When Anne Frank sat down with her diary, she could never have imagined the impact her words would have on generations of readers. By the end of the 1980s, sixteen million copies of her diary had been sold worldwide, and it remains the most often read primary account of the Holocaust. On July 15, 1944, Frank writes, ‘‘I feel the suffering of millions.'' She had no idea that her story would become the unlikely testament of those millions.
A self-described clown, Frank had no close friends with whom she could be completely open, so she invented one in the persona of "Kitty," to whom her diary entries are addressed. Although Frank's diary contains nothing of her experience at Bergen-Belsen, the concentration camp where she and her sister died, it does provide an altogether human portrait of the Jewish suffering during the Holocaust.
After the Secret Annex was invaded, the pages of Frank's diary were left scattered on the floor. Miep Gies, one of the people who had assisted the hideaways for over two years, discovered the pages and kept them safe. When Mr. Frank returned as the only survivor, Miep gave him the diary. Having just learned that Anne had died, Mr. Frank found reading the diary very painful. At the urging of his friends, he decided to publish the diary after deleting certain passages he considered unsuitable for widespread release. The Dutch version was published in 1947, and the English translation was first published in 1952 with an introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt. After Mr. Frank's death in 1980, a complete version including the previously omitted content was released as the Definitive Edition.
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