Anneliese Marie (Anne) Frank was born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She fled from her country of birth to the Netherlands in 1934, following her father, mother, and sister. Their hope to be freed from the German persecution of Jews disappeared when Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940. From then on, anti-Jewish measures isolated the Frank family more and more. Anne was forced to go to a school established for Jewish children, the Joods Lyceum. Finally, in July 1942, the family went into hiding in the achterhuis (annex) of her father's office and warehouse. A month before that, Anne had started writing a diary, which now became an account of two years of living in isolation with the constant fear of discovery and betrayal. The diary also became an analysis of the tensions among eight people living closely together in hiding. Finally it is the personal story of a girl growing up during her thirteenth through fifteenth years.
In March 1944 Anne heard a radio announcement by the Dutch government in exile that after the war diaries would be collected to document the German occupation. From then on she rewrote her diary in a more polished form. This came to an end in August 1944, when Anne and the others were betrayed, arrested, and deported. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen in February or early March 1945. Her father Otto Frank survived. After his return one of the people who had provided food during the family's period of hiding, had saved Anne's diary and gave it back to her father. He made a typescript of the diary, which was published in 1947 under the title Het achterhuis. German, French, and English translations followed. A play based on the diary, written in 1955 by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, became a success on Broadway, and in 1958 was made into a movie by Hollywood director George Stevens. Anne Frank posthumously became famous worldwide. Otto Frank was convinced that his daughter's diary would be a warning against racism for young readers, and to this end he corresponded with readers all over the world. Meanwhile, however, the image of Anne Frank developed from a young victim of the HOLOCAUST into that of some sort of humanist saint. In Amsterdam, the annex became a museum. In 1986 a thorough scholarly edition of the Dutch text was published (followed by an English translation in 1989), in which questions about the authenticity of the diary from neo-Nazis were countered by an extensive technical examination of the manuscript. All three versions of the diary are included in this edition: Anne's first version, her own rewritten version, and the 1947 edition as edited by Otto Frank.
Anne Frank's diary has now been translated into dozens of languages and has sold millions of copies, yet the first biography of the author was published only a few years ago. The diary has traditionally been given to young people to read from a pedagogical motivation; nevertheless, there are several other ways to read the text. Today more attention is given to Anne Frank's Jewish background, which previously was kept in the background, especially in the play and movie. However, it is clear from the diary that for Anne herself her Jewishness was not a very essential part of her identity. Another aspect now more clearly realized is that Anne Frank was only one of many young victims, and the context of the Holocaust therefore now receives more attention. Recently a history of her school, the Joods Lyceum, was published, partly based on interviews with surviving schoolchildren. Anne Frank is now also seriously studied as a woman writer. Writing a diary was in itself an activity typical of girls, and a diary written by another pupil of the Joods Lyceum, Ellen Schwarzschild, was published in 1999. Anne's diary must also be seen in a long tradition of autobiographical writing. During World War II in Holland, as in other periods of crisis, many people started writing diaries, and hundreds have survived, of which several are published. Anne saw her diary, at least the second version, as a literary achievement. The diary itself reveals which novels were an influence on her writing, especially those by the popular Dutch novelist Cissy van Marxveldt. Anne's ability as a writer, her creativity and orginality, are receiving more recognition than before. Finally, having arrived in Holland only in 1934, Anne's mastery of the Dutch language is remarkable. Scholarly research has intensified in recent years, and it has taken different roads, but reading Anne Frank's diary itself is still a starting point.
See also: Autobiographies.
Dacosta, Denise. 1998. Anne Frank and Etty Hillesum: Inscribing Spirituality and Sexuality. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Enzer, Hyman Aaron, and Sandra Solotaroff-Enzer, eds. 2000. Anne Frank: Reflections on Her Life and Legacy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Frank, Anne. 1989. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition, ed. David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom. Trans. Arnold J. Pomerans and B. M. Mooyaart. Prepared by the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation. New York: Doubleday.
Graver, Lawrence. 1995. An Obsession with Anne Frank: Meyer Levin and the Diary. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Hondius, Dienke. 2001. Absent. Herinneringen aan het Joods Lyceum Amsterdam 1941–1943. Amsterdam: Vassallucci.
Lee, Carol Ann. 1999. Roses from the Earth: The Biography of Anne Frank. London: Viking.
Melnick, Ralph. 1997. The Stolen Legacy of Anne Frank: Lillian Hellman and the Staging of the Diary. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Rittner, Carol. 1998. Anne Frank and the World: Essays and Reflections. Armonk, NY: Sharpe.
Schwarzschild, Ellen. 1999. Tagebuch. Niet lesen als 't U belieft. Nicht lesen Bitte. Onuitwisbare herinneringen 1933–1943. Amstelveen, the Netherlands: privately published.
Anne Frank Center USA. Available from www.annefrank.com/.
Anne Frank House. Available from www.annefrank.nl.
Anne Frank Trust UK. Available from www.afet.org.uk/.
"One Voice: From the Pen of Anne Frank." Available from www.exploris.org/learn/exhibits/frank/.
RUDOLF M. DEKKER