"The results of tests performed at
the BKA laboratories show that portions of the work [Anne Frank's diary], specially of the
fourth volume, were written with a ballpoint pen."
- Al Fredricks, New York Post, October
Anne Frank may not have inked that famous diary
by Al Fredricks
A REPORT by the German Federal Criminal Investigation Bureau (BKA)
indicates that portions of The Diary of Anne
Frank had been altered or added after 1951, casting doubt over
the authenticity of the entire work, the West German news weekly Der Spiegel has
The diary, a day-to-day account of the anguish of a young Jewish and her family hiding
in their Amsterdam home during the Nazi invasion, has touched the hearts of millions.
The manuscript was examined on orders of a West German court as of a libel action
brought by Otto Frank, Anne's father and the only family member to survive the
concentration camps, against Ernst Roemer for spreading the allegation the book was
This was the second suit against Roemer, a long-time critic of the book, by Frank. In
the first case, the court decided in Frank's favor when the testimony of historians and
graphologists sufficed to authenticate the diary.
In April, however, only a short time before Frank's death on August 19, the manuscript
was turned over to techicians of the BKA [Bundeskriminalamt,
Germany's "FBI"] for examination.
The manuscript, in the form of three hardbound notebooks and 324 loose pages bound in a
fourth notebook, was examined with special equipment.
The results of tests performed at the BKA laboratories show that portions of the work,
specially of the fourth volume, were written with a ballpoint pen. Since ballpoint pens
were not available before 1951, the BKA concluded, those sections must have been added
The examination of the manuscript did not, however, unearth any conslusive evidence to
lay to rest the speculations about the authenticity of the first three notebooks.
* Anne Frank fell ill with typhus at the Bergen-Belsen camp and died in March 1945.
Institute for Historical Review
The Myth of the Six Million -- Appendix 2
Was Anne Frank's Diary a Hoax?
BY TERESSA HENDRY
Is propaganda which involves exaggeration and distortion of facts,
however worthy the cause for which it is used, ever justified? Is
fiction, labeled with the brand of authenticity, ever impossible?
No doubt Harriet Beecher Stowe, when she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, did
so prompted by the highest of motives. Yet she, herself, relates the
incident when she first met Abraham Lincoln in 1863, when he
commented: "So you are the little woman who wrote the book that made
this great war!"
Few will deny that the printed word in this instance fanned the
flames of passion which brought about one of the bloodiest and
saddest wars of history, with brother sometimes pitted against
brother, father against son. Perhaps if there had been less appeal to
the emotions the problems might have resolved themselves through
peaceful means. However, almost universally read at the time, few
people then recognized the potency of one small book or the injustice
done the South through its wide acceptance as a fair picture of
slavery in the South.
Propaganda, as a weapon of psychological warfare is even in wider use
today. Communists are masters of the art. Often they use the direct
approach; just as often they employ diversion tactics to focus the
eyes and cars of the world in directions other than where the real
conflict is being waged. For many years, through propaganda alone,
the dead threat of Hitler and Nazism has been constantly held before
the public in a diversion maneuver to keep attention from being
directed against the live threat of Stalin, Khrushchev and Communism.
Such has been the effect, if not the deliberate intention of many who
have promoted its distribution, of a book of dynamic appeal -- The
Diary Of Anne Frank. It has been sold to the public as the actual
diary of a young Jewish girl who died in a Nazi concentration camp
after two years of abuse and horror.
Most Americans have read the book or seen the movie version, deeply
moved by the real life drama it claims to present. But have we been
misled in the belief that Anne Frank actually wrote this diary? And
if so, should an author be permitted to produce a work of fiction and
sell it to the world as fact, particularly one of such tremendous
Myths Die Hard
More than five years ago the Swedish journal Fria Ord published two
articles commenting on The Diary Of Anne Frank. A condensation of
these articles appeared in the April 15, 1959 issue of Economic
Council Letter, as follows:
History has many examples of myths that live a longer and richer life
than truth, and may become more effective than truth.
The Western World has for some years been made aware of a Jewish girl
through the medium of what purports to be her personally written
story, "Anne Frank's Diary." Any informed literary inspection of this
book would have shown it to have been impossible as the work of a
A noteworthy decision of the New York Supreme Court confirms this
point of view, in that the well known American Jewish writer, Meyer
Levin, has been awarded $50,000 to be paid him by the father of Anne
Frank as an honorarium for Levin's work on the "Anne Frank Diary."
Mr. Frank, in Switzerland, has promised to pay to his race-kin, Meyer
Levin, not less than $50,000 because he had used the dialogue of
Author Levin just as it was and "implanted" it in the diary as being
his daughter's intellectual work.
Inquiry of the County Clerk, New York County, as to the facts of the
case referred to in the Swedish press, brought a reply on April 23,
1962, giving the name of a New York firm of lawyers as "attorneys for
the respondent." Reference was to "The Dairy of Anne Frank 2203-58."
A letter to this firm brought a response on May 4, 1962
that "Although we represent Mr. Levin in other matters, we had
nothing to do with the Anne Frank case."
On May 7, 1962, came the following reply from a member of a firm of
New York lawyers to whom the original inquiry had been forwarded:
It was the attorney for Meyer Levin in his action against Otto Frank
and others. It is true that a jury awarded Mr. Levin $50,000, in
damages, as indicated in your letter. That award was later set aside
by the trial justice, Hon. Samuel C. Coleman, on the ground that the
damages had not been proved in the manner required by law. The action
was subsequently settled, while an appeal from Judge Coleman's
decision was pending.
I am afraid that the case itself is not officially reported, so far
as the trial itself, or even Judge Coleman's decision, is concerned.
Certain procedural matters were reported, both in 141 New York
Supplement, Second Series 170, and in 5 Second Series 181. The
correct file number in the New York County Clerk's office is 2241-
1956 and the file is probably a large and full one which must include
Judge Coleman's decision. Unfortunately, our file is in storage and I
cannot, locate a copy of that decision as it appeared in the New York
Law Journal early in the year 1960.
The Diary Of Anne Frank was first published in 1952 and immediately
became a bestseller. It has been republished in paperback, 40
printings. It is impossible to estimate how many people have been
touched and aroused by the movie production.
Why has the trial involving the father of Anne Frank, bearing
directly on the authenticity of this book, never been "officially
reported"? In royalties alone, Otto Frank has profited richly from
the sale of this book, purporting to depict the tragic life of his
daughter. But is it fact, or is it fiction? Is it truth or is it
propaganda? Or is it a combination of all of these? And to what
degree does it wrongfully appeal to the emotions through a
misrepresentation as to its origin?
