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Anne Frank: how she was given the diary and the covered pages that could not be read until 2018

The Frank family in 1941, from left to right: Margot, Otto, Anne and Edith (Credit: Anne Frank Stichting)

“I hope to be able to entrust everything to you as I have not been able to do so with anyone until now. I trust, too, that you will be my great support, ”he writes Anna Frank on the front page of your diary: one of the gifts you Otto and Edithhis parents, made him for his thirteenth birthday, June 12, 1942.

The blank pages of that and other notebooks were the support on which Ana recounted her life. She began with that children’s party, already conditioned by the laws of segregation towards Jews that Nazi Germany imposed when it occupied the Netherlands, and continued after July 6, 1942, when he had to abandon everything and hide, along with his parents, his sister Margot and four other people, in a secret annex, located behind a wall of Otto’s commercial property, to escape racial persecution and extermination.

Ana would spend 25 months hidden, time that she sought to go through in the best way; in his diary, he says he would think of it as “a vacation in a very strange boarding house”. During that time, he learned French, continued his studies with his father, and never stopped writing. Until the last page of August 4, 1944, the day of his arrest, expressed his concerns about the world, people and love, some of which he decided to cover up out of modesty and could only be read through technology in 2018.

Before going into hiding, Anne and her family lived in the Singel neighborhood of Amsterdam, where the Franks had moved from their native Germany in 1934 following the rise of Adolf Hitler. But the start of World War II showed that the threat could cross borders.

With the occupation of the Netherlands, the consequent anti-Jewish laws arrived in the country. That’s why, since 1941, Jews had to register as such, wear a yellow Star of David woven into their clothing, shop during reduced hours and only in businesses registered as Jewish, and abide by a curfew that began at eight at night. Also, they could not meet with Christians or play sports on public courts, and were forced to send their children to Jewish schools.

The Frank family in 1941, from left to right: Margot, Otto, Anne and Edith (Credit: Anne Frank Stichting)

Ana, an adolescent who witnesses of her life describe as very mature for her age, had suffered the rigor of these measures. “In 1934, I started school at the Montessori Kindergarten and, when I finished sixth B, I had to say goodbye to Mrs. K. We said goodbye crying. It was a very sad goodbye. In 1941, my sister Margot and I entered the Jewish school”, she relates in a presentation she made of her life for the newspaper.

In another entry in the notebook, he says: “It’s scorching hot. We are melting. To think that in this heat I have to walk everywhere… I begin to understand how wonderful a tram is, but for us Jews that pleasure is forbidden. Legs should suffice”.

Even in that suffocating environment, the Frank family wanted the youngest of their daughters to have a birthday as normal as possible. This is how she recreates it in the first entry of the diary, written two days after it was given to her: “On Friday, June 12, I woke up at six in the morning, which was not surprising because it was my birthday. Shortly after seven, along with Mom and Dad, I unwrapped my presents in the living room, and the first to greet me was ‘you’, probably the most beautiful of all my gifts”.

The notebook had been seen by her in the window of the Jimmink bookstore, a place that still exists and that is close to what was her Dutch home. It was at that address on Merwedeplein 37-2 that Ana celebrated her 13th birthday. East event, of which there are still some survivors, occupies the second entry of his diary, written on Monday, June 15, 1942: “On Sunday afternoon I had my birthday party. projection of The Lighthouse Keeper, with Rin-Tin-Tin, my classmates liked it a lot. We had a lot of fun. We were many girls and boys.

Anne Frank, second from left, with some of her friends in the Netherlands (Credit: Anne Frank Stichting)
Anne Frank, second from left, with some of her friends in the Netherlands (Credit: Anne Frank Stichting)

when conversing with THE NATION, Hector Shalomdirector of Anne Frank Center of Argentina -located at 2647 Superí Street-, pointed out that even on that happy occasion the seams of Nazi oppression were visible. “Jewish boys couldn’t go to the movies and so, Otto Frank rented a projector so they could still watch a movie.”

In addition, as explained by the person in charge of the only center recognized by the Anne Frank Foundation outside Amsterdam, “due to the laws that governed the Netherlands since 1941, they could not invite any Christian boy either” and all the children had the yellow Star of David sewn to their clothes.

Albert Gomes de Mesquita, a classmate from Ana’s high school who was invited to the birthday, visited the Anne Frank Center in Argentina in 2019 and left his memory of the party there: “She invited us to her house and I remember that, when I entered , I saw all the birthday presents on the table, among which there was his diarystill blank because it had just been given to him.

