Reading diaries helps us understand the past. Anne keeps a diary because she lacks a close friend. Writing helps her endure the hiding better. What many people do not know: Anne wrote various texts. And she revised her diary entries for publication. This section provides information about the different versions of Anne’s diary. And gives you the chance to write something yourself.
“[…] will I ever become a journalist or a writer? I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, because writing allows me to record everything, all my thoughts, ideals and fantasies.” Anne Frank
The Versions of Anne’s Diary
“History cannot only be written on the basis of official decisions and documents alone.”
Gerrit Bolkestein, radio announcement.
The radio broadcast by the Dutch Minister Bolkestein is what leads Anne to rewrite her diary: When the war is over, she hopes to publish a book about her time in hiding. She already has a title: “The Secret Annex.” She begins the editing on 20 May 1944: She writes many new entries and leaves a lot out. Her book is unfinished. Anne writes in her diary on 20 May 1944: “At long last after a great deal of reflections I have started my ‘Achterhuis’, in my head it is as good as finished, although it won’t go as quickly as that really, if it ever comes off at all.” Due to a lack of blank notebooks, Anne edits her diary on loose sheets of paper. It is very painful for Otto to read the diary of his murdered daughter. He learns a lot about Anne that he did not know before. After much hesitation and urging by acquaintances, he finally decides to fulfil Anne’s wish and publish the diary. He compiles a text from Anne’s diary and her edited versions. He publishes it as a book in 1947. It is called “The Secret Annex.” It becomes world-famous.
Examples of the Different Versions of Anne’s Diary:
“At the beginning of the New Year, the second great change, my dream…and with it I discovered Peter, discovered a second and as hard a conflict, discovered my longing for a boy […]. But in due time I quieted down. Now I only live for Peter, for on him will depend what will happen to me from now on!”
“At the beginning of the New Year the second great change, my dream…and with it I discovered my boundless desire for all that is beautiful.”
“At the beginning of the New Year: the second great change…my dream. And with it I discovered my longing for a boyfriend […]. In due time I quieted down and discovered my boundless desire for all that is beautiful and good.”
Anne is a confident young woman who wants to become a writer. She is a stateless Jew who wants to be Dutch. In primary school, Anne likes to try out new roles in plays. She calls herself “a bundle of contradictions.” By that she means: she is superficial and funny in company, but serious and thoughtful when she is alone. For the Nazis, Anne was only one thing: Jewish. A person has different identities – what do they consist of?
“I'm becoming more and more independent of my parents. [...] I know what I want, I have a goal, I have opinions, a religion and love. If only I can be myself, I'll be satisfied. I know that I'm a woman, a woman with inner strength and a great deal of courage.” Anne’s diary, 11 April 1944
Commemoration is a way of interacting with the past. Usually it involves the acknowledgement of pain. And affirmation that this story is important. There are many memorials in public places. Where they are presented is important. They remind us of something that should not be forgotten. Commemoration is politically contested. People fight about it in public: What should be remembered? And what should not?
“Unfortunately, the world generally does not learn from the past, but those who can, must try to ensure that the past is understood and that people learn from it. […] I look at Anne’s diary as a kind of testament. A positive work against racism and antisemitism, and for understanding between people.” Otto Frank in an interview, 1979
The end of the war is by no means the end of antisemitic attitudes. After 1945 few Nazis are sentenced. Many return to their old professions, for example in schools, politics, medicine, law and police. Even the man who supervised Anne’s arrest worked later as a police officer. Today there is the “Department for Research and Information on Antisemitism,” called RIAS. People can report antisemitic incidents there. RIAS publishes its findings. Here are a few examples. Many more can be found in the exhibition.
“We Jews […] must be brave and strong […], must do whatever is in our power and trust in God. One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we are people again and not just Jews!” Anne‘s diary, 11 April 1944
The people living in hiding are only able to catch a breath of fresh air through the attic window. This is also the only window with a view of the chestnut tree in the back courtyard. All the other windows in the hiding place are covered by curtains during the day and darkened at night. The view out the window must have stirred longings and dreams. The chestnut tree invited contemplation. Visitors can write their own thoughts on a “chestnut leaf” in the exhibition. The leaf will be added to Anne’s chestnut tree. The more leaves the tree has, the more voluminous this special guestbook becomes.
“The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swooped through the air, and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn't speak.” Anne’s diary, 23 February 1944