It is easy to be numbed by the immense statistics of the Holocaust but we should remember that every one of its victims was an individual human being. Perhaps the best known was Anne Frank who wrote the following entry in her diary on 5 April 1944.
For a long time now I didn’t know why I was bothering to do any schoolwork. The end of the war still seemed so far away, so unreal, like a fairy tale. If the war isn’t over by September, I won’t go back to school, since I don’t want to be two years behind…
I finally realised that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want! I know I can write…
I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop and to express all that's inside me!
When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?.
I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, because writing allows me to record everything, all my thoughts, ideals and fantasies.
Through her diary, which was published in 1947, Anne achieved the literary immortality she had hoped for. But, like millions of men, women and children, she never lived to see it. Anne and her family were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944, from where Anne and her sister Margot were deported to Bergen-Belsen in the autumn of that year. Both died from typhus in Belsen in March 1945, a month before liberation.
Photo: Anne Frank, 1941; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Eva Schloss
Diary entry: Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, ed. Otto H. Frank & Mirjam Pressler (Penguin, 2001)