Historical Context

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Hitler's Rise to Power
Frank and the others were in hiding from June 1942 to August 1944. World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945, involving the United States, Japan, and most of Europe, including Russia. While the causes of the war are complex, historians agree that without Adolf Hitler's regime there would have been no World War II at that time.

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Following World War I, Hitler began to develop his idea of a ‘‘Master Aryan Race.’’ This vision included enlarging Germany by overtaking neighboring countries. The National Socialist Party, or Nazis, believed in a totalitarian government that would, in theory, fairly distribute wealth and provide full employment.

Faced with economic hardship and political uncertainty, Germans were responsive to Hitler's impassioned speechmaking. Hitler maintained that radicals and Jews were to blame for Germany's problems, adding that the Aryan race was naturally superior and, thus, destined to rule the world. In 1933, Hitler became the chancellor of Germany, and, contrary to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (which ended World War I), Hitler began to build his military. Because these efforts went unchallenged by other European countries, Hitler's war machine was soon well-armed. This re-armament created jobs, restored the economy, and stoked national pride, which increased public acceptance of Hitler.

Armed with a strong military, Hitler invaded Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and set his sights on Poland after France and Britain declared war on Germany. The Allies, however, had not been strengthening their militaries, so they were no match for Hitler's forces. In 1939 and 1940, Hitler invaded Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France. In 1941, he broke his pact with Stalin and invaded Russia.

Hitler's social design involved banning all other political parties, censoring publications that were not pro-Nazi, and forbidding interaction between Jews and Aryans. Increasingly restrictive measures against Jews followed: they were forbidden to hold public office, teach, practice law or medicine, work in the press, or run businesses; property was seized, fines were imposed, and emigration was stifled. The Nazis were able to secure lists of all Jews in any area, so they forced them to wear identifying yellow stars. These measures were the reason that Mr. Frank moved his family to Holland when Hitler came to power in 1933. Hitler's anti-Semitism was absolute, and the Nazis engaged in the systematic killing of "undesirable" and "inferior" segments of the population that included not only Jews, but also "gypsies" (Romany), the mentally retarded and disturbed, and homosexuals. The Nazis viewed these groups as subhuman and often made them work under harsh conditions before killing them, so that the regime could capitalize on their labor. When defeat of the Nazis was imminent, they continued to kill as many prisoners as possible before the Allies could liberate their camps. At the end of the war, six million Jews had been killed, a number representing two-thirds of the world's Jewish population at the time.

German Occupation of Holland
Hitler's regime invaded Holland on May 10, 1940. Planes riddled the Dutch countryside with bombs, and after five days of fighting, the Dutch were forced to surrender. Initially, there were few signs that Holland would be subject to the same social policies instituted in Germany, but it was not long before it became clear that there would be no more tolerance for Jews in Holland than there was in Germany. Mr. Frank, therefore, began making plans for a secret apartment in the warehouse where he worked. He felt certain that he and his family would have to go into hiding, so he formed a network of trustworthy people to help.

The treatment endured by Jews in Holland was similar to that in Germany. Dutch Jews were forced to wear yellow stars and to carry identity cards marked with the letter J. They were not allowed to visit Christians, they had to be indoors after 8 p.m., they were not allowed to use public transportation, and they could not conduct business. The next step was to force Jews in Amsterdam out of their homes and into a Jewish ghetto. Before long, Jews from other cities were sent to live in this ghetto, permitted to bring only a few personal items but no furniture. Their money and items of value were deposited in German banks.

When the Germans were unable to coerce the Dutch people to leave their homeland to go work in ammunition plants in Germany, they began to force people to go. First, the unemployed were sent to Germany, and then the Nazis began to close Dutch factories in order to have an increased labor force to send to Germany. By 1944, over a half million people had been sent to work in Germany. Considering that the entire population in Holland at the time was nine million, this was a significant part of the population, and it left the Dutch economy in severe disrepair.

In 1943, the Germans installed the Country Guard, which was a group of men, mainly discharged convicts, sent to walk Dutch streets, demanding identity cards and tracking down healthy men in hiding. To add to the terrifying atmosphere, Dutch men were routinely sentenced to execution. In the end, more than 30,000 men were killed this way.

