Scrapbookpages Blog

February 19, 2010

The Diary of Anne Frank – Is it authentic?

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:48 am

There is a subset of Holocaust denial which involves the denial of the Diary of Anne Frank as an authentic true story written by Anne herself.  The leading proponent of this denial is French professor Robert Faurrison who wrote an article in 1978, entitled “The Diary of Anne Frank – Is it authentic?”

Faurrison is now 80 years old, the same age as Anne Frank would be if she were still alive. He claims that the Diary of Anne Frank is fiction and that it was written by her father, Otto Frank.

With all due respect to Mr. Faurrison, I think that he and all the other deniers of the Diary of Anne Frank are completely and totally wrong.

Here is my answer to those who claim that the Diary of Anne Frank is fiction written by Otto Frank:

1.  The deniers claim that the Diary of Anne Frank was written with a ball point pen, so the Diary can’t be authentic since ball point pens were not in use until 1951.

The first edition of the Diary of Anne Frank was published by her father in 1947.  Was the Diary written after it was published?

There are allegedly a few notes in the margins of Anne’s original manuscript, which were written with a ball point pen, but it is easy to see that the whole manuscript, some of which is on display in the Museum in Amsterdam, was not written with a ball point pen.

2.  Anne wrote that when the Franks moved into their hiding place, they immediately put up curtains.  Faurrison thinks that the curtains would have  alerted the neighbors to the fact that someone was living in the annex. He assumes that the neighbors would have immediately come to the conclusion that some Jews had gone into hiding.

The neighbors did notice the curtains, but they thought nothing of it, since the annex had previously been used by Otto Frank for his business.  The neighbors assumed that the annex was now being used again for office space for Otto Frank’s business.  At night, all the windows of every building in Amsterdam were covered with blackout cloth because of allied bombing, so the lights in the annex could not be seen at night.

3.  Anne writes about all the noise that they made while in hiding. Faurrison thinks that, with all this noise, the people in hiding would have been caught long before two years and one month, when they were finally reported to the Gestapo.

In particular, Anne wrote in her diary on August 5, 1943 that Mrs. van Pels vacuumed her beautiful rug at 12:30 p.m.  Then she added that Mr. van Maaren and Mr. de Kok had gone home for lunch. Anne didn’t say that Mrs. van Pels always vacuumed the rug at 12:30 p.m. but she could have, since all the workers, who weren’t in on the secret, left the office each day from noon to 1 p.m. so this was the perfect time for vacuuming.

Anne also wrote that an alarm clock might go off at any hour of the day or night.  The annex was a separate building and only the ground floor of the annex was used by the workers.  The people in hiding spent most of their time on the third floor above the ground floor, which would be the fourth floor in American terms.  The sound of an alarm three stories above them probably could not be heard by the workers on the ground floor.

At night and on weekends, the people in the annex could make noise and there was no one there to hear them. Before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m., there was no one in the main building to hear them. During the lunch hour, Anne and the others could go into Otto Frank’s office on the second floor in the main building and listen to the radio or use the toilet.

4.  Faurrison questioned the fact that Margot received her notice to report to a labor camp on July 5, 1942 and the Frank family moved into the annex the next day.  Wouldn’t the Gestapo have followed up on the notice after Margot failed to report?

Otto Frank had been preparing the annex as a hiding place for months, bringing in food and furniture.  He had also been telling people for months that the family was going to escape to Switzerland.  If the Gestapo had checked on Margot, the neighbors would have told them that the Franks had gone to Switzerland.  There were 20,000 Dutch Jews in hiding during the war; the Gestapo couldn’t spend much time searching for just one family.

5.  Faurrison says that Anne Frank’s personality was invented by Otto Frank, whom he claims is the actual author of the book. If Otto Frank had actually made up a diary, wouldn’t he have made up the diary of his older daughter Margot? One reason why some people are skeptical is because the writing in the Diary of Anne Frank is too good to have been written by a girl between the ages of 13 and 15.

Otto Frank revealed after the war that he found out that Margot also kept a diary while the family was in hiding.  Margot was three years older than Anne, and she was very quiet and reserved, not at all a brat like Anne.  Her diary never got published, probably because it was totally boring.

To me, the proof that Anne wrote the diary herself is that no one could have invented her personality, certainly not a man over fifty, like her father.  There is no way that any man could have faked the writing of a young girl who was as unique as Anne Frank. The reason that the Diary of Anne Frank is so popular is because it is genuine.  It is timeless because it captures the feelings of young girls everywhere.

6.  Faurrison questions the handwriting in the original small book that Anne received for her 13th birthday and the later handwriting in the notebooks and the 338 loose sheets, which seems to be the handwriting of an adult.

