The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank was published in Dutch in 1947 (and in English in 1952), using extracts from the diary she kept while in hiding during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands.
First published under the title Het Achterhuis: Dagboekbrieven van 12 Juni 1942 – 1 Augustus 1944 (The Backhouse: diary notes from 12 June 1942 – 1 August 1944) by Contact Publishing in Amsterdam in 1947, it received widespread critical and popular attention on the appearance of its English language translation Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Doubleday & Company (U.S) and Vallentine Mitchell (U.K) in 1952. Its popularity inspired a play (1955) by the screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, which they subsequently adapted for the screen (1959). The book is now considered one of the key texts of the twentieth century.
The Diaries of Anne Frank
Anne Frank began keeping a diary on her thirteenth birthday, June 12, 1942, three weeks before she went into hiding with her mother, father and sister and four other people in the sealed-off upper rooms of the annexe of her father's office building in Amsterdam. With the assistance of a group of Otto Frank's trusted colleagues they remained hidden for two years and one month, until their betrayal in August 1944, which resulted in their deportation to Nazi concentration camps. Of the group of eight, only Otto Frank survived the war. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen shortly before its liberation in April 1945.
In manuscript, Anne's original diaries are written over three volumes. The first covers the period between June 12, 1942 and December 5, 1942 but since the second volume begins on December 22, 1943 and ends on April 17, 1944 we can assume that the original volume or volumes between December 1942 and December 1943 have been lost. This missing period however is covered in the version Anne rewrote for preservation. The original missing volume or volumes might have been quite literally "lost" in the mayhem after the arrest of those in the annexe, or may have been burned by Anne herself after she was through with her revision of the material. The third existing notebook contains entries from April 17 to August 1, 1944, when Anne wrote for the last time before her arrest.
In the original notebook her diary entries follow a standard for the first three months until September 28, 1942 when she began addressing her entries to characters from Cissy van Marxveldt's Joop ter Heul novels. In van Marxveldt's books the headstrong Joop also keeps a diary and writes to her group of friends about her calamities and loves. Anne adopted the group and addressed her diary entries to Joop's friends 'Kitty', 'Conny', 'Emmy', 'Pop', and 'Marianne' until November of that year, when the first notebook ends. By the time she started the second existing volume, there was only one imaginary friend she was writing to: Kitty, and in her later re-writes, Anne changed the address of all the diary entries to "Kitty".
There has been much conjecture about the identity or inspiration of Kitty, who in Anne's revised manuscript is the sole recipient of her letters. In 1986 the critic Sietse van der Hoech wrote that the name referred to Kitty Egyedi, a prewar friend of Frank's. Van der Hoech may have been informed by the 1970 publication 'A Tribute to Anne Frank', prepared by the Anne Frank Foundation, which assumed a factual basis for the character in its preface by the then chairman of the Foundation, Henri van Praag, and accentuated this with the inclusion of a group photograph that singles out Anne, Sanne Ledermann, Hanneli Goslar and Kitty Egyedi. Anne does not mention Kitty Egyedi in any of her writings (in fact the only other girl mentioned in her diary from the often reproduced photo, other than Goslar and Ledermann, is Mary Bos, whose drawings Anne dreamed about in 1944) and the only comparable example of Anne writing unposted letters to a real friend are two farewell letters to Jaqueline van Maarsen from September 1942. Theodore Holman wrote in reply to Sietse van der Hoech that the diary entry for September 28, 1942 proved conclusively the character's fictional origin. Jaqueline van Maarsen agreed but Otto Frank assumed his daughter had her real acquaintance in mind when she wrote to someone of the same name. However, Kitty Egyedi said in an interview that she was flattered by the assumption but doubted the diary was addressed to her: "Kitty became so idealized and started to lead her own life in the diary that it ceases to matter who is meant by 'Kitty'. The name ... is not meant to be me."
Anne had expressed the desire in the re-written introduction of her diary for one person that she could call her truest friend, that is, a person to whom she could confide her deepest thoughts and feelings. She observed that she had many "friends", and equally many admirers, but (by her own definition) no true, dear friend with whom she could share her innermost thoughts. She originally thought her girlfriend Jacque van Maarsen would be this person, but that was only partially successful. In an early diary passage, she remarks that she is not in love with Hello Silberberg, her suitor at that time, but writes that "maybe he will become a true friend". In hiding, she invested much time and effort into her budding romance with Peter van Pels, thinking he might evolve into that one, true friend, but that was eventually a disappointment to her, also. Ultimately, the closest friend Anne had during her tragically short life was her diary, "Kitty", for it was only to "Kitty" that she entrusted her innermost thoughts.