Recently the Idaho Daily Statesman carried the following editorial:
Remember Anne Frank
A young Jewish girl whose diary stirred millions around the world,
was remembered last week in a simple ceremony in Amsterdam marking
the 20th anniversary of her arrest by the Nazis.
The story of Anne Frank still causes free-thinking people to meditate
on the ways of the world, the insane manner-of men hungry for power.
Remember? From the time she was 12 until before her death at 14 in a
Nazi concentration camp, Anne lived with her parents, a sister and
four other Jewish persons in one room concealed in the back of a
house in Amsterdam.
All but Anne's father perished in the concentration camp. Upon his
liberation he returned to the Amsterdam house and found his
daughter's famous diary. This youngster always had hopes for the
future, but she was to be denied the right to live. She was a Jew.
Racial hatred is the worst sickness which mankind endures. It erodes
a man's conscience, makes a mockery out of his religion. Fan the
flames of hate and the youngest souls are scarred, and often tragedy
results regardless of age.
Americans take exception to violence. This is a democracy of peoples.
It is difficult to understand how supposedly liberty loving people
can allow the treacherous disease of racial hatred to spread among
thinking adults, among innocent children. The Boise Public Library
has a book which can tell the story better. We recommend The Diary of
Anne Frank. Read it and think before you, too, may spew out a bit of
Similar comment appears from time to time. School publications for
years have recommended this book for young people, presenting it as
the work of Anne Frank. Advertising in advance of the movie showings
has played up the "factual" nature of the drama being presented. Do
not writers of such editorials and promotors of such
advertising, "fan the flames of hate" they rightly profess to deplore?
Many American Jews were shocked at the handling of the Eichmann case,
the distortions contained in the book Exodus and its movie
counterpart, but their protests have had little publicity outside of
their own organ, Issues, by the American Council for Judaism. Others
who have expressed the same convictions have been charged with anti-
Semitism. Yet it is to be noted that both Otto Frank and his accuser
Meyer Levin, are Jewish, so a similar charge would hardly be
applicable in pursuing this subject to an honest conclusion, in
fairness to all.
File number 2241-1956 in the New York County Clerk's office should be
opened to the public view and its content thoroughly publicized.
Misrepresentation, exaggeration, and falsification has too often
colored the judgment of good citizens. If Mr. Frank used the work of
Meyer Levin to present to the world what we have been led to believe
is the literary work of his daughter, wholly or in part, then the
truth should be exposed.
To label fiction as fact is never justified nor should it be condoned.
This material first appeared as an article in American Mercury,
Summer 1967, Volume CIII, Number 485, page 26.
The Diary of Anne Frank: Is it Genuine?
This article, written in June 2000 at the request of Italian scholar Cesare Saletta, is
adapted from the preface to the recently-published Italian edition of Dr. Faurisson's
essay, "Is the Diary of Anne Frank Genuine?," which was originally written in
1978 for submission to a Hamburg court, and published in French, two years later, in a
work by Serge Thion.[note 1] In the following essay, the author takes another look at the
famous diary (or diaries), taking into account developments since then, including the
publication in 1986 by a Netherlands government agency of a comprehensive "critical
edition" of the Anne Frank diary.
-- The Editor
Pierre Vidal-Naquet in 1980: 'A Doctored Text'
In 1980, the prominent French Jewish scholar Pierre Vidal-Naquet, in whose eyes I am
nothing but an "assassin of memory" (Jewish memory, it is understood),
nonetheless wrote:[note 2]
It sometimes happens that Faurisson is right. I have said publicly, and repeat here, that
when he shows that the Anne Frank diary is a doctored text, he may not be right in all
details, [but] he is certainly right overall and an expert examination made for the
Hamburg court has just shown that, in effect, this text was at the very least revised
after the war, since [it was written] using ballpoint pens which appeared only in 1951.
That is plain, clear and precise.
Those familiar with Vidal-Naquet, and his penchant for chopping and changing, will not be
surprised to learn that, a few years afterwards, the professor repudiated this statement.
The 1986 'Critical Edition' of the Anne Frank Diary
In 1986 there appeared in Amsterdam, under the direction of the Netherlands State
Institute for War Documentation -- Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie (RIOD) -- a big
volume with "scholarly" pretensions.[note 3] (The dust jacket of the US edition
calls this "the most fascinating, comprehensive study of that diary in
existence," while the dust jacket blurb of the French edition similarly calls this
the "complete edition of the diary's three versions.") Those words communicated,
not that Anne Frank's "diary" was genuine, but rather -- and what a surprise,
this plural! -- that her "diaries" were. With much circumspect wording, this
book accused the young girl's father, Otto Heinrich Frank, of having carried out
manipulations of the original texts, and of having lied. Of the abusive
"corrections" and "cuts" imputed to the latter, the Netherlands
Institute stated straightforwardly:[note 4]
All this may seem natural and understandable in one who aspired merely to publish the
essence ("das Wesentliche") of the literary bequest, the document humain, of his
daughter, in what appeared to him a fit and proper manner. However, the sentence inserted
on his authority at the conclusion of the Dutch edition of the Diary: "With the
exception of a few sections of little interest to the reader, the original text has been
retained," must be seen as something more than an obvious understatement.
Otto Frank stuck to this conviction to his death: "the essence" had been
published and that was the end of the matter. No amount of argument could make him change
As a result, over the long years during which the diary went on to play an increasingly
important role in the view of millions of people who came to look on it as a historical
document rather that as a work of literature, he did not make it easier to ward off
attacks on the book.
The Netherlands Institute thus conceded to me a point of capital importance: I had been
right in reproaching Otto Frank and in attacking his stubbornness in hiding the truth
about his manipulations. But the "critical edition" held that there had
nevertheless existed a whole series of Anne Frank diaries, all genuine, and that thus I
had been wrong on the other, essential question, of the diary's authenticity. I had,
therefore, the right to expect both a rebuttal of my arguments on that point, and a
demonstration of the authenticity of the diaries. Yet, in this purportedly scholarly
Netherlands Institute edition, I found nothing of the kind.
A Diversionary Tactic
This 720-page work resembles the sort of deception whereby an attempt is made, through a
show of learning on a given subject, to draw attention away from the matter at hand. In
this case, the demonstration is essentially nothing more than a handwriting analysis.
Accompanied with a generous array of photographs and tables, stress is laid in this
"scholarly" book on the similarities between handwriting samples, while
differences -- glaring even to a layman -- are handled with great discretion.