In every country occupied by the Nazis, there was a small, brave group of people who helped Jews hide. In Holland there was a Dutch Resistance Movement. In addition to organized strikes, there was at least one instance of a group of anti-Nazi Dutch people beating Nazis severely with sticks and pipes. The Nazis often offered rewards to citizens who turned in Jews, and those caught hiding them faced death or sentences in concentration camps. This is why Frank was amazed at the generosity and courage exhibited by Miep, Bep, Mr. Kleiman, and Mr. Kugler.

Form and Content

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On June 12, 1942, Anne Frank celebrated her thirteenth birthday. Of the gifts that she received, the one that she liked best was a clothbound diary. Anne and her family lived in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, and the net of genocide was closing inexorably around them. A few weeks after Anne’s birthday, her sister, Margot, was ordered to report to the reception center for a concentration camp. The family, driven to desperate measures, foresaw their future. They had prepared a space above Otto Frank’s warehouse and office at 263 Prinsengracht, where they planned to hide, aided by loyal Dutch friends. They entered their loft through a door hidden by a bookcase made in anticipation of this eventuality.

The family went into hiding in July, 1942. Anne’s diary, first published in its totality in 1989, reveals that the Frank family had planned to disappear on July 16, but that the situation in The Netherlands became so threatening for Jews that on July 9 they left their apartment and began their twenty-five-month exile at 263 Prinsengracht. In the full version of Anne’s diary, the resettlement of the Frank family, related in some detail, is accompanied by a detailed description of the rooms where the Franks and four other Jews—the Van Daan family (in real life, the Van Pels family) and Dr. Düssel—lived.

The diary, written chronologically with occasional additions and revisions made within some of the entries, exists in two versions because Anne recopied the original. Also, as she ran out of space, she wrote entries, always dated, on loose sheets of paper. Otto Frank’s former employees gathered these materials immediately after the Nazis arrested and removed the eight people hiding in the loft, leaving these papers behind.

The Diary of a Young Girl is one of the most important documents about Adolf Hitler’s attempts to destroy a major part of Europe. Anne Frank did not set out to create a public document. Rather, on an almost daily basis, she related what life was like for her and the seven people sharing the small space in the loft. A toilet unthinkingly flushed, a water faucet turned on, a laugh, a cough, or a song might call attention to the presumably unoccupied space above the warehouse. Even though the windows were painted blue against air raids, light from the rooms of this hiding place might escape through a chip in the paint and be noticed.

Obviously, none of the eight people in hiding dared ever venture into the street. Their only respite was brief weekend excursions into the warehouse when it was officially closed, but even those outings jeopardized their security. Given such confinement, the tempers of the eight people sequestered in the loft sometimes flared. They had no respite from one another and little privacy. The specter of arrest and deportation always loomed over them.

Despite this situation, the Franks did what they could to live as normally as possible. Otto educated his daughters and Peter Van Daan. Anne and Margot helped their mother bake cakes and cookies when they got some butter at Christmas. Anne Frank was unfailingly optimistic despite occasional bouts of moodiness. Her sense of humor never left her, nor did her hope for the future.

Context

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Anne Frank’s diary is a chronicle of a young girl growing to womanhood. At a time when she should have been exploring her world, Anne, an optimistic, bright, gregarious adolescent, was confined with seven other people to a small, enclosed space. Sounds, light through the painted window, or any small miscue put everyone in this hiding place at risk. The concerns of this young girl focused on a society that arbitrarily singled out specific groups of people and marked them for annihilation. The organized madness that marked more than a decade of Hitler’s rule in Germany blurred the lines that usually define human morality. Under Hitler, wrong equaled right, despotism equaled patriotism.

In such a climate, the thirteen-year-old Anne began a diary that suggests extraordinary writing skills in a young woman coping with a hopeless situation by thinking and writing her way around it. Although she cannot be called a feminist writer, Anne Frank stands as a beacon to all people, especially to writers. The diary contains little rancor, because Anne believed that she would prevail in the end. Although she died, she was correct in her assumption: In the end, she has prevailed through her words. Her most lasting monument is the diary that she left behind. Translated into more than forty languages and transformed into drama, it has perhaps made those who have been exposed to it less willing to subscribe to the kind of despotism that marked the era in which Anne Frank grew to womanhood.

