Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book review: The diary of a young girl

Often I come across a book that is in itself a boring read but triggers a series of events making me more knowledgeable. "The diary of a young girl" by Anne Frank is one such book which bored me with rants of a young adolescent but the one which made me read tens of stories about World Wars, Nazi atrocity, holocaust, cruelty of Jew extermination camps and led me to interesting conversations with other enthusiasts. I am now better exposed to the topic of Hitler than I was earlier. This unexpected stumbling on a reservoir of stories and facts forms the definition of a good book.

The book is a diary as the title suggests of a young girl, Anne Frank who goes into hiding with 7 other Jews during the German occupation of Netherlands. Anne receives a diary as a birthday present on her 13th year from her father, just two days before going into hiding. She writes all her letters to an imaginary friend called 'Kitty' and speaks on a gamut of emotions such as her shock from going into hiding, her growing sexuality, her troubled relationship with her mother, her identity crisis as an adolescent, her routine in the 'Secret Annexe' (the name of their hiding place as given by Anne), her views on the ongoing of second World War, her dreams post-war et al.

The writing style is that of a typical diary (translated from the original manuscript in Dutch) and the reader finds description of mundane routines of the hiding members. The horrors faced by a family in hiding is written in a matter-of-factly manner. The reader gets to see the intensifying and simultaneously confusing emotions of an adolescent and anybody can relate with Anne's emotions of a teenager. There is a glimpse of Dutch and Jewish culture to relish. It is heart wrenching to read the fate of all those 8 members of the 'Secret Annexe' once they were found by the Nazi gestapo officers. An elaborate description of Anne's life can be read here: Of all the 8 Jew victims who were arrested, only Anne's father Otto Frank survived the extermination camp by a sliver of good luck since the war ended just when he was about to be executed. Once out of his living hell, Otto comes back to collect whatever was left in the 'Secret Annexe' only to find his daughter's diary. After removing explicit sexual contents of his daughter and vile description of his wife's character by Anne, Otto published the diary for the whole world to read. Till date this book is the most acclaimed account of a Nazi victim's life and Anne has come to represent the six million Jews who were executed in the holocaust.

Here is a movie that does brilliant justice to Anne's diary: The sickness of Nazi treatment to Jews is very well depicted in the movie. I was appalled, disgusted and angered by a particular scene where a family member had to poop in a trashcan since she wasn't allowed to leave the common room while a potential threat occurred to the safety of hiding. 

While the book and the following research about holocaust was intellectually enriching, I was angered beyond expression on the cruelty over Jews worldwide. The pacifist in me was awakened and I came to the conclusion that all and any war serves no purpose to humanity. Probably I need a very strong reason to again believe in the necessity of a war. The read was very slow and I had to rush through many sections where the detailing got very dull and repetitious. This was one of the books I forced myself to finish. 

I recommend this book because:
  • humanity owes Nazi victims' a simple honor of their stories being heard
  • this book will enable further reading on related topics
  • the reader will get to know Nazi atrocities first hand
"What is truth? It is what you choose to believe"
- Jeet Thayil

Hitler's truth cost the lives of 6 million Jews. DON'T ever believe in a truth that costs the lives of millions. 

Further reading:
To give my readers a glimpse of madness that had struck humanity during second World War, here is a story of a doctor who tortured innocent children akin to lab rats:
 Do read all the hyperlinks in the link above to realize the horror of one man's obsession with murder.

No comments:

Post a Comment