Recently a friend shared with me a short video clip called. “The Only Existing Video Footage of Anne Frank.” The video is only twenty seconds long. It gives the viewer a brief snap shot of a street in Amsterdam during 1941. It shows people walking down the street, a bicyclist, a couple who was just married. Then the camera pans upwards to a nondescript balcony. From the second the lens sets its sight on the balcony, one immediately recognizes the profile of this famous young girl. Anne Frank leans over the railing, then looks behind her as someone from within the house beckons her. Her unmistakable ringlets cascade as she looks down toward the street. She is not on the film for more than two seconds. This silent film clip is the only known footage of her.
She has become an icon, a cultural phenomena, an important bookend of an era full of the suffering and murder of countless Jewish families. Anne did not survive the war, in fact her father was the only survivor of the group that hid out in the secret annex. After being liberated, her father, Otto Frank, left Auschwitz in search of his family. Upon learning his wife has perished, he returned to Amsterdam with the hope of finding his two young daughters. He finds, of course, that they too have died. A friend gives him Anne’s writings and diary. Otto then works to fufill her one wish: to have her diary published.
It is interesting that when Anne Frank left this Earth, she likely had no notion that she would become one of the most recognizable historical figures of WWII. Even in 2011, The Diary of Anne Frank is widely read. Children around the world study her diary as part of their school’s curriculum. Initially the diary was written about daily life before they went into hiding. Afterwards, Anne used the diary to gain a little piece of mind. Her often childlike innocence parallels valid thoughts that maybe they would not make it out alive. It was not until much later, when she heard a radio broadcast advertising the need for wartime diaries that Anne even considered the diary’s publication.
In th beginning, Anne Frank had no other intention but to write for herself. What happens after is history, through fate and the perserverance of her father, the diary was made into a book, but before all that happened; Anne Frank was just a young girl with a diary. As the war began to impede, in 1942 when she began writing, Anne Frank was Anne Frank, not the Anne Frank. The impact of her words have likely gone farther than she could ever imagine and show that everything you ever do or say could have an impact beyond your wildest dreams or imagination. It is the so called butterfly effect in action, and to think, on July 22, in 1941 the family of the married couple by chance caught the only footage of this young girl, not knowing the mark she would make in the future. Like the brief footage in this silent film, we would never hear her speak, yet her words and spirit would one day enter our hearts and never leave.