Form and Content

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The Diary of a Young Girl is written in the form of letters to Anne Frank’s imaginary friend, Kitty, telling of daily life and of her thoughts while in the “secret annex” where she and seven other Jews were in hiding after the Nazi invasion of Holland. Although cast in letters, the book is really an autobiographical narrative of Frank’s experiences as she grew up under extremely oppressive conditions. The secret annex consisted of four small rooms with a primitive bathroom and a stove for cooking, concealed at the top and back of a warehouse in central Amsterdam. The book’s original Dutch title, Het Achterhuis, means “the backhouse,” where the entire action takes place.

The Franks had emigrated to Holland in 1933 when the Nazis had come to power and begun to persecute Jews. In July, 1942, together with the Van Daan family, they moved into the secret annex, where they were later joined by Mr. Dussel. They were totally dependent on the kindness and ingenuity of Mr. Koophuis, Mr. Kraler, Miep, and Elli for food and other necessities. Beneath their attic hiding place, there was an office and warehouse, where business was carried out during the day. Consequently, the fugitives had to sit still and silent for hours on end, not daring to speak or move for fear of being discovered. For more than two years, Frank did not leave the hiding place. She longed for fresh air, nature, exercise, and the company of friends; she had only Peter Van Daan, whom she idealized as her boyfriend, although before long she recognized his shyness and immaturity. At night, the Franks listened to the radio for news of the war, hoping for liberation by the Allies before they were caught. They watched with a mixture of joy and terror the bombing of Amsterdam: While it represented a risk to them, it also meant that the Allies were advancing and beating the Germans.

The Diary of a Young Girl ends abruptly on August 1, 1944, with a long letter in which Frank expresses her hopes, ideals, and dreams for the future in a more peaceful world after the war. She was not destined to fulfill these hopes. The Nazis suddenly broke into the secret annex; it is not known who betrayed the Franks, but it may have been the grocer across the street. All the occupants were deported to concentration camps, and only Mr. Frank survived; the others disappeared into unrecorded deaths. Anne and Margot both died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen in March, 1945, only two months before the end of the war. The manuscript of The Diary of a Young Girl was found among the things abandoned in the secret annex.

Setting

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Anne Frank's diary begins on Sunday, June 14, 1942, during World War II. At this time, thirteen-year-old Anne and her family live in Amsterdam, where she attends the Montessori School. As the Nazis march into Holland, they force Jews to wear identifying badges displaying the Star of David. Shortly thereafter, the Jews begin receiving "call up notices" and are sent to concentration camps. When Margot, Anne's sister, is told to report to S.S. Headquarters, her father realizes that the family must hide and arranges for them to stay at the "Secret Annexe" of the warehouse on Princengracht Street.

The three-story building faces a canal constantly patrolled by the Nazis. The first floor is a warehouse, the second floor consists of offices, and the third floor serves as a storeroom. The storeroom contains several attic rooms not visible from the street. A sliding bookcase at the bottom of the staircase separates the offices from the confined area, where the Franks hide with the Van Daan family and the dentist Mr. Dussel. It is in this setting that Anne's story unfolds.

Discussion Topics

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How does the diary format help readers feel like the writer is a good friend?

What details does Anne Frank share about herself that make her seem like an ordinary teenager?

What passages in the diary are particularly effective in making readers aware of the effects of prejudice?

How do the residents of the annex cope with the stress of life in hiding and of sharing tight living quarters with so many other people?

How does Frank place her family’s problems in the larger context of Adolf Hitler’s effort to eliminate the Jewish people?

Frank revised passages of her diary with publication in mind. What evidence is found in the text that she was thinking about an outside audience?