In the same way, as Shalom said, in a talk given by Gomes de Mesquita for young guides of the Center, this man who is now 92 years old recalled an anecdote he lived with Ana at school, which shows the mischief and irreverent character of the young “Albert related that the teacher was talking about donkeys and how they arise when a mule and a horse get together, to which he asked what it means to ‘get together’. Then, Ana stood up and said: ‘If you want, later I’ll explain how these things are done’”. A comment that made the whole class laugh.

Having two parents considered modern by then and an older sister made Ana a mature young woman for her age, and even more so for the canons of the time: “Ana had had access to books with sexual content that she had taken from her sister Margot,” Shalom said about it. And he added: “Sexual curiosity is a trait of that age, but not so much back then, you have to remember we’re talking about the early ’40s. Jacqueline VanMarsen [una amiga de ella del colegio, que aún vive] account that Ana was a very different girl from the rest. Her own reading made her more mature than her friends.”

That personality continued to develop in the hideout at 263 Prinsengracht, where he had to seclude himself with his family, the Van Pels family (formed by Hermann and Auguste, and their son Peter) and the dentist Fritz Pfeffer, who joined them shortly after .

The annex, or “The Back House” -as Ana called it-, consisted of two floors and a loft. The construction, located behind the building where Otto Frank had a warehouse and offices, was typically Dutch: a way to create more space to live, work or store things in the back of existing houses. The front of the building faced a canal and the entrance to the annex was hidden behind a library.

The hideout became the home of the eight, and Ana spent two birthdays inside it. At that time, continued the writing of the newspaper, forced to remain silent so as not to attract the attention of the employees who worked in the commercial part of the property under the orders of Otto’s Christian associates. Until six in the evening, the hidden families could not make loud sounds: their existence was marked by the tension of being discovered and arrested.

His only interlocutor was Kitty, the imaginary friend to whom he dedicates the “letters” what he wrote in his diary. Very different in personality from her mother and her sister, Ana opened up to her to express her most intimate concerns, curiosities and thoughts: “In the diary, There were two pages that had papier-mâché stuck to them to prevent them from being read,” said Héctor Shalom. And he deepened: “In those two pages, he makes ‘green’ jokes, talks about contraceptives and sexual contacts and also refers to the homosexuality of his maternal uncle.”

Anne Frank’s Diary was rewritten by her from November 1943 to serve as the basis for a future novel (Credit: Anne Frank Stichting).

This was not known at the time the diaries were found, kept by Miep Gies, a woman who had a close relationship with Ana and who was one of the Franks’ protectors during their confinement. This survivor of the Second World War was the one who – after her arrest – picked up her notebooks from the mess on the floor. The pages stuck to the papier-mâché could not be read; It was only in 2018 that technology made it possible to elucidate the content behind the cover that Ana placed to prevent her fellow hideouts from knowing her most intimate thoughts..

These pages, written with shame, are the only ones that have a very explicit tone, something that may also be due to the editorial work that Anne Frank herself did on her own work beginning in November 1943, when he decided to rewrite the diary so that it could be read as the basis for a novel to be called The Secret Annex. For that version, the young woman changed the original names of her companions to pseudonyms and discarded numerous fragments that she had written when she did not consider that the diary would be read by someone other than herself.

In dialogue with this medium, Héctor Shalom recalled that a part of his “spontaneous” diary was lost. This writing recounts his experiences during 11 months of the year 1943 and, in the publishing world, is known as “version A”. However, as the fate of that excerpt is a mystery, it is covered in the book by the rewritten part – that is, of “version B” – which covers that period.

The effort that Anne Frank put into rewriting her diary shows how great her desire was to recount her life experience, and the very content of the pages reflects the mind of a young woman, intelligent and hopeful, who never stopped believing in the goodness of peoplealthough his own end casts doubt on this premise: after the death of his mother and sister, Anne Frank died of typhus at the age of 15 in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

The only member of his family to survive holocaust it was his father, Otto, who -until he died in 1980- dedicated his life to publishing Ana Frank’s diary and to raise awareness, based on those words, about the dangers of hate. She also created the Anne Frank Foundation and opened a museum in her former hideout, as an attempt to honor the memory of her family and her daughter, who left a message for posterity: “It is difficult in times like these to think of ideals, dreams and hopes, only to be crushed by harsh reality. It is a miracle that I did not abandon all my ideals. However, I cling to them because I still believe, despite everything, that people are really good at the bottom of their hearts.

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