A crucial point: We are not shown the two handwriting samples that I had reproduced in my
analysis (page 297 of Thion's 1980 book), and no analysis of them is offered by the
Netherlands Institute. I refer here to two extraordinarily divergent samples: the
"adult" cursive script dated June 12, 1942, and the "childish" printed
script dated four months later, October 10, 1942; the two "Anne Frank"
signatures alone differ peculiarly. It was in this regard that I most wanted an answer,
for this goes to the heart of the matter.[note 5]
There is no sample of Isa Cauvern's handwriting, about whose involvement I had voiced
suspicions. She had been Otto Frank's secretary. She married Albert Cauvern, a dramatist
working for a Dutch radio station. Isa and Albert Cauvern worked on the "diary"
manuscript and on the various typescripts. In 1947, the year that the first edition of the
"diary" was p ublished in the Netherlands under the title Het Achterhuis, she
committed suicide, a fact that the Netherlands Institute's "critical edition"
does not mention.[note 6]
Nor is there any analysis, or even a sample, of the manuscript of the short stories
attributed to Anne Frank, published as "Tales from the Secret Annex." I had been
struck by the appearance of this manuscript: the "Tales" handwriting resembles
that of a meticulous elderly accountant. Why, of all the manuscripts attributed to the
girl, had this one not been made available to the experts?
Above all, however, the authors of this "scholarly" edition, by insisting so
much on the study of handwritings, have abdicated what ought to have been their main task:
the examination of the content. They should have made it their first task to provide the
reader with evidence that, contrary to what I had written, the "diary" account
actually does mirror a physical or material reality. Moreover, they should have shown that
this account, in all the forms of it that we know, is coherent and comprehensible -- which
is far from the case. But there is no such demonstration. At the beginning of this
detailed work, there is indeed an attempt to grapple with the physical or material
impossibilities I had pointed out, but this attempt comes to a sudden end. A response is
made to a single point: that of the noises, at times quite loud, made by eight persons
over a period of more than two years in a small space, presumed to be uninhabited; noises
even at night, while "the enemies" are absent, the slightest noise must be
avoided and, if someone has a cough, he or she takes codeine. Yet, in the attic, in the
middle of the day, Peter cuts wood in front of an open window! My argument on this point
is derided: my adversaries dare to respond, in the face of conclusive textual proof to the
contrary, that "the enemies" were not there, at this or that precise moment, to
hear anything.[note 7] All of my other arguments are passed over in silence. For his part,
Otto Frank, during my meeting with him in 1977, after I had put him in an awkward position
with my utterly down-to-earth questions, found no better reply than:
Mr. Faurisson, you are theoretically and scientifically right. I agree with you one
hundred percent ... What you point out to me was, in fact, impossible. But, in practice,
it was nevertheless in that way that things happened.
To which I answered that, if he would be so good as to agree with me that a door could not
be both open and shut at the same time, it followed that he, in practice, could not have
seen a door in such a state. Yet, if I may put it thus, such physical or material
impossibilities as simultaneously open and shut doors were already legion in the Anne
Frank diary as we knew it at the time. What can one say of the likely growth in number of
those impossibilities in the "diaries" (plural)?
A Financial Swindler?
Here is nonetheless a part of this "scholarly" edition that I cannot recommend
enough to readers. It is that in which the rather unsettling prewar past of Otto Frank and
his brother Herbert is revealed. In a preventive step against a possible revisionist
inquiry into the matter, the authors inform us that in 1923 Otto Frank founded, in
Frankfurt, a bank called "M. Frank and Sons." The three men who headed this firm
were Herbert and Otto Frank and -- this detail is of some importance for the story of the
Anne Frank diary -- one Johannes Kleiman, a man who appears in the diary under the name of
Jo Koophuis and who, after the war, was to act as an informer against
"collaborators" for the Dutch "Political Criminal Investigation
Department."[note 8] Even before Hitler came to power in January 1933, the bank was
implicated in various shady dealings. A trial was held, but Herbert, the principal, chose
not to appear. He fled the country, finding refuge in France. As for Otto Frank, the
Netherlands Institute authors do not tell us anything clear about what happened to him.
They go only so far as to inform us that the relevant court records are missing, and that
this is "in any case regrettable,"[note 9] an observation which lends a somewhat
dubious aspect to the documents' disappearance. In any event, Otto Frank may have fled to
the Netherlands in 1933 to evade German justice.
Before engaging in a kind of literary swindle, had Frank been involved in financial
swindling? During the war, thanks to various subterfuges and to the support of his three
main partners (all "Aryans"), he had the satisfaction of seeing his two firms
make money in their dealings with, among other concerns, a Dutch mainstay of the Dresdner
Bank, one of Germany's largest banking firms. It can be stated that, even during his time
in hospital at Auschwitz, his Amsterdam business carried on under the supervision of his
associate Jan Gies. Back in Amsterdam after the war, he had a brush with the Dutch legal
authorities, who were very attentive to matters of economic collaboration with Germany
during the occupation. But an arrangement, we are told, was found.[note 10]
Worthless Evidence and Doubtful Witnesses?
The authors of this Netherlands Institute "critical edition" deal severely with
the evidence and witnesses advanced by Otto Frank.
To begin with, they consider that the three expert analyses on which Frank based his claim
of the diary's authenticity are devoid of any value.[note 11] Let us recall that those
analyses, the absurdity of which I had pointed out, nevertheless received, in the 1960s,
the endorsement of German judges, who used them in convicting those who, before me, had
cast doubt on the diary's alleged authenticity.
Similarly severe is the appraisal of the Netherlands Institute of Ernst Schnabel's book
Spur eines Kindes (published in the United States under the title Anne Frank: A Portrait
in Courage), which Otto Frank had enthusiastically advised me to read, and which also
served to defend his argument. According to the Institute's "critical edition"
authors: "Since it [Schnabel's book] contains various errors, all quotations from it
should be treated with reservation."[note 12] As for Frank's star witness, the
all-too-famous Miep Gies, it is an understatement to say that, on certain vital points of
her testimony, she inspires no great confidence at the Netherlands Institute. The same
goes for Victor Kugler ("Victor Kraler").[note 13]
The Netherlands Institute 'Critical Edition' Fiasco
All things considered, the Netherlands Institute's "critical edition" of the
Anne Frank diary is a disaster for the late Otto Frank and for his experts, friends, and
those who have vouched for him. Clearly, Frank's cause has been deemed indefensible. But,
by cutting away the deadwood in an attempt to preserve the tree, that is, by sacrificing
Frank's reputation in order to save that of his daughter's alleged diary, the pruners at
the Netherlands State Institute have found themselves confronting a kind of nothingness.
