February 25th, 2013

Anne Frank: are people good at heart?

[NOTE: This is a repeat of a previous post.]

I’m currently reading Francine Prose’s Anne Frank: the book, the life, the afterlife. It’s about the process by which Anne Frank wrote and then rewrote her diary, with an eye to its ultimate publication, and how her father edited her two versions into a third, the one the world ended up knowing. Then Broadway and Hollywood got into the act, as well as writers such as Philip Roth, until the diary and its message had morphed quite a bit from the original (or, more properly, originals).

Most of us have read Anne Frank’s diary, or at least parts of it, in some form or other, and even those of us who did not are probably familiar with at least a few of its quotes, the most famous of which may be Anne’s observation: “in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

It’s instructive to look at the quote once again, embedded in its original context. When we do, we find it to be far more complex and dark than it appears when as a single famous sentence standing alone, just as Anne Frank’s achievements as a writer and thinker are far more complex than the simplifications popular culture have worked on her diary. Remember as you read the following that she was only fifteen years old when she wrote it [emphasis mine]:

Anyone who claims that the older ones have a more difficult time here certainly doesn’t realize to what extent our problems weigh down on us, problems for which we are probably much too young, but which thrust themselves upon us continually, until, after a long time, we think we’ve found a solution, but the solution doesn’t seem able to resist the facts which reduce it to nothing again. That’s the difficulty in these times: ideals, dreams, and cherished hopes rise within us, only to meet the horrible truth and be shattered.

It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually turning into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too. I can feel the sufferings of millions, and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.

Anne Frank seems to take the long view. Hers is a consciously willed optimism that takes into account some of the greatest horrors the world has ever known, and includes her own untimely death, which she correctly foresees. Whether the peace and tranquility she ultimately envisions are temporary or permanent, and whether they are of this earth or beyond it, her message has nothing of the innocence or simplicity of a trusting child, although it has often been portrayed that way.

26 Responses to “Anne Frank: are people good at heart?”

  1. holmes Says:

    A beautiful writer at such a young age. We are naming are soon-to-be-born daugher after her.

    But the answer is: no. People are not good at heart. It is why the West, and especially Western liberals, were so shocked to discover the holocaust. It was inconceivable that another Western (and white) people could do such a thing.

    You would think they would learn from such mistakes re: the Jihad, but progressivism is based in nothing if not blind optimism about the human race.

  2. artfldgr Says:

    Out of curiosity…
    did you ever read “dear god i wanted to live”
    or any other perspective than the monopoly Jewish view?

    As she always pops up, and i have yet to hear you read any alternative at all. as if she is the only one (which i know you said she isn’t), or that her view is important (when a lot of it is not valid and hagiographical).

    after so many years of my claiming things were not read… did you read it?

    your right… reading one heavily politicized romanticized leftist approved thing is the only way to go… it has everything you need, why bother with others? why even Acknowledge non Jewish things?

    its been a big bone of contention that there is no weeping for the other 6 million who are barely mentioned… to the point where this behavior has garnered greater hate towards the victims…

    you can see where this lack of sympathy has garnered a lack of sympathy towards their nation, and in terms of Palestine!!!

    After all, how does one negate the message that only X is important and to hell with all the others?

    how many times are we going to rehash a naive girl whose majority of living was in an attic? and whose deep[est most celebrated thoughts from the left are that she discovered she had a vagina?

    inst it about time we heard from someone else than a manufactured thing? you even point out its propagandist and more…

    its a huge in your face form of Soto Sotomayer saying that only X can really understand it…

    I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.
    Sonia Sotomayor

    well yeah… it required the main stream media, and the Jewish press and Jewish academics to push all other stories to the back, and push her forward over and over and over and over. (of which they required your help too, and you gave it, by pushing others to the back, and this is all we do talk about… as no one reads any others)

    how about hearing from someone else?

    how about someone who went through something MORE relevant than a Jewish pogrom (or are we in a Jewish pogrom?)… but rather a societies take over in which the SAME THINGS HAPPENED to everyone

    there is a constant element here of, “i am not Jewish, that crap don’t happen to me”. or that it didn’t happen to Christians too… or others!!!!

    and THAT is manufactured by everyone towing the party line of not deviating from the proper party stories, and inserting others which are not socially approved. Anne is approved, others are not.

    Anne turns this into something other than what it is
    and THATS why Anne is approved and others aren’t
    and good girls and boys dont deviate, even subconciously from that

    ie. keep playing with the approved toys and see where it gets you!!!

