In a wartime nightmare of starvation, brutality and death, Anne Frank?s courage and compassion made her an international legacy. During the more than fifty years since World War Two and the Holocaust, few stores have achieved the mythic quality of Anne Frank?s diary, and few accounts have so deeply affected millions of people around the world (Ritter, 1998, pg. 51). At the age of thirteen, Anne began writing a diary which would become not only a valuable historical testimony of World War Two but gave a voice to all the countless Jewish peoples who perished under Hitler?s reign (Hoffman, Online, 2011). Today the name of Anne Frank arouses thoughts of idealism, optimism and above all greatness. Streets, schools, youth centres bear her name, just as public statues, commemorative coins and stamps bear her image. Youth villages, forests and foundations have been named after her. Requiems, cantatas, poems and songs have been composed. Public figures of every kind from politicians to religious leaders regularly evoke her name and quote lines from her book. In one of her last and most quoted diary entries, Anne wrote that ?in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart? (Frank, 1995, pg.57). Such faith shames the revisionists and is a reminder that Anne Frank?s life and work represent a triumph of the human spirit of life over the purveyors of death. Anne Frank?s steadfast courage in the face of adversity, highlighted in every page of her diary, is undeniable proof of how this remarkable young woman is truly the greatest individual of the twentieth century.
In the short span of sixty years, Anne Frank has been transformed into a legendary figure, a symbol of the Holocaust and a metaphor for victims of genocide. For people all over the world, Anne Frank, the vivacious, intelligent Jewish girl with a crooked smile and dark eyes, has become the "human face of the Holocaust"(Ritter, 1998, pg. 41). Soviet novelist, Ilya Ehrenburg maintained that Anne Frank?s voice was not that of a sage or a poet but that of an ordinary little girl, concluding that her "one voice speaks for six million? (Hoffman, Online, 2011). At the opening of the Anne Frank Exhibition, Ambassador Douglas Kmiec, concurred with Ehrenburg?s view that Anne Frank?s diary has clearly become a metaphor for Jewish suffering. Kmiec explicitly acknowledges that the diary of Anne Frank gives names to the six million persecuted Jews who perished, ?it makes an otherwise incomprehensible crime capable of being felt personally and tangentially? (Kmiec, 2011, Online). Some however disagree, believing that the life of Anne Frank and her diary is over exaggerated (Metselaar, 2007). According to these detractors, Anne was just one of the one and a half million Jewish children who were murdered throughout from 1939 until 1945. World War Two historian, Jacob Boas, holds the belief that only when all the stories of Holocaust survivors are told, then and only then can society begin to understand the brutally and terror inflicted by the Nazi?s (Boas, 1995, pg. 26). Primo Levi, a famous Italian writer who, like Otto Frank, Anne?s father, survived Auschwitz, discusses this subject within one of his bestselling novels. Primo Levi clings to the idea that maybe Anne Frank was meant to inspire the world in a more harmonious tone than all the other countless victims whose names remain unknown. Levi theorizes ?that if we had to share, and could share, the suffering of each one of them, we should be unable to go on living? (Levi, 1988, pg. 54). Whilst Boas? and Levi?s views may seem opposing, they in actual fact complement one another. Both opinions implicitly concur on the irony that if all the stories of the Holocaust were told, an accurate depiction of the conditions would be historically documented; however such knowledge would be almost too horrific to comprehend. The representative opinions of Soviet writer, Ilya Ehrenburg, distinctive historian, Jacob Boas and Primo Levi clearly demonstrate how Anne Frank has become one of the most significant individuals of the twentieth century. Anne Frank and her literary masterpiece have been universally recognized as a powerful expression of the fate of European Jews during the Holocaust, ultimately validating Anne?s entitlement to the label of the greatest individual of the twentieth century.
Of the millions who suffered, a child?s voice is perhaps the most invaluable; Anne Frank?s firsthand account of the Holocaust