June 2nd, 2022
June marks the 75th anniversary of the original Dutch publication of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, a remarkable book that has become a world classic. To mark the anniversary, there is a new edition being published which includes an introduction written by Nadia Murad, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador, and human rights activist.
Below, see an excerpt from this powerful new piece:
Growing up in rural Iraq, I didn’t know about Anne Frank’s remarkable life and diary. When we studied World War II in school, we read only about heads of state and military commanders, all of them men. If you’d asked me then what role a young girl like me could have in teaching people about history or war, I wouldn’t have known what to say. It was impossible for me to imagine myself living during those decades or in Europe, even though, for as long as I could remember, there was war in my country, and my community had been threatened because of our religion, just like Anne and her family.
I first read Anne’s diary years after leaving Iraq and, despite the obvious differences in our stories—and our countries, language, and religion, and the fact that I survived a war while she did not—I felt an instant connection to Anne. She wrote about the hatred she felt being in a Jewish family, first in Germany and then in the Netherlands. She described how that hatred starts small and grows slowly. After Jews were banned from public transport, Anne was angry about having to walk on a hot day. Although she was young, she recognized injustice, and she knew that discrimination could seem mundane before it became violent. It was the same for my community, decades later in Iraq. I felt the same anger during our war, and when I read Anne’s diary, I felt it for her, too.
At first, I was sad, reading her diary and being reminded that history repeats itself. But I also felt joy, and that is the miracle of Anne’s writing. I felt connected to her for the same reasons that have made her diary so beloved and so important to our understanding of World War II throughout the decades. Anne, lonely and isolated in the secret annex, wrote about her friends and family, her strained relationship with her mother and her love for her father. She wrote about crushes on boys and her obsession with movie stars. She wrote about politics and war; feminism and girlhood; moldy bread and the night sky; Russians marching into Romania and the rising cost of coffee. She complained when it was cold and described how to drown out the sound of gunfire by purposefully stumbling up the stairs.
She was undeterred and unafraid to write honestly about everything inside herself, even though the world dismissively derides young women’s thoughts.
Excerpted from The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler. Introduction by Nadia Murad. Copyright © 1991, 2001 by The Anne Frank-Fonds, Basel, Switzerland. Introduction copyright © 2022 by The Anne Frank-Fonds, Basel, Switzerland and Nadia Murad. Excerpted by permission of Anchor Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.