Literary Style

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Diary as Confidante
With her diary, Frank creates the friend she never had. Her diary became a person with whom she could be completely open, and in its passages, the reader sees Frank as funny, thoughtful, vindictive, angry, hateful, flippant, and optimistic. Frank initially explains that her schoolmates like her because of her outgoing personality, which frustrates her because she has never shown anyone her serious side. Her first entry states, ‘‘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.’’

Frank addresses her diary as if it were a person; she names it ''Kitty'' and writes to it as if it were an outsider. Writing about boys, she remarks on June 20, 1942, ‘‘You're probably a little surprised to hear me talking about admirers at such a tender age.'' At the end of the same entry, she concludes, ''There you are. We've now laid the basis for our friendship.’’ On July 9, 1942, she describes the hiding place, commenting, ''The hiding place was located in Father's office building. That's a little hard for outsiders to understand, so I'll explain.’’ Frank's tone suggests that she is writing letters to a person who is removed from Frank's unique situation. On July 11, 1942, she writes, ‘‘You no doubt want to hear what I think of being in hiding.'' She not only approaches her diary as if it were a separate person, but she also imagines that this person has questions and reactions to what Frank writes. On April 6, 1944, for example, Frank answers Kitty's imagined question about her hobbies and interests. On June 15, 1943, Frank fears that Kitty is at times bored with Frank's writings: ‘‘Heaps of things have happened, but I often think I'm boring you with my dreary chitchat and that you'd just as soon have fewer letters. So I'll keep the news brief.’’ When she feels that Kitty might judge her harshly, she makes a comment such as the one ending the entry on November 7, 1942: ‘‘Don't condemn me, but think of me as a person who sometimes reaches the bursting point!’’

Irreverent Humor
Among Frank's appealing attributes is her sense of humor, which is typical of a teenager in its irreverence and sarcasm. She holds nothing back in her biting portrayals of the other hideaways, and the result is often quite comical. On August 4, 1943, she comments on Mrs. Van Daan, explaining that her bed is ‘‘shoved against the window so that Her Majesty, arrayed in her pink bed jacket, can sniff the night air through her delicate little nostrils.'' Anne's humor is also turned on herself, as in the entry on December 22, 1942, where she concludes, ‘‘I'm afraid my common sense, which was in short supply to begin with, will be used up too quickly and I won't have any left by the time the war is over.''

Sarcasm is a key element of Frank's sense of humor, and one that plays a vital role in her ability to cope with her extreme situation. Once she realizes that sharing a room with Mr. Dussel will not be as pleasant as she had hoped, she writes on November 28, 1942, ‘‘I have the singular pleasure (!) of sharing my far too narrow room with His Excellency.’’ Regarding her sister, she comments on September 27, 1942, ‘‘Margot doesn't need it [the Van Daans's parenting advice], since she's naturally good, kind and clever, perfection itself.’’ In instances like these, Frank uses sarcasm as a way to feel validated. By making sarcastic remarks at the expense of her sister, her sister becomes less threatening. In the same way, she disarms the threat of the Nazis on October 9, 1942, when she describes some of the gross injustices done to Jews by the Nazis. She writes, ‘‘Fine specimens of humanity, those Germans, and to think I'm actually one of them! No, that's not true, Hitler took away our nationality long ago.’’ In another entry on March 19, 1943, Frank writes about the Nazis, ‘‘The wounded seem so proud of their wounds—the more the better. One was so beside himself at the thought of shaking hands (I presume he still had one) with the Fuhrer that he could barely say a word.''

That Frank continues to indulge her sense of humor in such circumstances is a testament to her will to survive and be the whole person she was before she went into hiding. The ability to laugh and mock the enemy in a time of unthinkable events in war-torn Europe is admirable.

Organization
Many readers and critics are impressed with Frank's natural talent as a writer. Her diary as a whole is well-organized, and the individual passages are clear and logical. She makes an effort to include details of daily life, news from the outside, events of the Secret Annex, and her own thoughts. Other teenagers would likely write extensively about their feelings and their hopes for the future, but Frank provides the full picture and thus a context for her musings. The Definitive Edition of the diary includes not only the passages that Frank wrote for herself, but also the changes that she made in hopes that the diary would be published after the war as part of a collection of historical accounts of the war. Her ability to organize her material demonstrates foresight and writing ability beyond her years.