Only a questionable "handwriting analysis" emerges from it all, which is all the
more laughable given that, a few years after the publication of their "critical
edition" in 1986, other samples of the girl's writing in various personal letters and
postcards appeared on the open market. These samples, which seem genuine to me, have
rendered worthless the Netherlands Institute's laborious analyses. In any case, the
experts' work must now be reviewed from beginning to end.
Finally, I shall add that this big book contains no plan of the house in which, for more
than two years, the eight persons allegedly lived in hiding.[note 14] Previous editions of
the diary did carry such a plan, on which I have commented and which I compared with the
house as I found it. This examination provided an argumentation with which to prove the
fictitious nature of the whole account. The authors of the "scholarly" edition
chose not to include a plan of the house. This is both an admission and an evasion.
In short, behind its show of erudition, this "comprehensive" Netherlands
Institute edition is a fiasco.
The 1991 'Definitive' Edition
In the wake of the publication of the Netherlands Institute's study, it was only fitting
to issue, for the general readership, a new "standard" edition of the diary to
replace the one that Otto Frank had brought out in 1947. There was a real need to repair
the damage wrought by the father, damage denounced by the Netherlands Institute. A certain
Mirjam Pressler was entrusted with the job and, in 1991, there appeared a revised
(herziene) and enlarged (vermeerderde) Dutch-language edition, which was presented as
conforming fundamentally with what Anne Frank had written. This edition was described as
"definitive." In 1995 there appeared an English translation -- similarly
presented as "definitive."[note 15]
An anomalous note, if not deceptive advertising, appeared on the title page, where the
editor had the audacity to write: "The definitive edition... established by Otto H.
Frank and Mirjam Pressler." Dead since 1980, Frank could hardly have collaborated
with Pressler on this 1991 work -- one that, moreover, is for him a posthumous snub. I
venture to say that never has a French paperback book been so laden with confused
explanations on its title page and introductory page, in its foreword, in the pages of the
"note on the present edition" and, finally, in its afterword. One is barely able
to make head or tail of it all. The editor's unease is obvious. Clearly he did not know
just how to convey to the reader that this new Anne Frank diary is -- this time for sure,
and once and for all -- the genuine diary.
We are told that Mirjam Pressler is "a popular, prize-winning writer of books for
young readers and a well-known translator," and that she lives in Germany. But we are
not told what method she might have employed to establish this text, based on the three
texts of the "critical edition." How did she make her choices? What was her
reason for keeping one fragment and discarding another? These questions remain unanswered.
I am not alone in noticing these irregularities. Even among aficionados of the legendary
figure of Anne Frank, this odd Pressler edition is sometimes criticized, and in forceful
terms. Writing in the British monthly Prospect, Nicolas Walter devotes three columns to
the English edition. His article bears a title with a double meaning: "Not completely
Frank."[note 16] He observes that the amalgamation of the three versions (the old
translation and the two new ones) leaves us "with the result that all sorts of
distortions and discrepancies remain." He adds: "The English version is said to
be 'basically... as she wrote it,' which is not true, and it is described as the
'definitive edition,' which is nonsense." Walter goes on to write that this
"standard" version is indeed "about one third longer" than the old
"standard" version, but notes:
...it is still an eclectic conflation of A and B [that is, the first two versions of the
"critical edition"], and it is marred by errors and omissions; many passages are
in the wrong places and several passages are missing.
Walter concludes by asking whether Anne Frank's memory "should not ... be properly
served by a satisfactory reading edition of her diary after half a century."
The Afterword by Rosselin-Bobulesco
The 1992 French edition of this new "standard" version includes an afterword by
Isabelle Rosselin-Bobulesco that, unhappily, is absent from the English-language edition.
The author defends, of course, the argument according to which the "scholarly"
edition settled the controversy about the authenticity of Anne Frank's diary -- a claim
that, as can be seen, amounts to wishful thinking. Still, I recommend reading the section
devoted to "The authenticity of the Diary" and, in particular, pages 348-349,
where my own position is outlined almost forthrightly, and where reasons for doubting that
authenticity, which were inspired by Otto Frank's behavior, are mentioned. I regret only
that, at least in the passage that I will quote here, these reasons are presented as if it
were a matter of obvious things on which everyone agreed. In reality it was, for the most
part, my 1978 analysis that brought to light all that follows in the passage, and which
evoked, at the time, all of the attacks on me -- attacks that, as can be seen today, were
in fact slanders.
Here I yield the floor to Rosselin-Bobulesco, highlighting some of her words:
At his death, Otto Frank bequeathed all of Anne's writings to the Netherlands State
Institute of War Documentation, the RIOD. In the face of the assaults calling the
authenticity of the diary into question, the RIOD considered that, in view of the Diary's
quasi-symbolic aspect and historical interest, it had become indispensable to allay the
doubts. We know that inaccuracies were not lacking. The diary was written in several
notebooks and on loose-leaf. Anne Frank herself had drafted two versions. There had been
several typed versions that did not entirely follow the original text. Modifications,
additions, or removals had been effected by her father. Besides, corrections had been
introduced by persons whom Otto Frank had asked to reread the diary, lest his own
insufficient knowledge of Dutch prevent a proper weeding out of his daughter's mistakes in
spelling and grammar. Furthermore, the Dutch editor himself had also modified the text by
removing certain passages of a sexual character, deemed at the time to be too shocking,
those in which Anne speaks of her menstrual periods, for example. As for the different
translations, they evinced disparities. There were inaccuracies in the German translation,
certain passages had been suppressed so as not to offend the German reader. The
translation had been made from a typewritten text that was not the definitive text that
had served as the basis for [the original book in Dutch]. In the American edition, certain
passages that had been removed from the Dutch version had, on the contrary, been
reinserted. Several expert analyses of the handwritten text were carried out, several
lawsuits had been filed, in response to the attacks against the diary. Never had there
emerged a clear picture of the situation, even if the outcome of the court cases and of
the inquiries upheld Otto Frank.
Isabelle Rosselin-Bobulesco may minimize the actual facts as she wishes, and she may
present things in the colors of her choice: all the same, this passage makes clear that I
was perfectly well founded in believing neither the text of the alleged Anne Frank diary
nor the replies to my questions by Otto Frank.
The December 1998 Amsterdam Judgment Against Me
Nevertheless, on December 9, 1998, a court in Amsterdam found a way to rule against me for
my analysis of the diary of Anne Frank. This study, which I drafted 20 years earlier for a
German court, had been published since 1980 in France and in a number of other countries
without ever prompting legal action. In the Netherlands, however, it will not do to lay an
impious hand on the icon of Saint Anne Frank.