    Never be wise enough to ask

    Anne Franks serves a very important political point which is why she is the only one.

    her point is to repair the damage done by Molotov Ribbentrop

    that is, to help divide the two who are the same, into two that seem different… to read her and not the others is to not learn in detail what the other was like.

    and you have yet to realize that your not being taken over by a defunct racist version of socialist… your being taken over by the winners whose reality and personality and thinking is revealed in the stories about THEM that you don’t read.
    [edited for length n-n]

  3. RandomThoughts Says:

    Oh for God’s sake (and I mean that literally as well as figuratively) artfldgr you really ARE a misanthropist as well as a misogynist.

    Do you even bother to garner the point of Neo’s posts, or are they simply springboards for your own interminable polemic rants and repeated jabs at her? Can’t you just message her privately and spare the rest of us?

  4. artfldgr Says:

    reading the book description sounds like the press writring about obama

    In June, 1942, Anne Frank received a red-and-white checked diary for her thirteenth birthday, just weeks before she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic. For two years, with ever-increasing maturity, Anne crafted a memoir that has become one of the most compelling, intimate, and important documents of modern history – grappling with the unfolding events of World War II, until the hidden attic was raided in August, 1944. But the diary of Anne Frank, argues Francine Prose, is as much a work of art as an historical record. Through close reading, she marvels at the teenaged Frank’s skillfully natural narrative voice, at her finely tuned dialogue and ability to turn living people into characters. And Prose addresses what few of the diary’s millions of readers may know: this book is a deliberate work of art. During her last months in hiding, Anne Frank furiously revised and edited her work, crafting a piece of literature that she hoped would be read by the public after the war. Read it has been. Few books have been as influential for so long, and Prose thoroughly investigates the diary’s unique afterlife: the obstacles and criticism Otto Frank faced in publishing his daughter’s words; the controversy surrounding the diary’s “Broadway” and film adaptations, and the 1950’s social mores that reduced it to a tale of adolescent angst and love;

    the poor girl. she was a feminist leftist tour de force cut short by the evil white racist men..


    the Evil that was defeated, was defeated in 1945 or so
    which meant that the writings of Anne could be published… openly.

    but the writings of others… well, they were still under the thumb of the soviets… and so, there were no books printed on this…

    it wasn’t until 1980s that the writings of similar could be smuggled out of the same world, but one that wasn’t defeated.
    [edited for length n-n]

  5. parker Says:

    Well, some people are good hearted, perhaps the majority; but I think we have enough evidence from history and the present day to concluded some people are evil hearted.

  6. holmes Says:

    If I may,

    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
    12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
    13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
    “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
    14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
    17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
    18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes

    God can do good things through sinful people, but Christian thought precludes the idea of innate human goodness.

  7. holmes Says:

    That is not to say that Man is without hope, as Anne Frank alludes to above.

  8. artfldgr Says:


    yeah i do…

    but what are we really going to learn from a purile question asked by a 14 year old in a box, and contorted and stretched by 50 years of academics?

    oh. and this being the 4th or 5th time of the resurection of the same thing, with the same non end, and no really new material in the fish bowl..

    its anne, and only anne…
    and i for one would like to discuss more than the same old same old of the past 50 years in which we see them squeezing blood that never existed from a literal turnip in a box!!!!

    hows that?

    oh. and thanks for calling me names such as that.
    you and others who do that, tell me i should have sided with Obama and his ilk against you and yours.

    unlike you, i had a choice…
    ever think that?

    and like an idiot i chose the side of good, to be with the morons who call those who want them to have great lives, a misanthrope.

    is that what you think i am for standing up for the OTHER 6 million? you know. the people like my family, who no one cares about going to the ovens either… or the camps as they were caught between two..

    ie. when i mention my family died there, everyone thinks i am Jewish, then i have to explain, no, not only jews died but others did too…

    not only Jews got tattoos…

    but you see… when i point that out, what i get is that i am a misanthrope…

    there are over 5000 titles for anne

    do you thknk she really needs you or i to stand up for her? do you think anne will be forgotten in 100 years?

    or do you think the peopel who we are erasing are going to be forgotten? yeah, i am a misanthrope who hates people so much he wants you to remember the people… and know the history, and not have it happen to you
    [edited for length n-n]

  9. artfldgr Says:

    by the way…
    anne frank is a feminist hero..

    Anne Frank. A courageous young woman whose diary became, after her death at the hands of the Nazis, one of the most influential nonfiction works of the century.

    By Theme: Feminism
    (The) Adventures of Cancer Bitch by S.L. Wisenberg

    As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto ed. by Joan Reardon

    Biting the Moon: A Memoir of Feminism and Motherhood by Joanne S. Frye

    (The) Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

    see her on the feminist list?
    though i have yet to read how she was a feminist!!!