The diary is so well written, in fact, that it has come under scrutiny in the past. Certain groups maintained that the diary was falsified because a teenage girl could not possibly have written it. After Mr. Frank's death, the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation, which inherited Frank's manuscripts, launched a conclusive investigation verifying the authenticity of the diary.

Literary Qualities

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Anne records her personal actions and feelings in warm, simple conversational language. Her images are vivid; her writing is sincere. She addresses Kitty, the diary, as a human being as she uncovers her true self. Anne describes characters' daily trials and tribulations in such detail that the reader gets to know all of them intimately. These details, combined with Anne's unaffected style, make all the more realistic a story that has captured the hearts of people throughout the world.

Anne Frank is, in a sense, an example of dramatic irony because, unlike the narrator, the reader knows how the story will end. This knowledge on the part of the reader lends a sharp poignancy to the optimism of Anne's last entry.

Social Sensitivity

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The primary social issue addressed in Anne Frank is obviously the persecution of Jews. A familiarity with the history of anti-Semitism may help the reader to better understand the events of the book. Not a new practice, anti-Semitism can be traced back to biblical times and has taken various forms throughout the history of modern man. In the Middle Ages, Jews were forced to wear "Star of David" badges to distinguish them from the rest of society. Designed to humiliate, the badge was referred to as the "Badge of Shame." Similarly, when the Nazis occupied Holland, they not only required Jews to wear the badge, they also forced Jews to turn in their bicycles. Jews could shop only during restricted hours and could buy goods only from "Jewish shops."

Anne Frank is a valuable introduction to the Holocaust because it provides a good deal of information about this extremely violent event without subjecting readers to gory details. Anne shares her knowledge and feelings about the suffering the war has brought and tells of families separated and taken away in cattle cars to a place of no escape. She realizes that the terrible conditions under which she lives in hiding are nonetheless better than those endured by Jews on the outside.

Bibliography

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Berryman, John. The Freedom of the Poet. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976. Berryman’s essay “The Development of Anne Frank” reads the diary as an important document about a girl’s maturation into an adult. Berryman draws heavily upon specific examples from the diary, interpreting them well, sometimes in Freudian terms.

Bettelheim, Bruno. Surviving and Other Essays. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979. In his essay “The Ignored Lesson of Anne Frank,” this noted child psychologist and concentration camp survivor criticizes Otto Frank for not fleeing Holland when he could and for trying to sustain some semblance of normal life for his exiled family. Bettelheim suggests that, once in their situation, the Franks might have armed themselves and had a shoot-out when the Grüne Polizei arrested them.

Ehrenburg, Ill’ia. Chekhov, Stendhal, and Other Essays. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963. Ehrenburg’s chapter “Anne Frank’s Diary” deals feelingly with Anne’s recollection of her school days and with the personal contradictions that one expects to find in a girl at the formative stage Anne was in when she went into hiding.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition. Edited by David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom. Translated by Arnold J. Pomerans and B. M. Mooyaart-Doubleday. New York: Doubleday, 1989. The most important piece of Anne Frank scholarship. Besides offering detailed chapters about the Franks’ background and their arrest and subsequent detention, it provides the only complete version of the diary in its various forms. Indispensable for those seriously interested in Anne Frank research.

Morton, Frederic. “Her Literary Legacy.” The New York Times Book Review, September 20, 1959, 22. In this review of The Works of Anne Frank, Morton attempts an objective assessment of her writing. He concludes that none of it has the power and literary strength of the diary, her best-known book.

Bibliography

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Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. Edited by Otto Frank and Miriam Pressler. New York: Doubleday, 1995. Contains passages from two versions of Frank’s diary entries in addition to the original text published in English in 1951.

Frank, Anne. Tales from the Secret Annex. Translated by Ralph Manheim and Michel Mok. 1949. Reprint. New York: Bantam, 1994. A collection of Frank’s short stories, an unfinished novel, fables, personal narratives, and excerpts from her diary excluded from the original published version.