The intrepid Siegfried Verbeke had translated my 1978 study into Dutch-Flemish, publishing
it in a 1991 brochure entitled "The 'Diary' of Anne Frank: A Critical Approach"
(Het 'Dagboek' van Anne Frank: een kritische benadering).[note 17] Verbeke introduced my
text with a foreword that was certainly revisionist in character but altogether moderate
in tone. Two associations then filed a lawsuit against us: the Anne Frank Foundation in
Amsterdam, and the Anne Frank Fund in Basel. These organizations are known for the
ruthless war they wage against each other over the corpse of Anne Frank and the remains of
her late father, but in this case, faced with danger to their identical financial
interests, they decided to make common cause. It must be said that an enormous business
has grown up around Anne Frank's name, a veritable "industry," as Nicolas Walter
The plaintiffs claimed, in particular, that my analysis gave "negative
publicity" to their associations, with unpleasant financial results. For example, the
Anne Frank Foundation, which runs the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam as a popular tourist
center, revealed that it had to spend time and money combatting the booklet's harmful
effect. Indeed, my own information leads me to believe that the personnel of the Anne
Frank House receive special training enabling them to respond effectively to queries or
arguments from visitors who have been influenced by reading Verbeke or Faurisson. The
Moreover, the statements in the booklet may in the long term cause the number of visitors
to Anne Frank House to diminish, with Anne Frank House's management finding itself in
difficulties as a result.
In its decision, the court did not fail to adopt, as its own, the plaintiffs' views on
"the symbolic function that Anne Frank has acquired," and on the decidedly
perverse nature of the revisionists Verbeke and Faurisson. Relying solely on the
handwriting analysis requested by the Netherlands State Institute, the Amsterdam court
declared that it was impossible to call into question the authenticity of the work
attributed to Anne Frank. The court added:
Toward the victims of the Holocaust and their surviving relatives, the remarks [of Verbeke
and Faurisson] are hurtful and needlessly offensive. It follows inescapably that they
cause [the survivors] psychological or emotional injury.
The most staggering part of the ruling was the court's finding that I had personally
breached the law on copyright by quoting numerous extracts from the Anne Frank diary. The
court ruled, without citing evidence, that "the quotations [on pages 36-39 of the
booklet] are removed from their context in an unwarranted manner." This referred to
the beginning of my analysis, that is, the parts I had numbered from four to ten, in
which, with a salvo of very brief quotations, I listed the manifold physical or material
impossibilities in the "diary." Quite obviously, neither Otto Frank nor anyone
else has ever found a reply to this. But that court in Amsterdam found, if not an answer,
then at least a way out: in the court's view, my quotations are simply not to be
considered because, apparently, they infringe copyright.
In my long experience with law courts, in France and abroad, I have had occasion to
witness a good deal of baseness, of sophistry, of warping and twisting the truth, as well
as every sort of judicial ploy. Nonetheless, I believe that this Amsterdam court, in its
decision of December 9, 1998, overstepped the bounds of decency in rebuking me for having,
in a textual analysis, repeatedly quoted from the text. Not one of those quotations,
incidentally, had been removed from its context. On the contrary, with painstaking
diligence, I had, I believe, demonstrated great care in looking over, as closely as
possible, all the words of the text proper, then putting those same words back into their
most direct context. But it is likely that the court understood the word
"context" in a broad and flexible sense, as too often happens, that is, of a
context that is historical, sociological, psychological, and so forth. In doing so, the
court, of course, gave its own subjective view of the history or psychology of an Anne
Frank whom it conceived in line with its own imagination, without paying the slightest
heed to the words that, one by one, constitute a work called the diary of Anne Frank.
A Judgment With the Help of the French Police and Justice System
Verbeke and I were ordered to pay heavy court costs, and the sale of our book was banned
in the Netherlands on pain of a fine of 25,000 Dutch guilders per day per copy displayed
Let us add, for the record, that the plaintiffs had the long arm of the law on their side.
From Amsterdam, they had gotten the French police to call on me at home in Vichy, had me
summoned to the station for questioning, and had bailiffs drop by bearing court orders and
formal demands. The French justice ministry's Service civil de l'entraide judiciaire
internationale, with the French taxpayer footing the bill, worked very well in tandem with
the Dutch police.
A Field of Research for Computer Specialists
In 1978 I was not able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the computer.
With pen in hand, I sedulously studied the Anne Frank diary, searching for certain words
that, at times, were far removed from one another, "cutting and pasting" them
with scissors and glue, and counting them on my fingers. As a result, there occurred
errors of detail on my part that I have sometimes managed to correct. I am aware of the
imperfection of the final result as it stands today. It is my hope that, in the future,
researchers who are adept with computers will take up my analysis and revise it on those
The four editions of the Netherlands Institute (RIOD) diary -- one each in Dutch, German,
French and English -- open up a superb field of research for such people. Working from the
old versions in Dutch, German (two German versions!) and French, I was able to demonstrate
the existence, as it were, of different Anne Franks, irreconcilable with one another, as
well as the existence of contradictory accounts. Today, with the more recent versions from
the Netherlands Institute and Mirjam Pressler, persons skilled in the use of computers
should find it possible to take apart, bit by bit -- and better than I had done -- this
For the same can be said of the "diary" of Anne Frank as of any imposture: the
more someone strives to defend it, the more he provides, in spite of himself, arguments
that discredit it. In other words, by shielding a lie, one becomes ensnared in one's own
lies. To take but one example dear to revisionists, the fallacious character of Kurt
Gerstein's so-called testimony is exposed just as well by analyzing a single version of it
as by comparing it with other, contradictory versions.
But let us be practical: to begin at the beginning of this new job of analyzing the Anne
Frank "diary," I suggest that a team of researchers with good computer skills,
all possessing a good knowledge of Dutch and German, undertake a comparative study of the
1. In Dutch, first the 1947 version (published by Otto Frank under the title Het
Achterhuis), then the 1986 Netherlands Institute (RIOD) versions, and finally, Mirjam
Pressler's 1991 edition.
2. The corresponding German versions, it being understood that, as I discovered in 1978,
there appeared, after the version published in 1950 by Lambert Schneider, a slightly
different one in 1955, published by Fischer Verlag.