    General Women & Feminism Articles

    Anne Frank’s Many Sisters by Abigail E. Disney

    dont you even wonder what they are using to link anne frank and feminism?

    well, you might find this freaky interesting…

    Last week’s Taliban attack on 15-year old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai was a jolting reminder of the strange paradox facing the adolescent girl of the 21st century. No one elicits the paroxysms of sympathy and adoration the way a victimized adolescent girl does, as we saw last week in the global outpouring of grief for what was inflicted on Malala. At the same time, it would be difficult to find a more endangered class of human at this particular historical moment. For all the visible sorrow at the fate of Malala, adolescent girls around the world nevertheless get raped, beaten, stolen, sold, mutilated and brutalized in hideous numbers. Even as money flows into charities to support girls’ education, politicians boot the adolescent girl around like a rugby ball in a closely fought match. They argue about what is right for her to do, not to do, to say, or to wear without so much as a passing reference to what she herself might think about any of it.

    [edited for length n-n]

  10. Doom Says:

    As much as I have tried to not believe. With what I have seen. Knowing what happened to her? I still believe in what she said. It’s just that people can be wrong, misguided, and fearful, too. But if they have the power, like the people who put her up and many like them, at great risk, many will. It’s just not always a thing of this world.

    It kills me, sometimes, but I think she was right. But more, it isn’t a message for ‘them’, ‘us’, you, or such, it’s a gift for me… all of us, individually. A choice? One of THE choices? A hard one. And, as you suggested Neo, not a simple thing, or a child thing, but a very mature, beautiful, thing.

  11. Roy Says:

    Neo, is there any way to put a “skip to end” button in front of artfldgr’s posts. It’s wearing out my scroll wheel.

  12. LAG Says:

    Anne was a committed Rousseauian alive in a world that proved the truth of Hobbes characterization of humanity. That combination can get you killed. Better to be a Hobbesian. You’ll be pleasantly surprised more often than not.

  13. JaneLK Says:

    Neo, I second Roy’s suggestion as well as the responses of others. The whole essence of your thoughtful post has been flushed down the toilet by the long-winded internal dialogue posted as comments by Mr. “A.” With all due respect…

  14. parker Says:

    “The expurgation of the clitoris..”

    I was under the impression that ‘feminists’ were all about the exaltation of the clitoris over the penis. Color me an extremely pale shade of pink in my obvious ignorance.

  15. parker Says:

    Artfldgr, I forgot to add that you should buy a ticket and go to the site of Bergen-Belsen and piss & dance on her unknown grave. You have stepped over the line into the land of totally creepy.

  16. M J R Says:

    I and others have commented on the artfldgr situation/imposition before, but neo’s the landlord, and I am happy to be included in the neo community, regardless.

    Me? — I just scroll past this individual’s seemingly endless meanderings. But since the subject’s come up again, I will happily reiterate my concurrence with the sentiments of both Roy (9:09 pm) and JaneLK (9:42 pm).

    And I will hope neo takes note.

    But it’s her blog, she’s the landlord, and [loop back up to the middle of the initial sentence above].

  17. OlderandWheezier Says:

    I’m of the opinion that Nazi Germany and other other such chapters in human history have given us a grim answer to the basic question about human nature.

    What will a man do if he can be assured that, at least for the foreseeable future, he will be able to get away with it?

    One can attribute the endless violence in urban neighborhoods, or the mutual genocide between warring third world neighbors, to frustration and hatred borne of hopelessness or ignorance. But the Holocaust was carried out in a civilized highly industrial nation, implemented by those who had gained absolute sway and tacitly endorsed by a majority of citizens who chose to turn a blind eye.

    My views are pretty simplistic, and I tend to paint with too broad a brush. But it does seem to me that those who claim to believe most strongly in an innate goodness are the same folks who care more about whether our schools are helping children to have a positive self-image and learn how to “share”, instead of whether those same students are receiving a comprehensive education in math, sciences, etc. They also seem to me to be the ones more likely to support an increasing government role in protecting us from ourselves.

    It also strikes me that those who claim to be the most caring are the same folks who become the most virulent towards those with whom they disagree, even to the point of wishing the worst on those who have passed away.

    There’s a growing misconception that equates feeling sorry for someone (or being glued to the television when disaster strikes someplace else) with actually caring. And media does its best to feed this idea with its grotesquely out of proportion coverage (Trayvon Martin, e.g.). But for the most part we’re no more involved than if we slow down as we drive by a nasty traffic accident, in order to get a better glimpse.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    Artfldgr and others:

    I was busy all day today and evening and didn’t have a chance to look at the comments till now, so I was unable to do my usual editing of comments for length till now. I think that would have prevented some of the problem, had I been able to do so.

