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Anne Frank (1929-1945)


Anne Frank's world famous diary charts two years of her life from 1942 to 1944, when her family were hiding in Amsterdam from German Nazis. The diary begins just before the family retreated into their 'Secret Annexe.' Anne Frank recorded mostly her hopes, frustrations, clashes with her parents, and observation of her companions. Its first version, which appeared in 1947, was edited by Anne's father, who removed certain family references and some of her highly intimate confessions.

"I haven't written for a few days, because I wanted first of all to think about my diary. It's an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I  nor for that matter anyone else will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart." (from The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, 1952)

Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany. The Frank's family business included banking, management of the springs at Bad Soden and the manufacture of cough drops. Anne's mother, the former Edith Holländer, was the daughter of a manufacturer. She had married Otto Frank in 1925. Their first daughter, Margot Betti, born in 1926, was followed by Anneliese Marie, called Anne, in 1929. After the Nazis won in national elections in 1932, Adolf Hitler was appointed next year chancellor of Germany. Otto Frank had earlier toyed with the idea of emigrating, and in 1933 the family fled from Frankfurt to the Netherlands, where Otto Frank continued his career as a businessman. His  spice-trading company sold goods to the Wehrmach, too. In 1938 Anne Frank's two uncles escaped to the United States. 

Following the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands, anti-Jewish decrees brought into force in rapid succession. Anne's sister received a notice to report to the Nazis. The family went hiding with four other friends in a sealed-off office flat in Amsterdam. In 1944 Gestapo was informed of the flat from 10 000 Jews, who went into hiding, some 5 000 were betrayed. SS Officer Karl Joseph Silberbauer found in the 1960s by Simon Wiesenthal arrested the Frank and the Van Pels families.

The Franks were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where Anne's mother died of starvation. Anne and her sister were transferred from the Dutch concentration camp, Westerbork, to Bergen-Belsen where they both died of typhus.

"Whoever is happy will make others happy too. He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery!" (from The Diary of a Young Girl, 1952)

Otto Frank's secretary Miep Gies, who had searched the hiding place after the family was arrested and found the diary, gave it to Frank in October 1945. After reading Anne's writings Frank realized to his shock that he had never really known his daughter. This was the turning point in his life. For the rest of his life Frank devoted himself to the diary and his daughter's legacy. In 1947, at his own expense, Frank published  the  work as Het Achterhuis  in an edition of 1500 copies. The first translation into English from 1952 came out under the title The Diary of a Young Girl. This book was adapted into a motion picture in 1959, directed by George Stevens. Since its publication, the diary has been translated into some 60 languages. When Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank was originally published in 1950 by Lambert Schneider Verlag in Germany, some booksellers were reluctant at first to show the book in their shop windows, fearing that it might provoke a hostile reaction. The diary became a part of the reading of school children and Anne Frank clubs and discussion groups formed among German youths in various cities in the 1950s.

The Diary. Anne Frank received a diary in 1942 for her 13th birthday, and wrote in an early entry: "I hope that you will be a great support and comfort to me." When she began to fill up its pages, she was still attending the Jewish Secondary School. On her birthday, 14, June, she opens presents: "The first to greet me was you, possibly the nicest of all," she says of her new friend. After moving in the hiding place in a spice warehouse, Frank depictes the nightmare reality of eight persons crowded into tiny living quarters, in fear of being discovered, but also her dreams, hopes and feelings of a young girl on the verge of womanhood. "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are still truly good at heart..." But there were moments of doubt, impatience, rage: "I simply can't built up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death." The poignancy of the diary is increased by her use of epistolary form. The letters are addressed, in the absence of her friends, to the imaginary 'Kitty.' Along with Primo Levi's If This Is A Man (1947), Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl is considered one of the major works of Holocaust literature.

Anne started to write at school, and planned to become a writer. When she heard from radio broadcast from London about the importance of war diaries and letters, and possible publication, she changed the style of her entries. On May 20, 1944 she decided to revise her earlier texts, and in two and half months she produced 324 handwritten pages, which she entitled Het Achterhuis.

The family was betrayed before Anne finished her work. The final entry is 1 August 1944; on 4 August they were arrested. After the war Otto Frank combined her daughter's writings, earlier and later, into version C, which became known as the Diary of Anne Frank. First it did not sell well, but when the diary gained a wide fame in the United States, where it was dramatized and filmed. The lively and moving book sold most copies in the world in the 1960s and 1970s. Also Anne Frank Huis the hiding-place was opened in Amsterdam on the Prinsengracht 263. The house was given by its owner to the Anne Frank foundation.

The authenticity of the diary was examined in the 1980s, when neo-Nazis claimed that it was forged. All the versions of Anne Frank's texts were published in 1986. However, before the publication of the first edition Otto Frank had put aside five diary pages, giving them later to his close friend, Cor Suijk. In these pages Anne depicted her parents marriage, defended her mother, and hoped that nobody would see her writings. In 1995 selections of diary suppressed by Otto Frank were made public.

Battle over the American stage adaptation of Anne Frank's diary. In The Stolen Legacy of Anne Frank (1997) Ralph Melnick documented how Anne Frank's diary was staged in New York. Originally the correspondent Mayer Levin adapted it into a play, but then a "less Jewish" version,  written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, was produced by Lillian Hellman. She helped with the last of eight drafts. Anne's thought, "Perhaps through Jewish suffering the world will learn good" were revised in the play to "Jews were not the only ones who suffered from the Nazis." Garson Kanin, the director, was responsible for the change. Anne's final words on the stage are, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart." The production was a major success and earned a Pulitzer. Levin spent the rest of his life, three decades, fighting for the right to produce his version. Otto Frank never saw the play he did not want to.