At a later stage, it will still be permissible to carry out an analysis of the different
French and English versions and then, to settle the matter for good, there can be a
comparison of the ten or so Anne Franks who emerge from all the Dutch versions and various
Only then, and regardless of what the profiteers who have exploited her memory for so long
may have to say about it, will justice finally be done to the one, the genuine Anne Frank,
who never wrote this "cock-and-bull story," first published in Dutch in 1947 and
then published (in its US editions), in 1953 as The Diary of a Young Girl, re-christened,
in 1986-1989, after renovation and makeshift repairs, The Diary of Anne Frank: The
Critical Edition, before ending up being called, in 1995 (for English readers), after much
patching and faï¿½ade work, The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, by
On pages 94-96 of the US edition of the Netherlands Institute's "Critical
Edition," David Barnouw proclaims that he has summarized what he is willing to call
my analysis, but not without insinuating that I am a trickster.
Of all my material or physical arguments, he responds to only one, that of the loud noises
made by those hiding in the "Annex." Then, of all the instances of noises I
cite, he deals with only three. He claims that, in these three cases, I concealed the fact
that Anne Frank specified that, because the "enemies" were not nearby, there was
no risk of the noises being heard. My reply is that perhaps the nearby "enemies"
(for example, the two shop assistants) weren't there, but that the other
"enemies," indefinite in number, could have heard those noises: that of the
vacuum cleaner, every day at 12:30 p.m., as well as the "endless peals of
laughter" or "a doomsday racket." Barnouw is much distressed at having to
explain these noises and others, sometimes dreadfully loud, in a dwelling where the
stillness of the grave should have prevailed. Additionally, he resorts to ruminations as
diffuse as they are murky, to spare himself effort as well as to mislead. He writes:[note
From the diary it appears that the inhabitants of the Annexe, too, had to brave many
dangers, not least the chance that they might make too much noise and be overheard.
Faurisson, however, did not examine the overall picture of life in hiding in any depth, or
concern himself greatly in this context with the fact that the Frank family and their
fellow fugitives were in the end arrested.
Here Barnouw evinces a pathos that allows him to conclude shamelessly: "Given the
above extract [of Faurisson's analysis of the question of noise], we have no need to
subject all the examples mentioned by Faurisson to review." In my opinion, this last
remark is proof that the Netherlands Institute authorities, by their own admission, have
not wished to "submit to review" an essential part of my analysis, that which
concerns the physical or material impossibilities of the account.
On another point Barnouw insinuates that I am dishonest. On page 261 of Serge Thion's
book, I had mentioned my discovery, during my investigation into the circumstances of the
arrest of the eight fugitives in Amsterdam on August 4, 1944, of an especially interesting
witness. I wrote:
This witness [in 1978] made us promise, myself and the person accompanying me, not to
divulge her name. I gave her my word to keep it secret. I shall only half keep my promise.
The importance of her testimony is such that it seems to me to be impossible to pass over
it in silence. This witness's name and address, together with the name and address of the
person accompanying me, are recorded [on a paper] in a sealed envelope contained in my
"Appendix no. 2: Confidential" [for submission to the court in Hamburg].
Barnouw begins by quoting these lines, but not without excising the sentence which
revealed the reason for my discretion: the witness had made us promise -- that was the
word -- not to name her. Then Barnouw adds deceitfully:
A photograph of this sealed envelope is printed as an appendix to Faurisson's
"investigation," albeit only in the French version of 1980; the publisher of the
Dutch version had the sense to leave out this piece of evidence.
In other words, Barnouw suggests, I had fooled my readers, leading them to believe, by
means of this alleged trick, that the envelope in reality contained no names. Barnouw
suggests that this envelope, if it ever even existed, was empty. The truth is that I had
indeed submitted to the court in Hamburg an envelope containing the names and addresses of
the two persons in question. Today, 22 years later, I believe myself justified in
divulging these names, which have long been known to the court: Mrs. Karl Silberbauer and
Mr. Ernst Wilmersdorf, both of whom lived in Vienna.
On this occasion I will also reveal the names of three French academics of whom it is
stated, on page 299 of the Thion book, Vï¿½ritï¿½ historique ou vï¿½ritï¿½ politique?, that
they concurred with my findings on the alleged diary of Anne Frank. The first is Michel Le
Guern, a professor of literature who at the time was lecturing at the University of Lyon-2
and who has recently published, in the prestigious "Bibliothï¿½que de la
Plï¿½iade" series, a scholarly edition of Blaise Pascal's Pensï¿½es. It would be
difficult to think of a more proficient authority on literary analysis.
The closing sentence of Le Guern's written testimony of 1978 reads as follows:
It is certain that the conventions of literary exchange authorize Mr. Frank, or anyone
else, to put together as many fictitious personae of Anne Frank as he may wish, but on
condition that he not identify any of these fictional beings as the real Anne Frank.
Two other academics were about to come to a similar conclusion when suddenly, in November
1978, the "affaire Faurisson" exploded in the press. They are Frï¿½dï¿½ric
Deloffre and Jacques Rougeot, both professors at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne.
Today these three men are all retired. That is why I have decided to reveal their names. I
had not, in any case, given them any pledge of confidentiality.
1. Serge Thion, Vï¿½ritï¿½ historique ou vï¿½ritï¿½ politique? (Paris: La Vieille Taupe,
1980), pp. 213-300. This essay, "Is the Diary of Anne Frank Genuine?," was
published in English in the Summer 1982 Journal (vol. 3, no. 2), pp. 147-209. See also: R.
Faurisson, "Anne Frank's Handwriting," Spring 1989 Journal (vol. 9, no. 1), pp.
97-101; M. Weber, "Anne Frank," May-June 1995 Journal (vol. 15, no. 3), p. 31.
In 1989, 1993 and 1995, respectively, I wrote three items dealing with a work that claimed
to disprove my findings. These three items may be found in my Ecrits rï¿½visionnistes
1974-1998, a four-volume collection of my revisionist writings, privately published by me
in 1999 for restricted distribution: pp. 856-859, 1551-1552, 1655-1656.
2. Interview in Regards, weekly of the Centre communautaire juif of Brussels, November 7,
1980, p. 11. Among his many publications, Pierre Vidal-Naquet is author of the
anti-revisionist book Assassins of Memory: Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust, which is
reviewed by M. Weber in the Nov.-Dec. 1993 Journal, pp. 36-39.
3. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (New York: Doubleday, 1989). David
Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom, eds. "Prepared by the Netherlands State Institute
for War Documentation."
4. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (New York: 1989), cited above, p. 166
("Afterword"). The German and French editions were published in 1988 and 1989
respectively. I have in my possession these four bulky volumes, that is, the Dutch
original and the three translations. Comparisons between them reveal some odd differences.
5. These can be seen in The Journal of Historical Review, along with articles by
Faurisson: Summer 1982 Journal, p. 209, and Spring 1989 Journal, pp. 99-100.
6. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), cited above, pp. 63-64.
7. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), cited above, pp. 95-96.
8. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), cited above, pp. 30-31. This
agency is not to be confused with the "Supervisory Board for Political
Offenders," mentioned on p. 34.
9. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), cited above, p. 4.
10. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), cited above, pp. 15, 55-56.
11. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), cited above, pp. 88-90.
12. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), cited above, p. 19, n. 41.
13. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), cited above, pp. 36-45.
14. Of the various language editions of the "critical edition," there is a
partial plan of the "Annex" house only in the English-language edition. See: The
Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), cited above, p. 213. This plan is only
for three floors, whereas the house actually had five (as I have shown in the photographs
I published, for example, in S. Thion's book, Vï¿½ritï¿½ historique ou vï¿½ritï¿½ politique?).
15. Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, (New York: Doubleday,
1995.) "Edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler." Translated by Susan
16. Prospect, August-September 1997, p. 75. Prospect is aimed at an intellectual and
17. See "A Belgian Foundation Battles for Free Speech," Jan.-Feb. 1996 Journal,
18. This and the following quotes or citations in this "Post scriptum" section
are from The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), cited above, pp. 94-96.
About the author
Robert Faurisson is Europe's foremost Holocaust revisionist scholar. Born in 1929, he was
educated at the Paris Sorbonne, and served as a professor at the University of Lyon in
France from 1974 until 1990. He was a specialist of text and document analysis. After
years of private research and study, Dr. Faurisson first made public his skeptical views
about the Holocaust extermination story in articles published in 1978 and 1979 in the
French daily Le Monde. His writings on the Holocaust issue have appeared in several books
and numerous scholarly articles, many of which have been published in this Journal. A
four-volume collection of many of his revisionist writings, ï¿½crits Rï¿½visionnistes
(1974-1998), was published in 1999.
This essay is adapted from a piece written in June 2000 as the preface to a recent Italian
edition of "Is the Diary of Anne Frank Genuine?"
The Diary of Anne Frank: Is it Genuine?
The Journal for Historical Review (http://www.ihr.org)
Volume 19 number 6
"Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, PO Box 2739, Newport Beach, CA
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Aug. 27, 1998
Controversy deepens as newspaper prints three new Anne Frank diary pages
News-Journal Wire Services
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - A Dutch newspaper Wednesday published newfound excerpts of Anne
Frank's diary that include bitter observations about her parents' near-loveless marriage,
stoking the controversy surrounding the recently discovered pages.
In a front-page article, the Amsterdam daily Het Parool printed what it said was the text
from three of the five missing pages, next to a large photograph of the teen-age Jewish
diarist who with her family hid from the Nazis.
The excerpts accompanied a story claiming that Anne never wanted her writings published in
the first place.
The publication prompted the foundation that has the copyright to "The Diary of Anne
Frank" to call in its lawyers. The Anne Frank Fund, based in Basel, Switzerland,
declined to comment further on the publication.
The newspaper would not say how it obtained the pages and was unrepentant about printing
them. "We think the whole subject is news and there is no copyright on news,"
said Het Parool's deputy editor, Frits Campagne. "If they send their lawyers we will
ask our lawyers to answer them."
The five pages have stirred up controversy in the Netherlands, where the Franks hid in a
secret annex behind a movable bookcase in an Amsterdam canal house.
Earlier this month, longtime Frank family friend and confidante Cor Suijk disclosed that
he had the pages. He insists that Otto Frank gave him the pages before his death in 1980,
and demands that proceeds from their publication go to his Holocaust awareness crusade in
the United States. Suijk works for the Anne Frank Center USA in New York.
Suijk, a renowned Holocaust speaker who addresses schools and community groups around the
United States, claims he is the "rightful owner" of the pages.
The purported diary entries printed in Het Parool contained Anne's speculation that her
father did not really love her mother, Edith.
"What has their marriage become? ... Father is not in love. He kisses her as he
kisses us (children). ... He looks at her teasingly and mockingly but never lovingly. ...
She loves him as she loves no other and it is difficult to see this kind of love always
unanswered," the excerpts read in part.
"If she had just one aspect of an understanding mother, either tenderness or
friendliness or patience or anything else, I would keep trying to approach her. But this
unfeeling nature, these mocking ways. To love that becomes more impossible each day,"
the newspaper quoted the diary as saying.
Citing one of the pages, Het Parool said Anne wrote she "would make sure nobody got
their hands on" the diary.
David Barnouw, a spokesman for the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation,
dismissed the claim and noted that Anne had written often about her aspirations of
becoming a journalist.
"She is like any girl contradicting herself in her diary," Barnouw said
The war documentation center, which wants to include the pages in a new edition of the
diary, has a lawyer helping it obtain them from Suijk.
Since its first publication in 1947, the diary has become a best-selling modern classic
translated into dozens of languages. Anne's diary trails off in August 1944, just before
the Franks were betrayed and sent to Nazi concentration camps.
Starving and freezing, Anne died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen camp, just weeks before
the camp was liberated in the spring of 1945.
Send questions, comments or Feedback to News-Journal Online
ï¿½ 1998 News-Journal Corp.
Ann Frank...a victim, but of typhus not Nazis...
Telling quote from the NYT article below:
"After his death Otto was criticized...for editing the diary to soften her
interest in sex, her perception of her parents' weak marriage and her hatred of
To The Editor:
Re: Shadows Cast by a Loving Father and the Holocaust
July 12, 2004
Ann Frank died of typhus while interned in a German concentration camp, this
is an historical fact that cannot be debated. Yet Roberta Smith leaves out
this fact in her review of the current Ann Frank photo exhibit and simply states
that '' she died in a German camp ''. This omission is designed to leave the
reader to conclude, given the relentless holocaustamania to which he has no
doubt been exposed to for most of his life, that Ann's death was deliberate i.e
she was murdered by her Nazi jailers. Not content with this subtlety, she
further prostitutes herself to the Holocaust establishment two paragraphs later by
saying that Ann's life was ''snuffed out by the Holocaust''. The implication
here is in no way subtle in that it designed to instantly evoke images of those
twin homicidal icons of genocide, the gas chambers and the ovens.
It is these kinds of manipulations of the facts that have ironically given
credence to the revisionist contention that most of what we have come to know as
the Holocaust, is merely a collection of self-serving Zionist ''bullshit''.
And for the record Leo Frank did not seek refuge in the Netherlands to escape
the anti-Semitism of Nazi Germany. Actually he fled before the Nazis came to
power to avoid prosecution for violating Germany's currency regulations.
