Frank, Anne(lies) (Marie)

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FRANK, anne(lies) (Marie)

Nationality: German (fled with her family to the Netherlands, 1933). Born: Frankfurt, 12 June 1929. Died: Typhus, Bergen-Belsen, March 1945.



Het achterhuis. 1947; as Diary of a Young Girl, 1952; revised editions, as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, 1967, The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition, edited by David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom, 1989, and The Diary of Anne Frank: The Definitive Edition, edited by Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler, 1995.


The Works of Anne Frank. 1959.

Tales from the House Behind: Fables, Personal Reminiscences, and Short Stories (translated from the original manuscript, Verhalen rondom het achterhuis ). 1962; as Anne Frank's Tales from the Secret Annex, 1983.


Film Adaptation:

The Diary of Anne Frank, 1959.

Critical Studies:

Anne Frank: A Portrait in Courage by Ernst Schnabel, translated by Richard and Clara Winston, 1958, as Footsteps of Anne Frank, 1959; A Tribute to Anne Frank, edited by Anna G. Steenmeijer, 1970; The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank by Willy Lindwer, translated by Alison Meersschaert, 1991; Anne Frank in the World: Essays and Reflections, edited by Carol Ann Rittner, 1998; Anne Frank: The Biography by Melissa Müller, translated by Rita and Robert Kimber, 1998; Anne Frank and Etty Hillesum: Inscribing Spirituality and Sexuality by Denise de Costa, translated by Mischa F. C. Hoynick and Robert E. Chesal, 1998; A Scholarly Look at The Diary of Anne Frank, edited by Harold Bloom, 1999; Anne Frank: Reflections on Her Life and Legacy, edited by Hyman Aaron Enzer and Sandra Solotaroff-Enzer, 2000.

* * *

Anne Frank is arguably the most famous author on the Holocaust. Diary of a Young Girl (1947) is enormously popular worldwide and has garnered a wide variety of readers from schoolchildren to university academics. People who wish to learn about the Holocaust often turn to either Anne's diary or Elie Wiesel 's Night. The diary's unique appeal stems from its manifestation of Anne's innocence, frankness, and precociousness, as well as the tragic nature of her ultimate fate. In the diary's third entry, she mentions that she wants to divulge in writing what lies deep within her heart. The secret nature of her diary permitted her to write frankly and describe events faithfully. Because she protected the identity of those whom she wrote about, she was able to write truthfully and without fear of reproach. Thus, the Van Pels became the Van Daans, and Fritz Pfeffer was transformed into Mr. Dussel (which translates into English as "Mr. Dope"). As an adolescent, Anne is perhaps too young to worry about being so tactful. She includes information about sexuality, her strong feelings for Peter, and her anger toward her mother—sections of the diary that her father felt it appropriate to censor when it was published in 1947.

Furthermore, unlike most other diaries and accounts of the Shoah, Anne's work possesses a sense of immediacy because she wrote as events were happening, not years later upon reflection. For example, in her 29 July 1943 entry, Anne castigates Mrs. Van Daan for her selfishness, pushiness, pessimism, coquetry, and numerous other faults; but, as an addendum, she adds, "Will the reader take into consideration that when this story was written the writer had not cooled down from her fury!" Here, Anne admits a lack of reflection, which is actually refreshing, for it renders the entry genuine, immediate, and heartfelt.

From the diary, the reader learns how Anne and the other inhabitants of the annex deal with their confinement. Mr. Van Daan smokes, while Mrs. Van Daan complains, fights with her husband and others, and flirts with Mr. Frank. Margot studies intensely, while Mr. Dussel reads, studies Spanish (he was considering moving to South America after the war), and thinks of his lover Charlotte. Anne and Peter turn to each other. Furthermore, the diary illustrates that Jews in hiding employed humor as a defense mechanism, as when Mr. Dussel arrives in the annex. Anne informs him that only civilized languages are allowed to be spoken in the annex—and that does not include German. This joke of Anne's demonstrates how she is able to release tension by mocking her oppressor.

The diary exists in more than one version; Anne heard on the British radio on 28 March 1944 that war diaries would be collected, and subsequently started to revise her work. She unequivocally states her desire to be a writer and wonders whether her writing will be good enough for her to write professionally. She discusses the quality of her stories, fables, and essays, which Miep Gies found and collected along with the diary; this collection, originally published in Dutch in 1949, is called Tales from the Secret Annex (1962; also known as Tales from the House Behind ). In her 4 April 1944 diary entry, Anne reflects upon her writing and judges "Eva's Dream" to be her best fable. The works in the collection clearly relate to the situation in which Anne is immersed while in hiding. Tales from the Secret Annex is a popular book, although not as widely known or read as Anne's diary.

Anne's diary demonstrates the writer's self-consciousness and her awareness of herself as an author. She writes not only for herself but also for future readers who want to know more about her life in hiding and about the Holocaust. Her diary is fascinating because it shows readers what some Jews in hiding knew about the war effort and the Holocaust, as well as how they coped with their precarious situation. The reader also gains insight into how a teenage girl felt about leaving behind her friends and all that she had—to be confined in a small space with adults, many of whom were rude and condescending to her and treated her like a child—during a time in which she was changing and transforming into a young woman. Anne considers the years in the annex pivotal and significant. In her 4 April 1944 entry, Anne Frank writes that she wants to have a more fulfilling and valuable life than that of her mother or Mrs. Van Daan. It thus should not be surprising to the readers that in the same entry, she continues, "I want to go on living even after my death!" And she has.

—Eric Sterling

See the essay on Diary of a Young Girl.

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Frank, Anne(lies) (Marie)

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