Saturday 6 March 1971
St Mary's Church Hall
|The Diary of Anne Frank
by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
Edited by Otto Frank
I hope I will be able to confide everything to you,
as I have never been able to confide in anyone,
and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.
Anne Frank's first diary entry -- June 12, 1942
On June 12, 1942, Anne Frank, a German Jewish girl whose family had moved to Amsterdam to escape Nazi persecution, received a small red-and-white-plaid diary from her parents as a gift for her thirteeenth birthday. She began writing immediately. On July 6, with the situation in Amsterdam having become increasingly dangerous, Anne's family went into hiding in the back of a warehouse. Although they could take few things with them, Anne brought her diary to her new home, which she called the "Secret Annex." She wrote about her life with the seven other people in hiding -- her parents, her sister, the van Pels family (called van Daan by Anne), and Fritz Pfeffer (whom Anne called Alfred Dussel).
At first, Anne intended to keep her diary strictly to herself. Then, one day in 1944, she heard a BBC radio broadcast in which Gerritt Bolkestein, a member of the Dutch government in exile, announced that he hoped to collect letters, diaries and other eyewitness accounts of the Dutch people under Nazi occupation so that he could make them public after the war.
Bolkestein's words made a great impression on Anne, and she decided that someday she would publish a book based on her diary. She began rewriting and editing, improving the text, omitting passages she didn't think would be interesting to others and adding new passages from memory. At the same time, she kept up her original diary. The first, unedited diary is referred to as version a, to distinguish it from her second, edited diary, known as version b.
Anne's final diary entry is dated Auigust 1, 1944. Three days later, the eight people in the Secret Annex were arrested. Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, the two secretaries working in the building, found Anne's diaries scattered across the floor. Miep tucked them away, unread, in a desk drawer for safekeeping. After the war, when news of Anne's death was confirmed, she gave the diaries to Otto Frank, the sole survivor of the eight people who had hidden together for over two years.
After a period of deliberation, Otto Frank made the decision to fulfill his daughter's wish to share her story by publishing her diaries. He selected material from both versions a and b, editing them into a shorter version later referred to as version c. Readers all over the world came to know this as The Diary of a Young Girl.
Otto Frank's editorial decisions were influenced by several factors. First, the book had to be shortened so that it would fit in with a series put out by the original Dutch publisher. In addition, several passages dealing with Anne's sexuality were omitted, as at that time it was not customary to write openly about sex. Out of respect for the dead, Otto Frank also omitted a number of unflattering passages about his wife and the other residents of the Secret Annex. Anne, thirteen years old when she began writing and fifteen when she stopped, wrote candidly about her likes and dislikes.
It would be hard to overestimate the phenomenon of the original publication (1947 in Holland, 1952 in the United States) of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Ultimately printed in 56 languages and read all over the world, it remains the world's most influential testimony by a young girl on the nightmare of prejudice, tyranny and war. The diaries and the various plays and films based on them have helped shape the minds of writers, politicians and artists worldwide.