On her thirteenth birthday the German-Jewish refugee girl Anne Frank found amongst her gifts a small notebook, to be used as a diary. Anne was an unassuming teen and didn't really have much to write about. Or she was smarter than the average teen and realised that diaries are parents' little tricks to keep tabs on what their kids are up to and she wasn't telling. In any case, it all starts off pretty dry and less interesting than... oh hell, I can?t think of anything less interesting.
If there were a negative scale for how interesting books are, the first part of Anne Frank's diary wouldn't make the list because no one cared enough.
Sure, Anne and her family had fled Nazi Germany and were now living in Amsterdam; but they were a lot better off than most Jewish refugees, who were largely detained and sent back to Germany. Because, you know, fuck those immigrants taking our jobs and eating our Gefilte Fish.
The Franks, however, owned a business in the Netherlands and could afford a life in relative comfort as well as convince the authorities that it was less trouble all around just to let them stay for a while. So, Emo not having been invented yet, all Anne had to write about was school, her parents not understanding her and what she had for dinner.
Of course, if you flee something like the Third Reich, it might be best to flee to somewhere a bit farther away than the back yard. It wasn?t that the Nazis were particularly interested in the Frank family, you know, other than wanting to kill them on general principle. They just wanted access to the Rotterdam harbour and some other little things like that, and they were kinda dicks about it.
After Germany casually strolled into the Netherlands and took away the three WW1-era rifles and five sharpened toothbrushes the Dutch army had between them, Anne's father figured that it might be good to stay out of sight for a while. So he thought really hard about a hiding place, for about ten minutes. Father Frank's business was housed in a building with a rather large annex behind it and he figured if he put a bookcase in front of the connecting door, the Nazis would never look there because, you know, the Nazis were easily fooled like that.
Anyway, the Germans were rather busy for a while and the Frank family, together with some miscellaneous other concentration-camp avoiders managed to stay hidden until they were betrayed, presumably by a disgruntled employee. Let this be a warning: if you are hiding from Nazis in your office, be sure to give big raises. Or, you know, don't tell everybody.
Anne kept her diary while she was holed up in this hiding place and it speaks volumes about teenage life in pre-war Europe that a daily account of not going outside, not making any sound and not planning a school shooting is more interesting than her pre-war stuff.
After the war, father Frank came home and found that one of the people who had helped them hide had kept his daughter?s diary safe. The rest is, as they say, history. The diary was published, and has since appeared in almost every major language known to man.
More than any other book does it illustrate the horrors of being Jewish under Nazi rule and it serves as a powerful reminder for generations to come.
But still, if you think it's bad enough that your mum noses through your diary...