Diary of a Young Girl

by: Anne Frank

July 11, 1942–October 9, 1942

Summary July 11, 1942–October 9, 1942

The war causes Anne to struggle with her identity as both a German and a Jew. She initially identifies herself with the Germans, writing, “Fine specimens of humanity . . . and to think I’m actually one of them!” However, she immediately refutes her own statement, writing “No, that’s not true, Hitler took away our nationality long ago. And besides, there are no greater enemies on earth than the Germans and the Jews.” Anne’s words demonstrate her contempt for the Nazis and her confusion at the fact that they are in fact fellow Germans. Anne feels a stronger connection to the Dutch, but her first instinct is to identify herself as German. She quickly rethinks this notion, realizing that the Nazis no longer consider Jews to be Germans.

The adults in the annex likely share Anne’s confusion about their national and ethnic identity. Having lived in Germany for most of their lives, the Frank and the Van Daan adults have significant roots there. Thirty years earlier, Anne’s father and other German Jews had fought for the German army in World War I. Likewise, in the Netherlands, Dutch Jews and non-Jews lived side by side, considering themselves members of a unified and integrated community. However, the Nazi regime’s rise to power brought the painful realization that both Nazis and many other German people considered Jews foreign or different. As we see in Anne’s identity crisis, the Nazi regime killed not only Jewish people but also the Jewish community’s collective connection to its past. While the Nazis forced Jews to wear stars to mark their identity, they simultaneous stripped the Jews of their identity as members of society.

Anne’s diary demonstrates the impact the Holocaust has on a single girl, which personalizes this sprawling historical horror. Anne becomes preoccupied with questions about who she is and whom she wants to become, and her once innocent perspective changes considerably. The Holocaust forces Anne to grow up and come to terms with her own identity—her role as a member of her family, as a Jew, and as a young woman in a dangerous, threatening world.