Of course, Anne’s handwriting changed during the course of the two years that she was in hiding, as she matured from a child to a young woman.  The content of her writing also changed.  The first diary entries showed a child who was very shallow and a total brat.  Her later writing showed a young girl who was becoming more mature and even more of a brat. (Yes, of course, Anne Frank was a brat.  That’s why kids today love her.  She hated her mother.  Doesn’t every teenager hate their mother?)

7. Faurrison questions whether Anne Frank would have known on October 9, 1942 that the Jews were being gassed.

At the Museum in Amsterdam, there is a poster with a quotation from Anne’s entry into her diary on October 9, 1942, regarding the gassing of the Jews:

“The English radio says they’re being gassed. I feel terribly upset.”

The following quotation, which proves that the gassing of the Jews was well known, even at this early date, is from a footnote in The Diary of Anne Frank, the Critical Edition:

In June 1942 the British press and the BBC began to refer to the gassings in Poland. Thus the 6 p.m. news on the BBC Home Service on July 9, 1942, included the following item: “Jews are regularly killed by machinegun fire, hand grenades – and even poisoned by gas.” (BBC Written Archives Center, Reading)

When Anne wrote on October 9, 1942 in the original diary (the one that she had received for her birthday in June 1942), she did not mention the gassing of the Jews. The entry on that date mentions only that Miep had told her that Jews were being “dragged from house after house in South Amsterdam.”

Anne’s original entries are called version A in the Critical Edition. The quotation that is in the Museum is from version B, which is the diary as rewritten by Anne between May 20 1944 and August 4, 1944, and published in the Critical Edition in 1986.

Version C in the Critical Edition is the diary as edited by Otto Frank who chose entries from both version A and version B, publishing it as “Het Achterhuis” in 1947. In 1952, version C was published by Doubleday & Co. in America under the title “Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl.”

As published in The Critical Edition, the following is Anne’s entry for October 9, 1942 in version B, the rewrite, which is also used as the entry for that date in version C, which was published in 1947 by Otto Frank:

“If it is as bad as this in Holland, whatever will it be like in the distant and barbarous regions they are sent to. We assume that most of them are murdered. The English radio speaks of them being gassed; perhaps that is the quickest way to die. I feel terribly upset.”

8.  Faurrison finds fault in the fact that there are two versions of Anne Frank’s Diary.

According to information given to visitors at the Anne Frank House, Anne heard on the English radio on March 28, 1944 that after the war there would be a collection of diaries published and this was what prompted her to rewrite her diary. During the period from May 20, 1944 until her arrest on August 4, 1944, Anne rewrote all the entries in her original diary up to and including her original entry for March 29, 1944, the day before she began writing with publication in mind. According to Anne’s own words, her goal was to convert her diary into “a novel about the Secret Annex.”

According to Miep Gies, who was the main helper for the people hiding in the annex, the adults in the annex all helped Anne when she rewrote her diary.  They didn’t do any of the writing, but they pointed out to her what was important to include, such as mentioning that the Jews were being gassed.

Anne was planning to hide the identity of the characters in her novel with fake names. Anne Frank was to be Anne Robin, the van Pels family was to be called the van Daan family, and Dr. Pfeffer would be called Alfred Dussel. The helpers Kleiman and Kugler would be named Koophius and Kraler. Bep would be called Elli. In the published version of the diary, only Miep is referred to by her real name.

On May 11, 1944, Anne wrote in her diary, regarding her ambition to become a famous writer:

“You’ve known for a long time that my greatest wish is to become a journalist some day and later on a famous writer. Whether these leanings towards greatness (or insanity) will ever materialize remains to be seen, but I certainly have the subjects in my mind. In any case, I want to publish a book entitled Het Achterhuis after the war. Whether I shall succeed or not, I cannot say, but my diary will be a great help.”

On May 20, 1944, Anne wrote in her diary regarding her plan to rewrite her original diary:

“In my head it’s already as good as finished, although it won’t go as quickly as that really, if it ever comes off at all.”

According to the museum exhibit, Otto Frank organized Anne’s papers and typed up what she had written. The pamphlet handed out at the museum says:

For making a transcript of Anne’s diary notations he uses Anne’s loose-leaf pages as the starting point.

Otto Frank took some entries from each version which Anne had written and combined them into the final version, which he published in June 1947 under the title that Anne had chosen: Het Achterhuis (The House Behind). One of the 1,500 copies that were printed in the first edition of the diary is on display at the museum.

Otto Frank used his own judgment in editing his daughter’s writing: he left out a few pages, added a few words here and there and changed a few sentences. He also made corrections in grammar and punctuation with the help of others whom he consulted.

All three versions of the diary can now be read simultaneously in The Diary of Anne Frank, the Critical Edition, which was prepared by the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation and copyrighted in 1986. This is a huge volume, weighing about 10 pounds, which contains diary entries that Otto Frank left out of the original version because they contained embarrassing sexual references. The book also contains the results of an extensive handwriting analysis which established once and for all that the diary is genuine, and not a fake as the deniers claim.