I am a voracious reader, and a student of history. In past life, I wanted to study international business, but the arts won me over.
The first time I heard of Anne Frank I was 10 or 11 years old. I had a father who was a student of history, so documentaries were not a strange occurrence around my house growing up. Yet, I only began to hear about Anne Frank when I was in middle school–four years younger than the age she was when she died in Bergen-Belsen in 1945–46 years before I would be born. I remember being in my 6th grade Language Arts class and having to read excerpts of her diary for a unit we were studying–I think it was on narrative writing. In reading her diary for a class felt wrong to me. I knew she was dead, yes, so she wouldn’t mind. But, it was her diary! And it is for that reason, I have always given her work (that is what it is now, her work) a certain respect that I cannot place for any other writer. Neither do I have it for any other writer.
With the state of world including the rise in anti-Semitism, I comfort myself in watching V For Vendetta often. But, I actually watched the documentary #AnneFrank Parallel Stories on Netflix (Go! Watch it now!). And at 39–24 years older than Anne Frank got to be and 52 years younger than she would be today–that same reverence is there for her. As Helen Mirren read from her diary, I found out more about her than I new before! I had always wondered HOW she had lost her diary and WHO kept it (a woman named Miep who owned the house they hid in for 2 years). I had thought about whose decision it was to publish it (it was her father, the only Frank family survivor in early 1960’s-I can only imagine how he felt!). Through this documentary, Anne became more real–and more of a writer–than I thought as that 11-year-old girl at Yeatman Middle School, whose only outlet was reading and writing.
I am ashamed to say that I have not read her whole diary, but I aim to do that this year. Which leads to the question: What does this have to do with anything, right?
Stories matter. Stories teach. Stories reach! They compel, and they tell, and they give peace when they can, and warnings where they must! Anne Frank’s diary is a first-hand account of a girl in the beginning of life, watching her entire life change! And for this reason, for this cause, her work–her diary!–must be studied. It must be taught! The story of her life must be perserved!
I chose this picture of Anne because I like to think had she lived, this is how she would be poised at her desk. Or in her office writing for a newspaper. Or writing her novels. I imagine her all seasoned, wizened, badass with pen in hand. Just imagine what her autobiography would have been like?
Remember the Beyonce song I Was Here? That is how I felt watching this documentary. That is the feeling I get when I encourage other writers to tell their stories, and be bold enough to write down what they cannot speak. Words matter. Stories matter. The story of your life matters. Besides, if you don’t believe me, ask Anne.
Another shameless documentary plug on Netflix which is based on a book is Steal A Pencil For Me. You’re welcome.