Who betrayed the Frank family? According a police record, the person who tipped the family off received 7½ guilders per Jew, a total of 60 guilders. (Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family by Miep Gies and Alison Leslie Gold, 1987, p. 250) In the late 1940s Otto Frank's warehouse man Willem Van Maaren was put under investigation. Due to the lack of evidence the process was stopped, but opened again in the 1960s. No evidence was found. In the 1980s a new name came up: Lena Van Bladeren, who worked in the office as a cleaning woman. Carol Ann Lee has claimed that Otto Frank's business friend, Tonny Ahlers, who helped him to continued his spice trade from the hiding place, betrayed the family. Tonny Ahlers was a member of the Nazi party.

For further information: Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family by Miep Gies and Alison Leslie Gold (1987); The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank by Willy Lindwer (1991); Anne Frank: A Biography by Melissa Müller (1998); Anne Frank: The Missing Chapter, Dateline Productions (document film, 1998); Roses from the Earth by Carol Ann Lee (1999); The Story of Anne Frank by Mirjam Pressler (1999); Anne Frank and the Children of the Holocaust by Carol Ann Lee (2006); The End of the Holocaust by Alvin H. Rosenfeld (2011); Anne Frank's Family: The Extraordinary Story of Where She Came From, Based on More Than 6,000 Newly Discovered Letters, Documents, and Photos by Mirjam Pressler and Damion Searls (2011). Other famous diaries and journals. Samuel Pepys's Diary (started in 1660, ended the first in 1669), Jonathan Swift's Journal to Stella, Fielding's Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon (1755), James Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1785), the journals of Sir Walter Scott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Katherine Mansfield, Anaïs Nin. French diaries and journals: Amiel's Journal Intime (from 1847-), Le Journal des Concourts from 1851 to 1870, by the Goncourt brothes, André Gide's Journals (1889-1951). Other diarists: Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881), Sophia Tolstaya (1844-1919), Victor Klemperer (1881-1960); Franz Kafka (1883-1924), Ernst Jünger 1895-1998), Che Guevara (1928-1967), Sylvia Plath (1932-1963). Fictional diaries: Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plaque Year (1722), Georges Bernanos' Journal d'un curé de Campaigne (1936).

Selected works:

  • Het Achterhuis: dagboekbrieven 12 juni 1942-1 augustus 1944, 1947 (fifth edition, De Dagboeken van Anne Frank, 2001)
    - The Diary of a Young Girl (translated by B. M. Mooyaart-Doubleday, with an introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt, 1952) / The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (prepared by the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation, ed. David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom, tr. Arnold J. Pomerans and B.M. Mooyaart-Doubleday, 1989, rev. ed. 2003) / The Diary of a Young Girl: the Definitive Edition (edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler, translated by Susan Massotty, 1995)
    - The Diary of Anne Frank (dramatized by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, with a foreword by Brooks Atkinson, 1956)
    - Anne Frankin päiväkirja (suom. Eila Pennanen, 1955) / Päiväkirja: 12. kesäkuuta 1942-1. elokuuta 1944 (suomentanut Anita Odé, 2002)
    - Films: Dnevnik Ane Frank, TV film 1959, prod. Radiotelevizija Beograd, dir. Mirjana Samardzic / The Diary of Anne Frank, 1959, prod. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, George Stevens Productions, dir. George Stevens, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett from their plays based on the diaries, in central roles Millie Perkins (as Anne Frank), Joseph Schildkraut, Shelley Winters, Ed Wynn, Richard Beymer / Dagboek van Anne Frank, TV film 1962, prod. Verenigde Arbeiders Radio Amateurs (VARA), with Martine Crefcour (as Anne Frank), Kitty Courbois, and Rob de Vries / The Diary of Anne Frank, TV movie 1967, prod. American Broadcasting Company (ABC), dir. Alex Segal, with Peter Beiger, Theodore Bikel and Diana Davila (as Anne Frank) / The Diary of Anne Frank, TV movie 1980, dir. by Boris Sagal, featuring Melissa Gilbert (as Anne Frank) and Maximilian Schell / The Diary of Anne Frank, TV series 1987, prod. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), with Katharine Schlesinger (as Anne Frank) / The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank TV film 1988, prod. Telecom Entertainment Inc., Yorkshire Television (YTV), with Mary Steenburgen, Paul Scofield, Huub Stapel and Lisa Jacobs (as Anne Frank) / Anne no nikki, animation film 1995, prod. AF Production Committee, Bungei Shunju, Hakuhodo / El diari d'Anna Frank, TV drama 1996, prod. Televisió de Catalunya (TV3), dir. Tamzin Townsend, with Olalla Moreno (as Anne Frank) / Anne Frank Remembered, dicumentary, 1995, prod. Anne Frank House, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Disney Channel / Anne Frank's Diary, animation 1999, prod. Animation Production Multimedia Investment, Associated Studios Global Toon Network, Brookfield BS, dir. Julian Wolff / The Diary of Anne Frank, TV mini-series 2009, prod. Darlow Smithson Productions, France 2 (FR2), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), with Ellie Kendrick (as Anne Frank)
  • Anne Frank. Weet je nog? Verhalen en sprookjes, 1949
  • The Works of Anne Frank, 1959 (introduction by Ann Birstein and Alfred Kazin)
  • Verhalen rondom het achterhuis, 1960
    - Anne Franks Tales from the Secret Annex (translated by Ralph Manheim and Michel Mok, 1959) / Tales from the House Behind: Fables, Personal Reminiscences, and Short Stories (translated by H.H.B. Mosberg and Michel Mok, 1962)
    - Salaisen siiven tarinoita (suom. Marja Tyrkkö, 1983)

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