The History Press recently added another book to their series ‘Pocket Giants’. These books are about significant people who have made a difference to the world in one guise or another and, as the name implies, these books are small in content, but full of substance that hopefully compels the reader to further their interest. This particular book does this very well.
Anne Frank, a girl of Dutch birth, chose for her thirteenth birthday a diary, a simple book that she filled in with startlingly intelligent commentary. It tells of how her family and others moved into a small, hidden room as the German Reich began their systematic clearance of people of Jewish extraction and sending them to their deaths. They stayed there for just over two years and struggled to make sense of their plight. Anne and her family were discovered and moved to a concentration camp. Tragically she died before her sixteenth birthday of malnutrition and Typhus. Therefore her superbly kept writings became her epitaph. Her diary later became an international bestseller; and she posthumously became a celebrity author, which is what she always had aspired to be.
This book, written by Zoe Waxman a member of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, is a first-class, yet brief account of Anne Frank’s short life. There are very few quotes extracted from the diary, but enough to get the feel for it. Direct and to the point without a great deal of sentimental involvement, other than what it leaves the reader to ponder on? It goes further to explain the aftermath of her life and the war. How her worldwide celebrity is utilized today as an icon of the Holocaust. Although some millions of Jewish people died during those years, she stands almost alone; as a beacon to the generations that are lucky to be free and healthy.
A poignant comment made in the book is:
‘What matters far more is that her young life was wilfully cut short by a system whose witless barbarity we swore never to forget or to forgive while it still raged, but which, now that it belongs in the past, we are already busily, if not forgiving, then forgetting, which ultimately comes to the same thing’.
I sincerely hope we never forget, forgiveness is another matter for people’s own conscience, forgetting should never be an option. I hope this book will prove to be a good foundation for further understanding of Anne Frank’s short life, the Anne Frank Diary, the entire Holocaust tragedy and, how lucky we are today in comparison.
Anne Frank by Zoe Waxman
978-0-7509-5563-8 The History Press Pocket Giants pbk Nov 2015
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