The Diary of Anne Frank: Perhaps Hiding was Not a Great Idea

Melk train station in Lower Austria

While watching The Diary of Anne Frank, the 2009 BBC version, I was suddenly struck with the idea that going into hiding was not the best thing the Frank and van Pels (van Daan) family could have done. My opinion stems from something Joe said in his memoir, THE ALTERED I. He told me that in the concentration camp of Melk, big, strapping, strong men (soldiers, prisoners of war) came in, but quickly died. They couldn’t take the transition. Camp life was just too hard, too horrid and squalid. Joe said that within six weeks some of them hadn’t survived. He on the other hand, scrawny, starved, and barefoot had survived some of the worst situations.

Perhaps going into hiding did a great disservice to the Franks, van Pels (van Daan’s) and Mr. Pfeffer (Mr. Dussel). Although they had limited rations, had to be as quiet as mice, could hardly stir all day long, and lived in cramped quarters, they still had it more comfortable than living inside a concentration camp. When they were inevitably found, a tragedy to be sure, they were ill-prepared for the hardships of transportation, starvation, and camp life.  It’s no surprise they died. And so close to the end of the war too. That’s the disturbing part.

I wish they hadn’t been found in their secret annex! I wish they had all survived. I wish Margot Frank’s diary had been recovered as well as Anne’s. But sadly this didn’t happen. Although I had seen this movie (not necessarily this version) many times, read the book, and often pondered the cruelty of their demise, I was touched more deeply this time around.  Although she is just a young girl, Anne’s diary had a profound effect on future generations of young people. Those Nazis who rounded them up were so superior, so full of self-importance. But who remembers them? Who were they? No one knows. Their names are forgotten. As weird as this sounds, I wanted to shout out to the Nazi oafs on the screen Leave her alone! Don’t you know who she is? She’s more important than you’ll ever be!

Anne’s name remains. Anne’s story will continue as long as people want to know it. . . so I guess that means forever. That very little girl and her diary became a treasure to us who value such things.

A part of me wishes they had taken their chances in the selections to begin with, but then that beautiful diary might not have been written. That goes to show that we can’t know the impact our decisions will make on our lives. We can only hope for the best. Decisions like these aren’t easy to make, and who is to say which way is the better choice? If they had all made it and only come out of hiding after the war was over, then definitively we could say  that was the right decision. People during those times had to survive the best way they knew how. That’s a true statement where Joe is concerned. He made drastic decisions in order to survive.  For him there will always be that guilt, that question mark.

Of the eight souls in the hidden annex, only Otto Frank survived, and Anne’s diary. At least we have that.

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