When I was younger I was an avid reader. I would always have a book in my hand and no matter how short the journey I would bring a book with me. When we went on holiday to France, we would visit the library beforehand and I would max out my library card, stocking up on paperback adventures to pass the long car journey. I simply gobbled up books and couldn't wait to go on my next adventure, to castles in the sky or under the sea palaces.
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One day, I came across The Diary of Anne Frank. I must have been about 11 or so and by that stage was aware of the World Wars that had been before, but didn't really know a whole lot. Anne's diary really opened my eyes to what had actually happened during WWII and the atrocities and prejudice that had befallen communities, all through the eyes of a girl just slightly older than me. The amazing thing about Anne's diary is how honest her writing is, even now you feel like she could be your best pal, speaking about everything from boys and friends, to issues with her family and fitting in. I remember being completely thrown when I got to the final pages and the diary just ended. Anne was completely alive in my mind, as though I had just stumbled across her diary one day and she would walk back into the room to claim it. It was hard to believe that her life changed and ended so quickly.
The Diary of Anne Frank also encouraged me to keep my own diary for a while, I even addressed it as Dear Kitty, just like Anne. It's nice to go back to that stage of my life but my diary is filled when the immature ramblings of an 11 year old and you think about how mature Anne must have been, how scared she must have been and how brave she and her family were. She was a completely normal girl, from a normal family who horrible things happened to, in addition to millions of others, but she puts a voice and a face to all those who lost their lives and her story will always and must always be relevant. She is still alive through the words in her diary and a reminder of everything that we can't allow to happen again.
To mark the 70 years since Anne's death in a concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen, the Anne Frank Trust UK have launched a campaign called #NotSilent. At a time when many were being forced into silence, Anne kept writing and keeping a record of everything that was happening, refusing to be silenced. Everyone is being asked to spend 60 seconds reading aloud a section of the diary on or after the 14th April, to honour Anne and all those who lost their lives by speaking out loud and not forgetting what has happened in the past.
With an alarming increase in prejudice, violence and antisemitism over the past few months, covering news channels, unfortunately it really is still so relevant. We should all try and do our bit to not be silent and speak up. You can find out more about the campaign and how you can become involved here.