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.
Although written in Europe nearly a half-century ago, Anne Frank has remained immensely popular throughout the world. Anne lives in extraordinary circumstances, but many of her feelings, frustrations, and ideas are those of ordinary teenagers. Thus, the reader is able to identify with her while learning about a unique and terrible historical event. Anne maintains a sense of humor and optimism throughout her ordeal. A powerful testimony to her courage, Anne's diary is both sobering and inspiring.
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Annelies Marie Frank was born to Otto and Edith Frank on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany. The year was notable, as it marked the beginning of the Great Depression in the United States and the global economic and political crises that followed. These factors would figure prominently in the worldwide turmoil leading up to World War II. When Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany in 1933, Mr. Frank had the foresight to move his family out of Germany. They settled in Amsterdam, Holland.
When Hitler's regime occupied Holland in 1940, the Franks were subjected to increasingly restrictive laws governing Jews. The political climate worsened, and in 1942 Mr. Frank converted an attic above his warehouse into living quarters for his family in the event that they would be forced into hiding. When Anne Frank's older sister, Margot, received notice to report for labor camp registration, the Franks made their move. They also welcomed the Van Pels family (the Van Daans in Anne's diary) and a dentist named Fritz Pfeffer (Mr. Dussel).
Only a few weeks before the Franks went into hiding, Anne had received a clothbound diary for her thirteenth birthday. This diary, "Kitty," soon became a confidante to whom Frank wrote constantly. Listening to the radio one day in 1944, Frank learned that after the war, there would be a collection of writings describing individual experiences during the war. Frank began to edit her diary in order to have a second version...
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Anne Frank was born into a Jewish family in Frankfort-On-Main, Germany, on June 12, 1929. When she was four years old, the Nazis came to power, and her family fled to Holland. In May 1939, the Nazis arrived in Amsterdam, forcing the Frank family into hiding.
While hiding in the "Secret Annexe," the attic of a warehouse where her father had worked, Anne recorded both everyday activities and her innermost thoughts in her diary. She dreamed of becoming an author, never realizing that her diary would be read by millions. The family remained in the attic for over two years before the Nazis discovered them. Anne died of typhus in the German Bergen- Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, two months before the German Army's surrender.
After the war, her father returned to their former hiding place, where he discovered her diary and submitted it to a publisher. Translated from the Dutch in 1947, the manuscript was first published in English in 1952 and has subsequently been translated into over thirty other languages.
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Part 1 Summary - The First Year
The diary opens on June 12, 1942. Frank and her family have gone into hiding to escape persecution by the Nazis, and Frank has decided that the diary she received for her thirteenth birthday will make the perfect friend and confidante. She names the diary ''Kitty,'' and explains that because she has never had a real friend to whom she could tell everything, she will create one in the persona of Kitty.
Frank writes that her family lived in Frankfurt until Mr. Frank fled to Amsterdam with his family as Nazi Germany became increasingly anti-Semitic. When the Nazis occupied Holland, Mr. Frank moved his family into the prearranged hiding place over the warehouse. The move to the hiding place was prompted by a letter to Margot, telling her to report to a reception center from which concentration camp assignments were made. Quickly and immediately, the Franks packed only a few belongings (so as not to arouse the suspicion of passersby) and wore as many of their clothes as they could so they could take up residence in the ''Secret Annex.'' Mr. Frank invited the Van Daans to come live in the hiding place, too. In all, there were seven people at first: Anne Frank, Mr. Frank, Mrs. Frank, Margot (Anne's sixteen-year-old sister), Mr. Van Daan, Mrs. Van Daan, and fifteen-year-old Peter Van Daan. Frank finds Mrs. Van Daan to be very interfering, and she finds Peter boring.
The group is able to stay abreast of current events by listening to a radio and from...
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Part 2 Summary - The Second Year
Frank's problems with her mother and with Mr. Dussel continue to make her miserable, and her loneliness becomes harder to bear. In an effort to combat loneliness and to feel understood by someone, Frank strikes up a relationship with Peter. Where she once found him lazy and boring, she now finds him sweet and in need of a friend. The more Frank visits Peter in his room, the more their parents become concerned about the propriety of such visits. Mr. Frank eventually tells Anne he thinks she should stop visiting Peter so much, to which Anne responds with a letter telling her father that she is old enough to make personal decisions on her own and that her decision is to continue the relationship. When Frank sees how hurt her father is, she regrets writing the letter for a long time.
There is a short-lived romance between Frank and Peter, but Frank soon realizes that Peter is nice but not the boy of her dreams. Frank's intellectual and emotional superiority to Peter is obvious to readers. Frank is willing to be much more open with Peter than he is with her, and she is ultimately disappointed in him but optimistic that she will meet the right boy someday. Frank's passages about the lessons she has learned about love demonstrate how quickly she has matured from a chatty, energetic girl to a sensitive, self-aware young woman.
Throughout the diary, Frank discusses her friends at school, her family relationships, her hopes and dreams for the future,...
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For Further Reference
Chapkis, Wendy. "The Uncensored Anne Frank." Ms. 15 (October 1986): 79-80. Contains generally unavailable excerpts from the complete edition of the diary.
Gies, Miep. Anne Frank Remembered. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987. Gies, one of the Dutch citizens who provided refuge for the Frank family, describes the details of her relationship with them. Brief articles on Gies's relationship with the Franks are also available in Newsday (April 21, 1987): 4-5, and U.S. News & World Report (May 11, 1987): 77.
Maynard, J. "Old Friends." Mademoiselle 92 (August 1986): 82. Reminiscences about the life of Anne Frank.
Mulisch, Harry. "Death and the Maiden." New York Review of Books 33 (July 17, 1986): 7-8. Based on a talk given at the opening of the exhibition "Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945" at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts (April 1986).
Pratt, Jane. "Anne Frank We Remember." McCall's 113 (January 1986): 72- 73. Recollections about Anne Frank.
"Review." Newsweek (March 30, 1959): 98. Favorable review of the film version of The Diary of Anne Frank. See Newsweek (October 17, 1955) for a review of the play.
Schnabel, Ernest. "Tragedy Revealed: A Portrait in Courage." Life 45 (August 18, 1958): 78-80. Tells about the last days of Anne Frank and her companions in hiding.
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