and have created a lasting legacy that continues to be a source of inspiration for people around the world.