Courageous People: Anne Frank

Courageous People: Anne Frank

Condemned to die, for being Jewish

With few exceptions, a diary’s content is meant to be kept private, no matter how intriguing the details might seem. Nonetheless, when Anne Frank’s journaling was originally published in 1947, the historical context, from which her impressions were chronicled, took on a personal note. Not only did her diary emerge as one of the most important pieces of Holocaust literature, she also, posthumously, became a stark symbol of Nazi genocide.  

Born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1929, Anne Frank was raised by liberal Jewish parents. On many accounts, they were a hard-working, educated couple, who imparted their love for books to their daughters. After the family relocated to the Netherlands in the years leading up to the war, both Anne and her older sister Margot would continue to nurture their literary interests

As the situation steadily worsened for the Jewish community, books would become Anne’s escape. Accordingly, this would lead to her passion for writing. When she was given a diary for her thirteenth birthday, she already knew that her thoughts would spread beyond the pages of the book. With Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Netherlands in 1942, the systematic deportation of Dutch Jews had begun.  Consequently, Anne’s father arranged for his family to emigrate. Unfortunately, the Frank’s application remained unprocessed and the family was forced into hiding.

Not surprisingly, as the war dragged on, a distinct maturation process can be traced through Anne’s writing. Initial, juvenile accounts of everyday  activities, evolve to profound philosophical questions. Ultimately, Anne not only reveals the complexities of confinement and discusses her deprivation, but also raises the issues of existence and the complexities of humanity. On a thought-provoking level, she also engages with her sense of identity as a German Jewish girl, forced into hiding.

Unlike other diary chroniclers, Anne aspired to have her accounts published. In doing so, she wanted the outside world to connect with her own brutal reality. The inappropriateness of the situation she describes, critically approaches the way people treat each other. Moreover, our own tolerance and acceptance of others is called into question. 

Like many pieces of literature, Anne’s pages are meant to be re-read. Although originally, her thoughts belonged only to the young writer, the diary’s pages now serve as a countless reminder that the atrocities Nazi victims had to endure can never be repeated.

Courageous People: Malala Yousafzai

A SCHOOLGIRL'S BLOG EXPOSES TALIBAN INSURGENTS' CRIPPLING IDEOLOGIES AS THEY INVADE SWAT VALLEY

In response to the Taliban’s militant edict, Malala Yousafzai began blogging about changes imposed on women under the insurgents. The whole world ignored that the Taliban had banned girls from attending schools. Malala exposed these and other atrocities in her BBC blog. Her schoolgirl descriptions caught the attention of a New York Times reporter. He transformed Malala’s reports into a documentary raising further public awareness for the injustices.

The inhabitants of Mingora -Malala’s hometown- left their homes when military intervention opposed the Talibans. Malala’s family members separated and became displaced . The Taliban’s hostility, forced her father move to Peshawar. Malala went to live with relatives. Despite no longer blogging for the BBC, Malala continued to campaign against the ideological aggressors. Her father was also speaking out against the Taliban in another part of the country. In doing so, their voices met and Malala’s father became the prime inspiration behind his daughter’s decision to pursue a career in politics.

Later, her family reunited and Malala could return to school. Her blogging identity was not a secret anymore and she became more of a strategic disturbance to the Taliban. Malala could not hide her identity any longer. She received numerous death threats. Soon tragedy came: Malala was shot in the head while going home after school. 

Miraculously, Malala did not die. After a difficult rehabilitation in the UK, she was able to return to her studies. Despite the attack, she continued to excel academically and continued to promote girls‘ education.

The Nobel Peace Price

On her 16th birthday, Malala gave a mind-altering speech at the United Nations. One year later, she received the Nobel Peace Prize Award for her fight against the suppression of young people and for the right of education to all children.

The reach of Malala’s blog was truly unprecedented. Never before had anything as simple as a blog broken down so many linguistic, religious and national barriers. This courageous young girl that kept exposing her drama turned into an example for the entire world. Thanks to her blog, she had ignited a global movement equipped only with words. Through her dialogue she fought for empowerment. She was always convinced that the return to peace would be possible. Militant forces just had to put their weapons down and „invest in books, not bullets“.

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