July 12, 2004
Shadows Cast by a Loving Father and the Holocaust
By ROBERTA SMITH
Many photographs are haunted by the future, by events that unfolded after the
shutter clicked. Knowing what came next, or later, or in the end, we read
power into them while also feeling powerful ourselves: we in the present know
more than the people in the pictures did. Their innocence is part of the photos'
We read this power into the childhood photographs of people who achieve
greatness, or at least notoriety, from Sigmund Freud to Paris Hilton. We also read
it into images of the soon-to-be tragic for example the exquisite children
of the last czar of Russia or President John F. Kennedy and his wife descending
from the airplane at Love Field in Dallas and the newly tragic, like
teenagers killed in a Saturday-night car crash whose high school pictures run in
The weight of history to come, in terms of both greatness and tragedy, bears
down almost to the point of obliteration on the evocative family snapshots in
"Anne Frank: A Private Photo Album" at the Kraushaar Galleries at 724 Fifth
The show consists of 69 of the many images taken between 1927 and the summer
of 1942, first in Frankfurt and then in Amsterdam, by Otto Frank, Anne Frank's
father, a well-to-do, well-educated businessman who doted on Anne and her
elder sister, Margot. The images introduce a lively, occasionally experimental
amateur in their careful framing, unusual angles and the recurring presence of
the photographer's shadow.
Some are quite lovely; nearly all are tinged with the sadness endemic to
happy family photographs of Europe-between-the-wars vintage. The girls are the
focus; we see them at home, on the beach, at birthday parties. Their
grandmothers, cousins, friends and nannies even their mother, Edith make
appearances. Their world is suffused with warmth and affection.
The images are interesting of course, mainly for an extra-visual fact of
their association with Anne, the gifted teenager whose wartime journal, written
while she and her family lived in hiding for two years in Amsterdam, became "The
Diary of a Young Girl."
First published to almost instant acclaim in 1947, two years after her death
in a German camp, the book made Anne Frank an object of adulation and her face
familiar the world over.
It also gave meaning to the long postwar life of Otto Frank, who alone from
his little family survived the camps, dying peacefully in Basel, Switzerland,
in 1980. He shepherded the diary into print and became the keeper of his
daughter's flame, the guardian of her reputation and to a great extent the shaper of
her image and her message to the world, which, as he saw it, was hope and
Central casting could not have come up with a better face, with its dark hair
and unusually large dark eyes, pale skin and delicate bones. The face was
ethereal to begin with and translated exceptionally well into black-and-white
Fame and death made it saintly, almost haloed, a luminous ghost. It evoked
the unfulfilled promise of the children snuffed out by the Holocaust by
compressing this incalculable loss into a single vivid, meticulously personalized
The show at Kraushaar, through July 29, is insuperably charged. The images
are so complicated and clouded with history and possible interpretation that at
times one can hardly look at them.
In some ways they offer an almost indecent opportunity to pore over the
development of Anne Frank's memorable face from infancy to the brink of
adolescence, to search for indications of her special talent and signs of the diary's
distinctive, urgent voice, which moves restlessly among the tensions and minutiae
of life in her hiding place, her highly self-conscious coming-of-age, her
fears about the war and her rage at what the Germans were doing to the Jews
(especially in the 1991 edition, which restores passages omitted from the
Yet while some onlookers may be tempted to note how a writer's appearance
matches her literary voice, Anne usually is indistinguishable here from the
better-behaved, nonwriting Margot.
With their uniformly sunny propriety, these images document the cosseted life
of wealthy Europeans who happened to be assimilated Jews in Germany. They
could be almost any vaguely aristocratic family. (Otto, an officer in the German
Army during World War I, had the distinguished, small-headed elegance of a
greyhound. A postwar photograph of him by Arnold Newman, included here, suggests
an aging cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm.)
Anne and Margot are invariably neatly and well dressed, often in matching
outfits, even at the beach in the Netherlands, where Otto moved the family in
1934. He went to keep closer tabs on a family business (pectin and spices), but
mainly to escape the anti-Semitism of Hitler's regime. He hoped that the
Netherlands would remain neutral, as in World War I.
There is almost no sign of the gathering political storm. A picture of Margot
in Amsterdam in 1941 shows her sitting on a sun deck, in a typical
hormone-driven teenage pout. Except that the cryptic caption, quoted from the family
photo album, notes that she has just read and thrown down the day's newspaper
that lies beside her.
In other words, the images are slippery. You may find yourself alternating
between uncomfortable conclusions. For example you can feel one minute that the
Franks' private life is being needlessly exploited and the next that the
viewer is being manipulated by glimpses of a fairy-tale life in Frankfurt. They
make Anne's fate seem even more horrible, if that's possible, by casting her life
in the classic Hollywood extremes of safety and violence, luxury and want.
In addition the Finzi-Contini aura of these images cuts both ways. Otto and
Edith loved their girls so much that they maintained the courage of their
family conventions and the semblance of normalcy practically until the family went
into hiding in June 1942.
Anne's diary was written in a fabric-covered (red and white check) journal
that she picked out as a birthday present. (A remarkably convincing facsimile is
included in this show.) At the same time there is something almost stifling
about the persistent cheer of these images. One can assume that those from 1941
were taken by a man who knew he should have moved his family to Switzerland,
where his mother and brothers had fled, when he still had the chance.
After his death Otto was criticized for idealizing Anne's image, for editing
the diary to soften her interest in sex, her perception of her parents' weak
marriage and her hatred of the Germans. This show suggests that Otto's
idealization began long before Anne's death.
Fatherhood fulfilled Otto. But love did not always equal understanding. After
the war he remarked more than once, unselfconsciously, that he did not know
his younger daughter until he read her diary.
Infrequently there is a sense of Anne as one of those children said to have
"an old soul," a glimmer of her lively impatience, incessant curiosity and
nascent charisma. In one photograph she stands on a front stoop in Amsterdam,
primly erect, cocking her wrist to look with mock sternness at her watch. Otto's
shadow looms, suggesting a friendly giant arriving late and also, as a friend
of mine pointed out, a man unable to separate from his children.
In another image from 1941 Anne leans over the balcony of their modern Dutch
apartment, looking back at Otto with the city behind her. One of the few
photographs in the show that are not spatially intimate and contained, it shows her
in effect dangling before a vortex of deep space. It captures an incipient
wildness that glimmers from only a few images, the dark circles speaking of her
worried acuity. Once more the future speaks to us: Anne is pictured as if
moving toward her final destination, far beyond Otto's loving protection.
Peace is patriotic!
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