Otto Frank, Anne’s father, was the only annex inhabitant who survived the war. When he returned to Amsterdam after the war, he was given Anne’s notebooks and papers that the Gestapo left scattered on the floor of the Secret Annex. Among these papers was her diary.
The first entry in Anne’s diary is dated June 14, 1942, two days after her thirteenth birthday and three weeks before she and her family were to go into hiding.
She wanted to confide completely in her diary, which she addressed as Kitty, she writes, because neither her friends nor her family seems sufficiently interested in understanding her deepest thoughts. The early entries show that Anne is a fairly typical, although exceptionally sensitive, young teenager.
After Anne and her parents go into hiding, the diary records her perceptions of the confined life that she and the others lead. As might be expected, Anne was often miserable, but there were times when she experienced happiness and joy in the midst of her hardship and suffering.
Living in such close proximity, the residents of the Secret Annex frequently get on each other’s nerves. Anne was often furious with Mr. Van Daan, who, in her opinion, was superficial and petty. The pedantic Mr. Dussel sometimes drove her to distraction. Although petty quarrels were commonplace among the residents, the remarkable fact that emerged from Anne’s diary is not that conflict arises, but that eight individuals can endure constant fear and total confinement, with grace and dignity.
Perhaps the most appealing quality of Anne Frank’s diary is its sensitive expression of a young girl’s dreams and her struggle to grow into a woman.
Discerning about the circumstances of wartime Holland, Anne also looks inward to discover herself. The entries reflect her intense desire for self understanding. Also revealed is her need to be loved and respected as a unique individual. She dreamed of becoming a writer so that she would be remembered after her death. Shortly before she and the others were arrested by the Gestapo, Anne experienced the first flush of love with Peter Van Daan, a shy boy also reaching out for love and understanding. The tragedy of Anne Frank is that she died before her l6th birthday, her dreams unfulfilled.