    I will also point out that we have passed this way before. I mentioned that this post is actually a repost. If you go to the comments section of the original post, you will find that a great many of the points in Artfldgr’s comments in the present thread were made by him back then as well. Many people responded at that time (including me), and there was a great deal of back and forth.

    So anyone interested (including, of course, Artfldgr) can take a look there and not have to repeat it all again here. I especially refer, if anyone’s interested, to the following comments I made on that original thread four years ago: this, this, this, this, and this.

  19. Ymarsakar Says:

    Which is another way of saying that the state of one’s thoughts has not changed at all since 4 years ago. Whether that is good or not is a different topic.

    The only thing that makes us equal are death and taxes. And we know taxes aren’t equal and probably never will be. For example, Hollywood and Democrat billionaires don’t exactly pay for their fair share of transforming America.

    So the only way to equalize humans is through death. Or in other words, the conflict of war. And if war was so horrible it could shatter the dreams and beliefs of Westerners in their own Western civilization, then perhaps that civilization wasn’t worth much to begin with.

  20. JohnC Says:

    I visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam a couple of decades ago. Very moving. I visited Dachau outside of Munich during the same trip. Stating the obvious, the evil that ordinary and not so ordinary people are capable of – either through passive acquiesce or active aggression – is personified in both places. I’d like to believe that people are essentially good and maybe most are on an individual basis, but the historical record of group behavior is not so good.

    Speaking of one-to-one basis, I resolved a long time ago never again to read a word of A___’s rambling angry rants and screeds. Nothing there for me. Nada. Zero.

  21. Richard Aubrey Says:

    People may be good at heart. But most of them are not going to get down and dirty in time to prevent the those who are not from doing their thing.
    Eventually, the good-at-heart did. Too late for many. Which brings us to the concept of pre-emptive down and dirty, usually necessary before the reality that most people can accept–military aggression, death camps–as necessary get up momentum.
    Somebody fiddled the ration cards for the Franks, taking a horrid risk. Hope they’re remembered someplace.

  22. parker Says:

    “I especially refer, if anyone’s interested, to the following comments I made on that original thread four years ago: this, this, this, this, and this.”

    About 3 years ago I stumbled upon this blog and instantly felt it was a place of great interest and for the most part (90+%) a place of interesting comments. I simply felt at ‘home’. The patience of the blog mistress is amazing. I’m not a jew, and I have very little understanding of jewish traditions of tolerance, but if you are typical then you are a champion that deserves an all expenses paid trip to speak to the world from Jerusalem.

  23. parker Says:

    “People may be good at heart. But most of them are not going to get down and dirty in time to prevent the those who are not from doing their thing.”

    This raises a point I have tried to get my more liberal, anti-2nd neighbors to understand. I ask them what would you do if a mob was coming down the street to kill the kikes, bash the queers, or lynch the niggers; and what if the mob was lead by the county sheriff? Their response is usually that they would phone higher authority. I respond that I would open fire. This produces total silence and averted eyes.

  24. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Hell of a construct. I’d be interested in anything any of them may have said, presuming any of them said anything.
    Presumably, it would be something along the lines of …I dunno. But the idea of taking care of the threatened people before they’re dead would probably not arise.

  25. Richard Aubrey Says:

    My father’s division, 104th Infantry Division “Timberwolves” first went into the line in Holland. Two Dutch towns have streets named “Timberwolfstraat”, and a third named after the division commander, “Generaalallenstraat”. I used Google Earth to take my Dad down those streets. He was pleased.
    I don’t know if he’s read Anne Frank, but I know he goes back and forth from how hard it was, and how deadly and how many guys in his platoon were killed, and wishing they’d been able to go faster. If he hasn’t read Anne Frank, that may be the reason.
    At one point, the Allies found out how little the Dutch had had to eat and arranged a cease fire with the Germans to truck and fly food behind the German lines. But when the fighting started up again and my Dad’s platoon got there, they gave away all the food they carried, knowing the kitchen trucks wouldn’t be up for three days. I can only imagine–unsuccessfully–what additonal stress on the Franks was caused by debilitating, slow starvation, ditto whoever fiddled the ration cards for a supposedly non-existent family.

  26. neo-neocon Says:

    Richard Aubrey:

    Those who helped the Franks are very much remembered.

    I wrote a post about one of them, Miep Gies, four years ago. See this.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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