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The Resilience of Anne Frank

 Anne Frank died 70 years ago this month.

Anne Frank has become such a phenomenon that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Her name and her story have come to mean many things to so many people. There is the diary that so beautifully captures coming of age. There is of course the brilliant writer that was murdered, symbolizing the losses of the Holocaust.

And then there is the Anne that was just a girl. She was, after all, only 15 when she died. In many ways she was a typical teenager: she felt misunderstood, fought with her mother, navigated her sexuality, fought for privacy, discerned much of her identity, moved through several crushes in the course of 2 years and mocked those around her.

Trauma haunted her from many sides:

Hiding from people whose less-than-secret plan is to kill you, dependent on outsiders for everything, not knowing who to trust, keeping quiet and still for hours every day, crammed with 8 other people in a tiny space, never going outside, listening to bombs dropped around and burglaries into the building all while trapped, the stressors she endured are incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t lived through something like that.

But she did more than endure. She blossomed. She matured deeply, took the deprivation as an opportunity for ruthless self-examination and she wrote and revised. While some argue that it was her untimely death and novelty of experience that led to the diary’s success. However, her extensive revisions to prepare the diary for publication and her ability to capture both the intimacy and scope of her experience point to a similarity with Elie Wiesel. He too was a teenager and he too wrote a beautiful memoir, Night
, but he survived. His memoir was widely read for it’s brilliance and he continued to produce and had a prolific career as writer and speaker. I think she would have too.

The following quotes reveal for themselves the nature of her resilience. Perhaps if someone can internalize some part of these beliefs, they can help others be resilient.  All quotes are from the only book she ever wrote, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

I know what I want, I have a goal, an opinion, I have a religion and love. Let me be myself and then I am satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inward strength and plenty of courage.

Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is! 

It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. 

I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.

The Resilience of Anne Frank

Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

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APA Reference
Staggs, S. (2015). The Resilience of Anne Frank. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Mar 2015
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