The Diary of Anne Frank
How we cite our quotes:
Who has inflicted this upon us? Who has set us apart from the rest? Who has put us through such suffering? It’s God who has made us the way we are, but it’s also God who will lift us up again. In the eyes of the world, we’re doomed, but if, after all this suffering, there are still Jews left, the Jewish people will be held up as an example. Who knows, maybe our religion will teach the world and all the people in it about goodness, that’s the reason, the only reason, we have to suffer. (4/11/1944.48)
Many Jewish people (and others) stopped believing in God after the Holocaust. We don’t know whether Anne did or not, as we don’t know her thoughts during her time in the concentration camps. Here, though, Anne is struggling to reconcile her belief in God with the horrible events she’s experiencing and hearing about. She is also looking for reason in something that must be described as beyond reason.
People who have a religion should be glad, since not everyone has the ability to believe in a higher order. You don’t even have to live in fear of eternal punishment; the concepts of purgatory, heaven and hell are difficult for many people to accept, yet religion itself, any religion, keeps a person on the right path. Not the fear of God, but upholding your own sense of honor and obeying your conscience. How noble and good everyone could be if, at the end of each day, they were to review their own behavior and weigh up the rights and wrongs. They would automatically try to do better at the start of each new day and, after a while, would certainly accomplish a great deal. (7/6/1944.9)
Even though Anne is living in fear, she finds no place for it in her religious philosophy. Anne also shows that for all her sophistication, she is still childlike. For one thing, different people have very different ideas about “honor” and “conscience” than Anne does, Hitler being case in point. Religion can be a source of great comfort, but also of great conflict.