I was in the 7th grade when my class was required to read The Diary of Anne Frank. I don’t remember much about that experience other than I thought that Anne was a mere child who had to hide in a closet to keep from getting caught by the German Nazis during WWII. My Americentric, late 70’s middle school mind could barely comprehend such a fate. Over the decades, I’ve come to learn much more about Anne Frank and the Secret Annex where she hid.
Turns out that the Annex was bigger than a closet but still inadequate for the multiple families that hid there. But they made do, often fraying each other’s nerves during their 2 years of concealment. Of the 8 living in the Annex, Anne is my favorite. Although each one had their personalities and qualities descriptively recorded by Anne, I’ve become charmed by her alone. She captivated girls and boys with her bubbly personality, boldness, cheekiness, and knack for standing up to bullies. Although Anne could get quite moody, she was full of life and curious about all things. No one would recognize her vivid imagination stirring in the darkness until she was gone.
I often wonder if Anne came to accept saving grace. Is there any recorded text of Anne confessing her faith in her Messiah, Jesus? No, none that I have come across. But there is hope. I discovered The Diary of Anne Frank – The Revised, Critical Edition several years ago. I’ve combed through it again recently, searching for any writing of faith. I have found several! The Franks were Liberal Jews, meaning they did not follow the Orthodox beliefs of the Talmud or attend synagogue regularly. They appeared to be open-minded to others’ beliefs, not chastising nor encouraging religion. This may have been an advantage for Anne to become receptive to her Messiah. I’m going to reference several texts from her diary, noted above by page number, which gives me hope that I will meet Anne in Heaven.
Anne had a prayer life. Her diary mentions multiple times how she would pray to God. It seemed many times she would pray with her father Otto at night (pg 373). Incidentally, I don’t believe Otto ever confessed faith in Jesus. She would pray for her childhood friend Hannah Goslar (Hanneli, nicknamed Lies), whom she lost contact with and didn’t know where she had gone. Anne would pray that the Lord would defend her, tell her that she thinks of her, and give her greater endurance (pg 443). Then, she would pray for the Jews and all of those in need (pg 467).
Incredibly, Anne and Lies discover that they are both incarcerated at Bergen–Belsen at the same time. They met 3 or 4 times at a barbed wire barricade, but they could not see each other because it was stuffed with straw. Lies recalls that Anne was broken then. She believed that both of her parents were dead (of course, we know Otto was not) and her sister, Margot, was near death. They caught up on what had happened to them over the last 2 years. Soon after, Hannah no longer saw her because Anne’s side of the camp was transferred to another section. (Source – annefrank.org – article by Hannah Goslar: ‘God Knows everything, but Anne knows it better.’)
Faith comes through hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Jesus (Romans 10:17). From this, we understand that faith also comes through reading the word. And Anne had a Bible. While listing the interests of all of the inhabitants in the Secret Annex, she includes in her own interests “Bible history” (pg 673). Wow! I believe she had a Catholic Bible because in her diary, she wonders how long it will take (reading) before she meets the bathing Suzanna (pg 667). I find this amusing. Of course, a 14-year-old girl would be most interested in a bathing woman being spied upon by a couple of suitors.
This story is in Daniel chapter 13, a non-canonical chapter contained in the Catholic Bible. So, if this is the case, this Bible would have also had the New Testament, meaning she at least had the opportunity to have read about the saving grace of the gospel! From this fact, we might expect to see more evidence of statements about the understanding of scripture. I believe I have found more.
We are told in Romans 1:20 that men are without excuse for not understanding God by proof of what has been made. Anne says something curious along these lines, and I quote: “I’ve found that there is always some beauty left – in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you. Look at these things, then you find yourself again, and God, and then you regain your balance…. He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery!” (pg 542).
Additionally, in her short story called “Cady’s Life,” she creates a conversation between a boy and a girl attempting to determine certainty that God exists. When Cady proposes the question, the boy (Hans) replies, “If you’re asking me who or what God is, I have only this to say: No one can tell you who God is or what He looks like because no one knows. But if you’re asking what God is, my answer would be: Take a look around you, at the flowers, the trees, the animals, the people, and then you’ll know what God is. Those wondrous things that live and die and reproduce themselves, all that we refer to as nature – that’s God. He made them all just the way they are, and that’s the only image of Him you need” (pg 822/230).
Pretty adept for a 13-year-old girl when written, right?! When I first read her diary at that same age, where was my understanding of God? It did not compare.
I find more of her understanding of scripture for the Jews here. She writes, “Who has inflicted this upon us? Who has made us Jews different from all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now? It is God that has made us as we are, but it will be God, too, who will raise us up again. If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left, when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed, will be held up as an example” (pg 622).
I compare this to the words of Isaiah 49:6 – “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the end of the earth” (NIV).
This kid was going deep in understanding, and no one was lifting her up in faith. What a tragedy that not one Dutchman offered to come to the Secret Annex and explain the gospel to them. What a captive audience they would have been. I’m sure no one shared the gospel with them because Anne would have eloquently captured everyone’s responses to that, including her own. Unfortunately, their greatest champions in the Annex, Miep and Henk Gies, who risked their lives as protectors daily, never placed their own faith in Jesus as their Savior. (Source – Anne Frank Remembered – The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family, pg 241.) How sad.
One more example of why I have hope that we will see Anne in Heaven is when she was complaining about Peter’s talk about such things of faith. Peter was 3-4 years her senior, with whom she shared her only kiss(es) with a boy. She says, “He has no religion, scoffs at Jesus Christ, and swears, using the name of God. Although I’m not orthodox either, it still hurts every time I see how deserted, how scornful, and how poor he really is. People who have a religion should be glad, for not everyone has the gift of believing in heavenly things” (pg 706).
I sure hope Anne considered believing in Jesus as her Messiah as one of those “heavenly things.”
To end, I would just like to mention a couple of Anne’s hopes, dreams, and fears from her manuscripts. A famous quote from Anne is, “I want to live on, even after death” (April 1944).
She posthumously captured the world. Her diary has sold over 15 million copies and has been turned into plays and films (pg 74). It’s too overwhelming for me to grasp. But I guess if this were not the case, it wouldn’t have been on the curriculum of Ashley (OH) Middle School’s requirements in 1978.
Anne was frightened by what was happening to her people for just being Jews: “I feel wicked sleeping in a warm bed while my dearest friends have been knocked down or have fallen into a gutter somewhere out in the cold night. I get frightened when I think of close friends who have been delivered into the hands of the cruelest brutes that walk the earth. And all because they are Jews!” (pg 336). My, how some things never change.
How ironic that she references this children’s book that probably was given to her at the beginning of her hiding – Daisy’s Mountain Holiday. She says, “I was deeply moved by the story about a girl who was rich and yet so good and who died at the end, but that was inevitable and precisely what makes it so beautiful” (pg 206).
I couldn’t find anything else on this book except that it was published in June 1942. A bit grim for a children’s book? But grim is, in fact, our world.
Perhaps you or someone you love is searching for truth and light in our increasingly darkening world. Don’t let them become a tragedy as well. I’m sure that Anne was searching, and I hope she discovered and confessed the words of Romans 10:9-10 in the end. Perhaps it was in her last dying moments, sick, cold, and all alone (Margot preceded her in death). Maybe she found beauty in all of her suffering if it brought her finally to her glory in the Lord Jesus Christ. As for me, He is my Glory and my Messiah in whom there is no other way to the Father.
Anne, where are you?