The most familiar face of the Holocaust or a mere teenager……..? The recently found two pages of the then 13-year-old Jewish girl’s diary have triggered a fresh debate.
Anne Frank’s ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ was first published in Flemish in 1947. Later, the diary was published in different languages. One of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, Anne hid in a secret room from 1942 to 1944 (during the German occupation of the Netherlands in WWII). She spent two years in that room with some of her family members. From 1942 until the family’s arrest by the Gestapo in August 1944, Anne kept the diary she had received as a birthday present and wrote in it on a regular basis. Later, Anne (and her sister Margot) was sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died (probably of typhus) in February or March 1945 at the age of 15. The Nazis also killed other members of the Frank family. Anne’s father, Otto, was the only survivor. Otto returned to Amsterdam after the war and found that his daughter’s diary had been saved by one of the helpers, Miep Gies.
Two taped-off pages from the diary
Two pages of the diary have recently been found. On May 22, the Amsterdam-based Anne Frank House said in a statement that those pages were covered up with brown masking paper. With the help of image technology, researchers read the text on the pages. Executive Director of Anne Frank House Ronald Leopold said that the hidden pages included crossed-out phrases, “dirty” jokes and lines about sexual education.
Only after reading the text, researchers realised why the teenage girl covered those two pages with a masking paper. She actually wanted elders not to read her mind. Anne started with the line: “I will write dirty jokes on this page.” Then, she wrote four such jokes that she heard from her friends. Talking to the media, Director of the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies Frank van Vree said: “Anyone, who reads the passages that have now been discovered, will be unable to suppress a smile.”
However, Leopold stressed that dirty jokes are not the diary’s only adult contents. The girl also discussed about women’s sexual development, sex, contraception and prostitution in those pages. He further said that Anne actually tried to understand sex. That’s why – according to Leopold – the teenage girl “wrote candidly in other parts of her diary about her burgeoning sexuality, her anatomy and her impending period”. Anne described her period, saying that it is “a sign that she is ripe to have relations with a man but one doesn’t do that of course before one is married“.
On prostitution, Anne wrote: “All men, if they are normal, go with women, women like that accost them on the street and then they go together. In Paris, they have big houses for that. Papa has been there.”
Anne was born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt
Meanwhile, Leopold admitted that the museum authorities took time to decide whether to publish those two pages, insisting that the Anne Frank House didn’t want to change the image of the girl that we had. He explained: “Anne’s diary is a world heritage object with great historical value, and this justifies research into it. Given the great public and academic interest we have decided … to publish these texts and share them with the world. They bring us even closer to the girl and the writer Anne Frank.”
Leopold is right. Many discussions have been held on Anne and holocaust. However, we have made no attempt to understand her ‘adolescent mind’. The two pages will certainly help us realise that Anne, too, was an ordinary girl with a sensitive mind……….
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. – Gertrude Stein.
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