There are so many other families that went through the same thing, why is Anne Frank's story the most important?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the introduction for Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Eleanor Roosevelt says of the book the following:

". . . it is one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read . . . These are the thoughts and expressions of a young girl living under extraordinary conditions, and for this reason her diary tells us much about ourselves and about our own children."

This quote helps to explain that Anne Frank's story isn't the most important one--it doesn't overshadow any other families' suffering during World War II--but it is a comprehensive and in-depth view of what many other families like Anne's did suffer.

Anne's account encompasses two major years of the war, including the time leading up to the summer her family went into hiding. No other account of the war features the daily progress of the war from a primary source's standpoint. Nor had there been such a detailed account of Jews in hiding prior to the publishing of the book. Anne's was the first diary to be published in Holland in the 1940s after the war. Many other accounts didn't surface until much later because survivors either didn't want to relive the Holocaust, or they were too busy rebuilding their lives to write such books. Slowly but surely more accounts of the Holocaust surfaced over the twentieth century, but Anne's is one of the first, and one of the best accounts, that captures life in hiding in virtual real time as far as the war is concerned. The book isn't about Anne remembering details of being in hiding from years after the fact--it is the actual account. Information written down within a day or two of an event happening is more reliable than recalling it from years, or even months, after the fact. Memories can be distorted by time and emotions, but a diary solidifies information in a timely and more authentic manner. That is why Anne's diary is so important. Not only does it uncover what life was like in hiding for many Jews during World War II, but it is a comprehensive, detailed, and primary source of valid information that can be treasured and learned from for years to come. 


Further Reading:
Read the study guide:
The Diary of a Young Girl

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