Swish! Oh, hello there. I suppose you’re here to learn about Anne, right? Well, we should begin with introductions. I’m Kitty, Annelies Marie Frank’s diary, a red-and-white checkered plaid autograph book gifted by Otto Frank, her loving father, on her 13th birthday, to celebrate her succession into adolescence. The poor girl had no one to turn to for years: she long desired for a single, true friend and regardless of how hard she tried, I am the only one she ever truly confided in until her untimely death.
My first appearance in Anne’s diary was on June 14, 1942 after she received a diary for her 13th birthday and the very first month with Anne was a joyful one. The bubbly girl started writing about everything under the sun – from daily mundane events, to school grades and even boys! Alas, fate wasn’t so merciful. Under the leadership of the vile ‘Chancellor’ of Germany, Adolf Hitler, anti-Semitism was at an all-time high; living in German-occupied Holland, the Franks feared for their lives. On July 9, 1942, the Franks moved into the Secret Annex and went into hiding, fearing the authorities who wished to send them away to concentration camps.
Anne fondly addressed me as ‘Dear Kitty’, ‘My darling Kitty’ and ‘Dearest Kitty’. I was perpetually there with Anne through the years as a close confidant; wept with her through the bad times and rejoiced with her through the not so bad times as she confided in me for two years. Even when cooped up in tiny rooms, Anne flourished gracefully, from a tender bud to a fragrant blossom: she accumulated knowledge of politics and literature while continuing to write even as the heart wrenching sounds of bombs and gunfire echoed throughout the city.
Anne matured in ways almost unimaginable, bringing her vibrant imagination into every room, splashing vivid colour in the darkest of places. Yet even so, the ‘new’ Annes… weren’t always the best. War took a toll on her, and even with her sensitive and caring friend, Peter van Daan, Anne lost her vigor, her energy, her excitement. The Anne I once knew was now subdued, almost as if the Secret Annex, with its dark corners and cramped spaces, had contaminated her.
Gradually, Anne felt her own suffering to be unbearable, even with me around: she felt alone, isolated, trapped and constantly criticized. The miserable adolescent went so far to wish she and her family had died all those years ago, instead of surviving and hiding in the Secret Annex. Anne’s own goodwill became her enemy. As she became harder on those around her, she became harder on herself, her compassionate soul berating herself for her actions.
On this low note, Anne stopped writing to me. Two days after her last diary entry, the Secret Annex was raided. I still do not know if we were betrayed, or if the Annex’s discovery was a mere accident. Anne, the rest of the Franks and the other members of the Annex were all sent away to brutal concentration camps.
Anne, her sister Margot and her mother Edith, were all sent away to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Anne was shaved and tattooed with an identifying number on her arm. She was viewed as mere slave labour, and with disease rampant, was soon badly infected with scabies. The Frank sisters moved into the infirmary. Their mother stopped eating, saving every morsel of food for her daughters. Anne and Margot were relocated to Bergen-Belsen. Edith was left behind. She died of starvation soon after.
Bald, emaciated and shivering, Anne succumbed to the Typhus epidemic at the concentration camp. She passed away in February 1945, a few days after her elder sister Margot died of the same disease.
Otto survived Auschwitz. For months he attempted to locate his family but to no avail. His secretary, who assisted the Franks while they were in hiding, had been keeping me safe for all those months. Once Anne’s death was confirmed, he gave me to Otto. To bring Anne’s repeated wish of becoming an author into realization posthumously, Otto had Anne’s entries to me published in a book that received critical acclaim globally and Anne was soon renowned as an important cultural figure who represented the destruction of youth during World War 2; her diary an exposé dedicated to the utter hideousness of Fascism and the Nazi occupation.
And so, Anne Frank lives on, even today, in the form of me, Kitty, her diary. I am Anne, or rather, every Anne that ever was: the bubbly Anne before she went into hiding, the mature Anne of the Secret Annex, the desolate Anne of the days before her capture and the emaciated Anne of the concentration camps. Even so, to quote Anne herself, in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.
By Aaditya and Aditi Gandhi