Frank's already budding literary ambitions were galvanized on March 29, 1944 when she heard a broadcast made by the exiled Dutch Minister for Education, Art and Science, Gerrit Bolkestein, calling for the preservation of "ordinary documents—a diary, letters ... simple everyday material" to create an archive for posterity as testimony to the suffering of civilians during the Nazi occupation, and on May 20 notes that she has started re-drafting her diary with future readers in mind. She expanded entries and standardized them by addressing all of them to Kitty, clarified situations, prepared a list of pseudonyms and cut scenes she thought of little interest or too intimate for general consumption. This manuscript, written on loose sheets of paper, was retrieved from the hiding place after the arrest, and given to Otto Frank with the original notebooks when his daughter's death was confirmed in the autumn of 1945. Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl had rescued them along with other personal possessions after the family's arrest and before their rooms were ransacked by the Dutch police and the Gestapo.
When Otto Frank eventually began to read his daughter's diary, he was astonished. He said to Miep Gies: "I never knew my little Anne was so deep". He also remarked that the clarity with which Anne had described many everyday situations brought those since-forgotten moments back to him vividly.
The first transcription of Anne's diary was made by Otto Frank for his relatives in Switzerland. The second, a composition of the rewritten draft on loose sheets, sketches from her essays book, and scenes from her original diaries, became the first draft submitted for publication, with an epilogue explaining the fate of its author, written by a family friend. In the spring of 1946 it came to the attention of Dr. Jan Romein, a Dutch historian, who was so moved by it that he immediately wrote an article for the newspaper Het Parool:
This caught the interest of Contact Publishing in Amsterdam, who approached Otto Frank to submit a draft of the manuscript for their consideration. They offered to publish but advised Otto Frank that Anne's candor about her emerging sexuality might offend certain conservative quarters and suggested cuts. Further entries were deleted before the book was published on June 25, 1947.
At the end of 1950 a translator was found to produce an English-language version. Barbara Mooyaart-Doubleday was contracted by Vallentine, Mitchell & Co. in England and by the end of the following year her translation was submitted, now including the deleted passages at Otto Frank's request and the book appeared in America and Great Britain 1952. It became a bestseller. Translations into German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and Greek followed. The play based on the diary won the Pulitzer Prize for 1955, and the subsequent movie earned Shelley Winters an Academy Award for her performance, whereupon Winters donated her Oscar to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Anne Frank had, in the sense, returned.
Primo Levi: "One single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did, but whose faces have remained in the shadows. Perhaps it is better that way: if we were capable of taking in all the suffering of all those people, we would not be able to live."
John F. Kennedy: "Of the multitudes who throughout human history have spoken for human dignity in times of great suffering and loss, no voice is more compelling than that of Anne Frank."
Nelson Mandela: "Some of us read Anne Frank's diary on Robben Island and derived much encouragement from it."
Václav Havel: "The content of Anne Frank's legacy is still very much alive and it can address us fully, especially at a time when the map of the world is changing and when dark passions are awakening within people."
Attacks on the diary
As the name of Anne Frank became widely known in the decade after the war, and reading of her diary shed light into the scale of Nazi atrocities, Holocaust deniers began to slander her and challenge the authenticity of her diary. Simon Wiesenthal's encounter with deniers distributing pamphlets calling the diary a 'fraud' propelled him into investigating the arrest of the Frank family, with the dual purpose of bringing to justice the betrayer and thus proving the diary's historic legitimacy. The investigation ended in 1963 when he located the arresting officer, Karl Silberbauer, who it transpired could shed little light on the identity of the betrayer. Holocaust deniers shifted their focus away from denying the existence of Anne Frank to casting doubt on the authenticity of the published diary.
Otto Frank had mentioned in interviews that he had cut passages before publication that would be of little interest to the general reader and had assigned pseudonyms to protect the identities of those mentioned, which led deniers to allege that the published version was not an accurate transcription of the manuscripts, and had been written wholly or partly by Otto Frank or one of his associates. Although he took legal action for the remainder of his life to protect the memory of his daughter, it was only with the publication of Anne Frank's unabridged diaries that the debate could be put to rest.
After his death in 1980, Otto Frank bequeathed his daughter's manuscripts to the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, who commissioned a forensic study to determine when the manuscripts had been prepared, and by whom. The glue, paper and other materials used in the original notebooks as well as the ink and handwriting found within them and the loose version were extensively examined and in 1986 the results were published. The handwriting was found to be consistent with known examples of Anne Frank's handwriting, and the paper, ink and glue found in the diaries and loose papers were consistent with materials available in Amsterdam during the period in which the diary was written.