If you have not yet heard about, or had a chance to read about the discovery of another diary written by a teenage Jewish girl, living during the Holocaust, do yourself a favor, and take a moment to read this.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” is one of those books that will forever haunt me. I honestly don’t remember how old I was when I read it, but I was probably 14 years old myself, and I recall the impact it had on me then. I too was a teenage girl, I too kept a diary, and I too felt a bit like the world didn’t want me, I didn’t fit in, so I identified with Anne Frank. But unlike her, I wasn’t in fear for my life, I wasn’t “in hiding” and unable to tell people who I really was. I cried for Anne Frank and her pain and suffering, for the injustice she, and all others like her were put through. But I admired her strength, her perseverance, her ability to keep dreaming about a normal life, when she was living anything but one.
It has been decades since I read her diary, and when it was recently mentioned in another book I was reading, I wondered if I should pick it up again. Would it still have such an impact on me now, a grown woman? Would I still identify with Anne?
Then today I hear about Rutka Laskier’s diary. Another formidable teenager, caught in the same turmoil as Anne Frank, using her diary as a means of expressing not only her anger and pain, but also her dreams and fantasies. And as I read the article above, tears formed in the corners of my eyes and I had my answers to those questions. No, I probably wouldn’t necessarily identify with her still, but yes, Anne’s story, Rutka’s story, would still have an impact on me. Only now, as an adult who has seen more of the horrors of the world, who has suffered some heartbreak of her own, it would have an even deeper impact.
What an unbelievably cruel world this has to be for such things to occur. And yet, what a testament to the human spirit that a diary such as this has appeared after all this time to remind us that we can never forget. To teach us that we must remember to treat our fellow humans with some semblance of respect, to alert us to the fact that a 14 year old deserves and needs time to be a child, to have their dreams and fantasies.
I wonder what legacies we’ll leave behind. Will our teenagers’ diaries, most likely in form of “blogs”, hold such an impact for future generations? Imagine if Anne Frank, or Rutka Laskier had had access to the Internet, what form their blogs would have taken. And then I remember we have teenagers across the world suffering the same injustices, and I wonder if they keep diaries? I hope they do, and I hope they are full of their silly fantasies and dreams amidst all the atrocities they see.
I think I will re-read Anne Frank’s Diary, now and again, we need a dose of harsh reality, to keep us humble, to keep us feeling as blessed as we are. For, I am blessed.