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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

June 18, 2003

Anne Frank's Diary at the Holocaust Memorial in DC
It had not occurred to me that the Diary had never before been to America. Here is an instructive take on the effect her writing usually has on its readers:
But to read the entire entry for July 15, 1944, as Bloomfield did, is to realize Anne's painful struggle, her ideals and faith battling fear and desperation. In the next breath after that famous line, she wrote, "I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us, too."

Says Bloomfield, "It's over a month after D-Day, a moment when this child should be filled with hope and yet she is not." Anne called her internal tension "that enormous gap." The girl who pressed her face to a window crack to breathe in the outside world did want to believe good would prevail, yet demanded to know, "Who has inflicted this on us?"

"She's not a philosopher, but she's trying to reflect on this mystery," says Lawrence Graver, an Anne Frank scholar at Williams College. In the American telling of Anne's story, Graver said, this mystery is often overwhelmed by myth and sentiment, and given, in effect, a happy ending -- Anne lives on through her diary, becoming "a ubiquitous emblem of hope." This allows her diary to be read almost as an uplifting introduction to the systematic murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust, which Sagan cautions is not necessarily "the fair or the right lesson to draw."
Cross-posted at Prolegomena.