The Diary of Anne Frank

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Memoir

By Grace O’Reilly

Originally written in Dutch, this diary belonged to Anne Frank.  The original title was Het Achterhuis, which translated means, The Secret Annex.  It was published in its original language in the Netherlands on 25th June 1947.  It was translated to English by B.M Mooyaart-Doubleday and published in the English language in 1952.  There were two English versions published, one for Great Britain and the other for the United States.

This autobiographical book made a huge impact on readers from all around the world, and still does today.  The Diary of Anne Frank takes us into the frightening life of a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl during the reign of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi’s during the second World War.  It is about her life hiding from the Nazis and what she felt and endured during this terribly unjust, cruel and infamous time in history.  No matter how you look at it, Anne really was just a little girl, born in 1929, and dying in 1945.  Her sister and parents moved from Germany to the Netherlands to run from Hitler and the Nazis, when these anti-Semitics came to power in 1933.

The Diary of Anne Frank started off as a blank notebook, in which Anne was gifted on the 12th June 1942, to mark her thirteenth birthday.  This teenager didn’t use the typical ‘Dear Diary’ opening that so many of us have and do use, to start off a new diary entry.  No, Anne opened her entries off with ‘Dear Kitty’.  The red checkered autograph book she chose the day previous to her birthday in a bookstore with her Father Otto, and was the first volume of her diaries.  This notebook covered the period of June 12th to December 5th 1942.  The second found diary was an old school copybook was dated December 1943 to 17th April 1944.  It is presumed the missing diary got lost in the arrest and clearing off their hiding space.  The third existing diary covered 17th April to 1st August 1944, when Anne wrote in it for the last time three days before her own arrest.

Anne actually had two different diaries.  Diary A, was in a notebook and the original diary from her thirteenth birthday.  However, Diary B was written on loose papers, and had some extra parts added while at the same time eliminating some writings originally logged.  The Diary of Anne Frank has been translated and published in over seventy languages.  The first transcription of Anne’s diary was by her Father Otto, and into German, for family and friends in Switzerland, who persuaded him to get it published.

The book has had an awful lot of controversary over the years.  There has been bans on the book in certain places and classrooms, vandalism of some of the books and other material related to the Holocaust and issues regarding censored pages not being published.

Anne’s Diary has been adapted into both theatre and film.  In 1955 a play written by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich based on the diary won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955.  A film followed shortly after where Shelley Winters won an Academy Award and donated her Oscar to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.  The first major adaption to use actually quoted texts from the diaries themselves was the play Anne in 2014, associated with the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel.  After a two-year run of the play, non-stop in the purpose built Theater Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the play went on to have showings in both Germany and Israel.  There were many other adaptions dramatised on the stage including the Wendy Kesselman adaption in 1997.  The actress looks uncannily similar to Anne Frank herself.  The Secret Annex in 2014, written and acted by Alix Sobler, told and tells a ‘what if Anne had survived the war’ tale.  2016 saw the first German film version of Anne’s diaries, written by Fred Breinersdorfer released by NBCUniversal, derived from the 2014’s Dutch stage creation.

Intrigued and interested?  Pick up a copy and give The Diary of Anne Frank a read.  Anne is one of history’s most loved figures and her diaries are one of the most important war documents in world history.

(c) Grace O’Reilly

Order your copy online here.

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