(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

When Anne Frank was thirteen years old in 1942 she began keeping a diary. Written for herself alone, it described in explicit detail her thoughts and feelings during the two years that she was confined with seven other people in which she called the “Secret Annex.” Eventually, they were all arrested, and Anne, her sister, and her mother perished in German concentration camps. After the war, Anne’s father edited and published an abridged version of her diary which omitted comments about her growing sexual awareness, as well as her critical remarks about her mother and others who shared her hiding place. This version was also adapted to a popular play and a film.

Although Anne’s diary has often been recommended on high school reading lists, parents have complained to school boards in such states as West Virginia in 1982 and in Alabama in 1983, condemning the contents as overly sexually explicit or depressing.

An unabridged, definitive edition, retranslated and published in 1995, has restored all of Anne Frank’s original entries and contains nearly 30 percent more material.


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

On June 12, 1942, at the height of World War II in Europe, Anne Frank celebrates her thirteenth birthday in hiding from the Nazis. Two days later, she makes her first entry in her new diary. She writes about her birthday celebration and about her gifts, which include the diary. She continues to make regular entries until August 1, 1944, three days before her Jewish family and four other Jews are discovered by German security police in a hiding place—called the Secret Annex—above Anne’s father’s former office at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. Someone had tipped off the police.

On July 13, 1942, one week after the Franks move into their hiding place, they are joined in the Secret Annex by the van Daans and their son, Peter. On November 16, Albert Dussel, a dentist, joins them in hiding.

Anne writes to an imaginary friend named Kitty about how she is maturing as she adapts to living in tense confinement. The Secret Annex is on the top floor of Otto Frank’s former office with the Travis Company. The still-in-business company rents the office space and is staffed by people who are loyal to Otto and his family and who are committed to helping him and the others who are hiding upstairs. The entrance to the Secret Annex is behind a bookcase that can be pulled out to reveal the staircase it hides.

With a perception that belies her youth, Anne records the dynamics and interrelationships of the people who live in this cramped...

(The entire section is 520 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Anne Frank’s diary has made her the best-known Jewish victim of the Nazis. The diary has given a human voice to the unfathomable horrors of the Holocaust. Her story of hiding in a secret annex for more than two years vividly describes a life that most readers could not imagine on their own. Above all, Frank comes through as a real and authentic girl, who in spite of her difficult situation writes about the concerns typical of any teenager. Knowing that she later died in a concentration camp, readers have a chance to mourn one of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.