On the Book of Frank

SIMON SHEPPARD

On the Book of Frank: The Truth about the Anne Frank Diary and the New Religion was published in 1996 and is now out of print. This was the first publication I wrote and published myself, and it received criticism at the time for being "unfocused." Considering that it encompassed the Anne Frank Diary, World War II and a summary of my conclusions regarding sexual politics in all of 42 pages, this is perhaps not surprising!

Section 1 below concentrates on the Anne Frank Diary although, as the title suggests, this was a recurring theme throughout the booklet. It is quite a good summary save that quotes from the Diary relied on the English translations in the Critical Edition. Anna Frank's Novel: The ‘Diary’ is a Fraud is a more detailed and accurate analysis.




1. The True Nature of the Anne Frank Diary


There is an old riddle about a man walking along until he comes to a fork in the road. One path leads to Heaven and the other to Hell, and there is no way of knowing which is which except by asking at a nearby house. In the house live two identical sisters: one always lies, the other always tells the truth and, not knowing to which sister will answer the door, he is only allowed one question. What must he ask?

The solution to the riddle is to pose the question "What would your sister say if I asked her which road I should take?" By this means a single negation is introduced into the reply, regardless of which sister answers the question; then the opposite path is taken. However this riddle and its solution is set in a simple, invariant world where one person always lies and one always tells the truth. Real life, of course, is not that simple.

Several prominent Revisionists, notably Faurisson and Harwood, have been convinced that the diary of Annelies Maria Frank is a forgery and a number of assertions to this effect have appeared in Revisionist publications. Notwithstanding, these conclusions were reached before the original manuscript of the Diary was subjected to a thorough examination by the Dutch Forensic Laboratory, and it appears that they are mostly wrong. This critique of The Diary of Anne Frank began because it is important for historical accuracy, and the perceived legitimacy of other Revisionist claims, that the record be set straight.

The Anne Frank Diary: The Critical Edition, published in Dutch in 1986 and in English in 1989, is a 719-page analysis of the extant diaries of Anne Frank. This Critical Edition is not really critical, but it does document every piece of her diary and includes details of its forensic examination. Following the publication of the complete manuscript and the forensic results it can no longer seriously be doubted that the Diary was by AMF's own hand. The only other scenario which can be envisaged is that someone (the most likely candidate being Otto Frank) planned to forge the diary several years in advance, going to such extreme lengths to establish its authenticity beforehand that he concocted an assortment of material in his daughter's name before the diary was started. That material, dating from 1936, was used during the forensic examination as independent 'standards' to verify the handwriting in the original manuscript of what is now known as The Diary of Anne Frank. The standards include cards and letters sent from Holland to Germany bearing the code-marks of the Nazi postal censor which are now known to philatelists.

The original manuscript of the Diary is now in a bank vault, having been left to the Dutch State Institute for War Documentation (the Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, RIOD) by Otto Frank. The forensic examination which ensued was certainly overdue, and it is admitted in the Critical Edition that Mr. Frank did not go out of his way to rebut attacks on the authenticity of the Diary. His reticence to permit a full examination of the manuscript was ostensibly to protect certain individuals mentioned in it about whom personal comments were made, and there are a number of passages in which AMF details her early sexual development. Throughout his life Otto Frank insisted that the Diary contained the "essence" of his daughter's writing, and it might equally be argued that the essence of the charge against it – that it is fraudulent – is fair, because the Diary has been so exceptionally treated that it becomes debatable whether it is truly a diary at all. First and foremost, unlike a normal diary, its entries were rewritten up to two years after they were set down. Secondly, an unquantifiable proportion of its entries have little or no basis in reality. Here I shall show that the Diary is not a forgery, but that the fraudulence it contains is due to a cumulation of distortions started by Anne Frank herself. Indeed it is proposed that it is worse than a forgery by being a more convincing hoax: it is an unreliable mixture of fact and fantasy.

Fundamentals

All of the eight Jews who went into hiding in Prinsengracht 263 on or after 6 July 1942 were émigrés from Germany who had been declared stateless: the Franks were from Frankfurt-am-Main, the van Pels family was from Osnabrück and Pfeffer was from Giessen. Like the majority of German and other European Jews, they had emigrated; Germany's Jewish population had fallen from 560,000 in 1933 until by the start of the war in 1939 only 200,000 remained. Holland, which had remained neutral during WWI, was considered to be safe from encroachment by the Nazis and its invasion on 10 May 1940 came as a complete surprise.

