“People who have a religion should be glad, for not everyone has the gift of believing in heavenly things. You don’t necessarily even have to be afraid of punishment after death; purgatory, hell, and heaven are things that a lot of people can’t accept, but still a religion, it doesn’t matter which, keeps a person on the right path. It isn’t the fear of God but the upholding of one’s own honor and conscience. How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realizing it you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time. Anyone can do this, it costs nothing and is certainly very helpful. Whoever doesn’t know it must learn and find by experience that: ‘A quiet conscience makes one strong!’” —Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl (1952)
On an unrecorded date 70 years ago this month, 15-year-old Anne Frank and her older sister Margot died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Before she perished, Anne told childhood friend Nanette Konig, also at the Nazi death camp, that after the war she planned to use her diary entries as the basis for a book.
Anne did not survive, but her diary, of course, did. It is the extraordinary record of a girl moving into adulthood under the most harrowing conditions—and, along the way, developing a powerful conscience. The diary also stands as a rebuke to the forces of intolerance. In her time, they were Nazis; in ours, even in the Europe that once paid dearly for its acquiescence to evil, anti-Semitism continues to spread across national borders.
Anne “would be very happy with all the attention she is getting,” Ms. Konig told an interviewer from London’s The Independent this week. “She always wanted to be seen. She wanted to be heard. She was full of life and this would be right in her, what she would have liked to happen."