"Our many Jewish friends and acquaintances are being taken away in droves. The Gestapo is treating them very roughly and transporting them in cattle cars to Westerbork, the big camp in Drenthe to which they're sending all the Jews....If it's that bad in Holland, what must it be like in those faraway and uncivilized places where the Germans are sending them? We assume that most of them are being murdered. The English radio says they're being gassed."
Anne Frank - October 9, 1942
First published in 1947 I read Anne's diary for the first time when I was fourteen. It was so very memorable to think of the helplessness and horrors she faced daily. Yet there was the also the day to day life that went on in spite of the terribleness of war while she and the others spent 25 months during World War II in an annex of rooms above her father’s office in Amsterdam. It appealed so much to my imagination that I often dreamed of her in the Secret Annex becoming the very best of friends, confidants, making up stories together and allaying her fears because I already knew how all terribly it would come to a tragic end for her.
A red plaid book meant to collect autographs she named Kitty, the diary was given to her by her mother for her thirteenth birthday. In the course of the two years she spent in hiding she filled several notebooks. Near the end of the hiding period Anne rewrote her diary notebooks with the intention to make a book from them to be published after the war had ended. In 1947, Otto Frank, her father and sole survivor from the group (another couple and their son Peter, Anne, her sister, her parents and another adult man) had the diaries of his deceased daughter published, The Diary of Anne Frank.
After about a year of keeping a diary Anne decided to write short stories based on real events that she wrotes in a separate Story Notebook all of which were published after the war.
In March of 1944 on the Dutch Free Radio Oranje broadcast from England there was a call for citizens to provide their diaries for collection after the war for historical purposes.
-March 29, 1944-
Mr Bolkestein, the Cabinent Minister, speaking on the Dutch broadcast from London said that after the war there would be a collection of diaries and letters dealing with the war ..... Just imagine how interesting it would be if I was to publish a novel about the Secret Annex.
On August 4th, 1944 the Secret Annex was raided, the suitcase Anne kept her diaries in was emptied onto the floor and her fathers's company secretaries Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, collected the now 324 pages for safe-keeping hoping to return them to Anne. Upon hearing of her death of typhus and starvation in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the spring of 1945, Miep gave the dairies to her father Otto commenting:
"Here is your daughter Anne's legacy to you."
Of "The Secret Annex" 1500 copies were published in the Netherlands in June 1947. All in all it was translated into 60 languages. In 1955, the successful stage version "The Diary of Anne Frank" premiered, followed by a film adaptation based on the play in 1959. Prepared by the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation "The Diary of Anne Frank", The Critical Edition was published in 1986. The Definitive Edition was published in 1995 on the fiftieth anniversary of Anne Frank's death and contained entries that both Otto Frank and the first publishers omitted from the 1947 edition. By restoring sections from the original diary, I became more deeply aware of the complexity and sensitivity of Anne Frank, a teenager struggling to discover who she was in the midst turbulent and uncertain times.
"...but the minute I was alone I knew I was going to cry my eyes out. I slid to the floor in my nightgown and began by saying my prayers, very fervently. Then I drew my knees to my chest, lay my head on my arms and cried, all huddled up on the bare floor. A loud sob brought me back down to earth..."--April 5, 1944
There has been an ongoing debate as to the authenticity of Anne's diary. Some Neo-Nazi groups have frequently targeted the diary, hoping that by doing so it might deny the full implications of the Holocaust. After allegations that the diary was a hoax, both in the United States and in Europe, Otto Frank bequeathed the diary to the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation which received it after his death in 1980. To establish its validity, the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation performed tests on the paper, ink, and glue used in the diary, proving that it was written during the 1940's. More testing was also performed on Anne's handwriting by comparing samples from the diary with her other writings, which included letters with dated stamp cancellations. This scientific study has been conclusively accepted that Anne Frank's diary was indeed written by Anne Frank during the Holocaust.
The newest edition of Anne Frank's diary was released this week in the Netherlands with five previously secret pages decribing her parent's loveless marriage and troubling relationship with her mother. Handwitten and secreted for over 40 years they deepen the image of Anne struggling through the normal growing pains of adolescence. She writes of her mother as having "cold eyes" and agonizes that she cannot talk to her--perhaps the reason she turns to her beloved dairy as confidant. She laments that her parents marriage so seemingly perfect on the outside is nothing more than a union of convenience. Her last entry was August 1, 1944 three days before she was arrested. Otto Frank had never concealed the fact that he had deleted some pages 'that didn't concern anyone else' and the original diary was incomplete. He gave the pages to Cor Suijk in 1980 with instructions to publish them after he and his second wife were deceased.
One of the last entries describes her optimism and tenderness near the end of her two arduous years in seclusion:
"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 being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.
The Anne Frank Internet guide:
The Associated Press. "Anne Frank diary relate family woes." Arizona Daily Star, 13 March 2001, p. A10.