Dear Anne, today you would have turned 93, but we all know the history why that didn’t happen.
Some of that history is written in the diary you received on your 13th birthday, June 12 1942.So many people have read that diary, your private thoughts laid bare for the world to see. But I am sure you would not have minded that because aside it being a diary, it is also a historical record. You made sure of that because you could see and hear what was happening around you. You also heeded the call of the exiled Dutch government for people to record as much as they could.
What some people don’t realize if the Nazis would not have got to power, your diary would have looked so much different, it wouldn’t even have been written in Dutch but German, Because if the Nazis had not got to power your parents would not have had to move. Your German diary would have told a different story. The story about a different kind of anxiety. The anxiety of a regular teenage girl. Her first dance, her first kiss and perhaps even of the first time having sex with a boyfriend. The anxiety of seeing each other naked for the first time, and maybe how you blushed the first time he touched your breasts and you touched his penis. Who knows, what would be in that diary? I am not saying this to be disrespectful, far from it, like any other girl you deserved that level of intimacy but you were denied it. But your German diary would have been just that, a diary, only for you to read.
People call you an author. But you weren’t you were just a girl who had the endure something no girl should have to endure.
And like any other girl you had friends.
Lucia “Lucie” van Dijk , a Christian friend from the Montessori school. Lucie’s mother was an adamant member of the NSB,the Dutch Nazi party, until the end of the war, but Lucie’s disillusioned father left the party in 1942. You were shocked when the van Dijks became party members, but your dad ,Otto, patiently explained to her that they could still be good people even if they had distasteful politics.
Rie “Ietje” Swillens was another good friend of yours all the way through Montessori school.
Nanette Blitz Konig who was born on April 6, 1929 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. just a few months older then you. A friend and a class mate . You were in the same class at the Jewish Lyceum.
Like your family ,the Blitz family was arrested and taken to the Westerbork transit camp and from there were deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. It was Nannette that reunited you with your sister Margot, in Bergen Belsen. However Nanette survived the war and the Holocaust. She now lives in Brazil.
Then there was another Nanette ; Nanette van Praag Sigaar.
You were also in the same class at the Jewish Lyceum, in Amsterdam. You even wrote about her in your diary. You said “Nannie is a funny, tiny, clever girl. I like her. She is smart.” What you didn’t know is that Nannie was murdered in Auschwitz on November 5,1942, just a few months after you received your diary as a birthday gift.
Your 13th birthday gift is now a gift to us all. Not just a gift but also a stark reminder of what humans are capable of doing to other humans.
You would have been 92 today. Nowadays you may have been famous as one of the first people being vaccinated against the Covid 19 virus. But you were killed by a much worse virus, hate.
Happy Birthday Anne, or rather Van Harte Gefeliciteerd.
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