“I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”
Dear Anne, I hope what you confided in the diary, what we millions of readers around the world read today, will be a source of comfort to you, knowing that we are in awe of your courage, strength, and the magnitude of your faith. We can’t begin to imagine what you and the rest of the members of the annex, as well as those others who were in hiding, had to go through: The constant fear of being discovered, the anxiety that comes from the uncertainty, the dire living conditions having to coup up in a small space for years end. And after all those sufferings, you had to be a victim and not a victor. That broke my heart, Anne.
To tell you honestly, Anne, I read your diary as if in a dream. I knew beforehand that it will be an emotionally taxing journey, not only because of what you’ve written but because I knew the end. So perhaps reading it as if in a trance maybe my way of protecting me from breaking down. But occasionally, when my veil of protection was shaken, I felt an icy cold gripping my heart. The discriminations and the horrors your people had to endure, and also the horrors the rest of the people in occupied countries had to endure, were too cruel to be true. But they truly happened. They did happen. And we live in that same world where at one point some deemed it right to exterminate one race! It’s just appalling. But, while I felt all this Anne, you were optimistic. “Beauty remains even in misfortune. If you just look for it, you discover more and more happiness and regain your balance… A person who has courage and faith will never die in misery”.
Your diary is truthful. It tells us how the eight of you lived nearly two years couped up in the “secret annex”. You tell us how crowded it can be, and the quarrels between people who live in such close proximity. Then you describe the emotional strain of living closed up with constant fear and anxiety. You were a brave girl, Anne. But even you despaired at times. “I’ve asked myself again and again whether it wouldn’t have been if we hadn’t gone into hiding, if we were dead now and didn’t have to go through this misery. But we shrink from this thought. We still love life, we haven’t yet forgotten the voice of nature, and we keep hoping..” At times it was hard to read your words, Anne; the words full of life, hope, and faith. You hoped for the invasion to come, to rescue you, and to allow you once again to step into the free world. But fate intervened before that. After forming a close connection with you and the other members in the annex through your diary, it was hard to digest that none except your father made it through to the free world.
But I’ll tell you this, Anne. Remember what you wrote in your diary about not wanting to be forgotten. You wrote “I can’t imagine having to live like all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I want to go on living even after my death!”. You are not forgotten and even after your death, you’re living in millions of readers’ hearts. You wanted to be an author. And you are one, through your diary. So dear Anne, in a way, you accomplished your goal. And I’ll tell you this also, Anne. You are a beautiful soul. “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart”. Only you could have said that having to live through such injustice and cruelty.
You wrote once, Anne that “ten years after the war people would find it amusing to read how we lived”. But it is not amusing; it is heartbreaking. Only people who had similar experiences could truly know the physical suffering and mental agonies of such living. The rest cannot even imagine. At least, you are now in your eternal rest. You cannot be touched by any sort of suffering now. That is a comfort to my burdened heart.
I’ll now say my farewell to you. But before I go, I have a confession to make. Anne, I bought your diary at Auschwitz. It may be looked at as a cruel trick played on you, selling your story at a place you suffered much. But to tell you the truth, Anne, I see it as a tribute to you and all the holocaust victims who died without their voices being heard. And I sincerely hope you’ll feel the same.