Gies, Miep, and Alison Gold. Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of Miep Gies Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family. London: Corgi, 1988. A vital retelling by the heroic woman who protected the Franks and saved Anne’s diary.

Gold, Alison Leslie. Memories of Anne Frank: Reflections of a Childhood Friend. New York: Scholastic Press, 1997. The recollections of Hannah Pick-Goslar, one of Frank’s childhood friends who was also imprisoned with Anne and Margot Frank in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Includes photographs.

Lindwer, Willy. Last Seven Months of Anne Frank. Translated by Alison Meersschaert. New York: Pantheon, 1991. Presents interviews with Anne’s friends at Bergen-Belsen who witnessed her deterioration and death.

Müller, Melissa. Anne Frank: The Biography. Translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber. New York: Henry Holt, 1998. This biography contains information about five missing pages from Frank’s diary that were withheld by her father for decades. Includes illustrations.

Prose, Francine. Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife. New York: Harper Collins, 2009. This work argues that Anne Frank wrote her diary as a carefully crafted piece of literature, and painstakingly revised it with the intention of publishing it after the war. Prose uses material from several sources to present this idea, and creates a valuable teaching guide for high school and college students.

Ritter, Carol, ed. Anne Frank in the World: Essays and Reflection. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1998. Contains a series of essays by educators, clergy, and writers about the significance of Frank’s diary for contemporary readers. Includes chronology, bibliography, videography, and study guide.

Rol, Ruud van der. Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary—A Photographic Remembrance. Translated by Tony Langham and Plym Peters. New York: Puffin Books, 1995. Provides rare photos and insightful text, as well as placing Anne’s tragedy—she was among the one and a half million children killed by the Nazis—within the historical context of World War II.

Van Maarsen, Jacqueline. My Friend Anne Frank. Translated by Debra F. Onkenhout. New York: Vantage Press, 1996. A memoir of the author’s childhood friendship with Frank in Holland. Includes personal photographs.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Sources
Alter, Robert, Review of The Diary of a Young Girl, in New Republic, Vol. 213, No. 23, December 4, 1995, pp. 38-43.

Angier, Carole, ‘‘Spoiling a Good Story,’’ in Spectator, Vol. 278, No. 8792, February 1997, p. 30.

Berryman, John, The Freedom of the Poet, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976.

Ezrahi, Sidra Dekoven, By Words Alone: The Holocaust in Literature, University of Chicago Press (Chicago), 1980.

Gilman, Sander L., ‘‘The Dead Child Speaks: Reading The Diary of Anne Frank,’’ in Studies in American Jewish Literature, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 1988, p. 9.

Hughes, Kathleen, Review of The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, in Booklist, Vol. 91, No. 16, April 15, 1995, p. 1476.

Kamm, Anthony, Twentieth-Century Young Adult Writers, St. James Press, 1994.

Levin, Meyer, Review of The Diary of a Young Girl, in New York Times Book Review, June 15, 1952.

Moss, Joyce, and George Wilson, eds., ‘‘Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl,'' in Literature and Its Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events That Influenced Them, Vol. 4, The Gale Group, 1997.

Pommer, Henry F., ‘‘The Legend and Art of Anne Frank,’’ in Judaism, Vol. 9, No. 1, Winter 1960, pp. 37-46.

Review of The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, in Publishers Weekly, Vol. 242, No. 7, February 13, 1995, p. 70.

Romein-Vershoor, Annie, ‘‘The Book that Started a Chain Reaction: Prefaces to the Diary,’’ in A Tribute to Anne Frank, Doubleday, 1971, p. 34.

Rosenblatt, Roger, ''The Diarist: Anne Frank with a Diary Kept in a Secret Attic, She Braved the Nazis and Lent a Searing Voice to the Fight for Human Dignity,’’ in Time, Vol. 153, No. 23, June 14, 1999.

Further Reading
Block, Gay, and Malka Drucker, Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust, Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1992.
This book compiles the memories of forty-nine people who lived through World War II in Europe despite breaking the law by helping Jews to hide from persecution. The book provides photographs as well as insights into why these people made the choices they made in such a dangerous time and place.

