Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

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...

(The entire section is 536 words.)