Schabel, Ernst, Anne Frank: A Portrait in Courage, Harcourt, 1958.
Schabel provides information about Anne Frank as described by other prisoners at Westerbork, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen. These first-hand accounts portray a girl of unflagging spirit who continued to show kindness to others in a horrible situation.

Shirer, William L., The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon & Schuster, 1960.
In this classic historical review, Shirer explores the reasons behind the National Socialists' rise to power, the regime itself, and why and how it ultimately failed. The text includes material drawn from first-hand accounts of those within the regime and those persecuted by it.

vander Rol, Rund, and Rian Verhoeven, Anne Frank, Beyond the Diary: A Photographic Remembrance, Viking, 1993.
In this book, with an introduction by well-known author Anna Quindlen, the reader is treated to hundreds of photographs depicting the Franks and their surroundings in the years before World War II.

Compare and Contrast

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Early 1940s: For Frank's fifteenth birthday, she receives art history books, underwear, belts, a handkerchief, yogurt, jam, two honey cookies, a botany book, a bracelet, a sticker album, peas, candy, notebooks, flowers, and cream cheese.

Today: For her birthday, a typical fifteen-year-old girl in the United States receives such items as music CDs, hair accessories, video games, designer clothing, make-up, jewelry, gift certificates for shopping, and dinner at a nice restaurant.

Early 1940s: The hideaways' diet consists of limited portions of bread, beans, soup, turnip greens, rotten carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, pickled kale, and strawberries—but not all at once.

Today: The American diet includes abundant chicken, beef, pork, fish and seafood, pasta and grains, fruits and vegetables, and an array of fast foods and sweets.

Early 1940s: The subjects Frank studies include French, English, shorthand, genealogy, history, math, geography, mythology, theology, and social studies.

Today: Most teenagers in the United States are taught such subjects as history, math, geography, economics, government, science, literature, computer skills, and elective classes that range from music to forensics.

Early 1940s: In occupied Holland, Jews are restricted from using public transportation, entering non-Jewish shops, and attending mainstream schools. They must wear yellow stars to identify themselves, and they are subject to a strict curfew.

Today: In the United States, restrictions based on ethnicity are illegal. According to the law, everyone has equal rights, and racism and prejudice are not tolerated. While there are still incidents of racially-motivated behavior, the culture is moving toward acceptance of all people.

Early 1940s: Frank feels misunderstood and overlooked by adults. She feels that they do not understand the youth of her generation. She seeks independence from her parents and gives considerable thought to the life she wants for herself in adulthood.

Today: American teenagers generally feel the same way that Frank felt. They feel that there is a generation gap that separates them from their parents, and they seek to develop their own identities.

Related Titles / Adaptations

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Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has been adapted both to the stage and to film under the title The Diary of Anne Frank. The adaptations follow the basic ideas of the diary and capture the spirit of the young girl. The play, adapted by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, enjoyed a successful Broadway run beginning in 1955 and won a Pulitzer Prize, as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as the best new American drama. Based on the Hackett and Goodrich script, George Stevens directed a film version released by Twentieth Century Fox in 1959. Starring Millie Perkins as Anne, Joseph Schildkraut as Otto Frank, and Shelley Winters as Mrs. Van Daan, the movie was both a commercial and a critical success, with Winters garnering an Academy Award for her performance. Also based on the Hackett and Goodrich script, a successful made-for-television movie aired in 1980, directed by Boris Sagal and starring Melissa Gilbert as Anne.

Media Adaptations

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 135

The Diary of a Young Girl was adapted for the stage by the screenwriting team of Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. The play, Diary of Anne Frank, was first performed in New York City in 1955, and the play was published by Random House in 1956. The play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1956. Another stage adaptation was made for the English stage in 1955.

In 1959, a film adaptation was made by Twentieth-Century Fox. It was called The Diary of Anne Frank. A television movie version was made in 1980, starring Melissa Gilbert.

Spoken Arts released a recording of some passages of the diary in 1974, and Caedmon did the same in 1977, which was read by Julie Harris.

A three-hour television documentary called Anne Frank: The Whole Story was produced by Steven Spielberg for release by ABC in May 2001.

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