The following statement may seem facile but it evidently sometimes needs expressing. War is not nice; it is the most austere of games and usually results in the violent death, injury, imprisonment and exodus of large numbers of people. Why then, with a total death-toll of WWII of around 42 million people, have the writings of Anne Frank claimed so much attention? The unique feature of Frank's writings and, discounting unbridled sentimentality, the likely answer to this question is that only her accounts were revised afterwards.

The Form of the Original Manuscript

The idiosyncracy of AMF in alternating between writing in a flowing (cursive) script and sometimes reverting to child-like single characters (handprinting), upon which some critics of the Diary have made great play, seems to be a characteristic displayed by about one in six of her peer group (C. E. p. 105). In the original manuscript the handprinting is most prevalent in the earlier sections. Cursive writing and handprinting is sometimes combined on the same page.





Table 1. The Form of the Original Text
  Part Form Pages When written
Version a 1.
1a.
2.
3.
Autograph Album
(Unknown – lost)
Exercise Book
Exercise Book
122

203
128
12 Jun. 1942 – 5 Dec. 1942

22 Dec. 1943 – 17 Apr. 1944
17 Apr. 1944 – 1 Aug. 1944
Version b 4 Loose Sheets 324 20 May 1944 – 1 Aug. 1944
Tales 5 'Verhaaltjesboek'    


The complete manuscript consists of five extant parts although Part 5 is stories. We might regard Parts 1-3 as the real diary: this is denoted here, as in the Critical Edition, as 'Version a.' Part 4, the Loose Sheets and denoted 'Version b,' comprises the revision which was undertaken by AMF herself between 20 May 1944 and 1 August 1944, and this was the basis for the published Diary.

It becomes clear from a study of the complete diary that many contemporaneous events mentioned in Version b do not appear in Version a. It seems likely therefore that Frank either maintained a separate diary or had access to old newspapers or other sources when Version b was prepared. It is inconceivable that she failed to write at all between 6 December 1942 and 21 December 1943, so it seems certain that at least one part of the original diary manuscript has been lost.

Passages appended 'omitted' which follow are those which do not appear in versions of the Anne Frank Diary other than the Critical Edition.

The True Nature of the Diary

Anne Frank was inspired to revise her writings by the words of Bolkestein, the Dutch Minister of Education, Art and Science in exile, in a BBC Radio broadcast of 28 March 1944. This is detailed in the diary entry for 29 March 1944 (Version a). On 20 May 1944 (Version a, omitted) the start of her book is recorded. It was to be called 'Het Achterhuis.'

The following passage near the beginning of the Diary (20 June 1942, Version b) exemplifies its true nature:

It's an odd idea for someone like me, to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I – nor for that matter anyone else – will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl

– because it was actually written within a few days of 20 May 1944 (at which time AMF was almost 15). Many other entries for this period are also new in Version b. Only after 29 March 1944 is the text unrevised. Gerrold van der Stroom, writing in the Critical Edition, stated that "she changed, rearranged, sometimes combined entries of various dates, expanded and abbreviated" (C. E. p. 61). H. J. J. Hardy of the Dutch Forensic Science Laboratory, again writing in the Critical Edition, reported that:

Because changes with handwriting characteristics with time in Part 3 are paralleled by changes in the loose sheets, the latter, which were written at the same time, can be dated more closely. It appears that the writer worked more intensely on the loose sheets, particularly during the period between July 15 and August 1, 1944. During that period 162 pages were completed, or about 11 pages a day (C. E. p. 159).

Two examples of the nature of AMF's first diary and its subsequent revision are given in Table 2. The original entry for 7 January 1944 smacks of wishful thinking, and is not credible. The second version is revised so that it falls into the realm of believability. Most of the characters were given pseudonyms in the published Diary according to a list drawn by AMF. A large proportion of what is written is so mundane that it is unworthy of further comment; passages such as "Title for this chapter: Ode to my fountain pen" (11 November 1943, Version b) and "When I had to use the potty I deliberately made a lot of noise in order to put a stop to his snoring" (8 March 1944, Version a, omitted). Still more is so private ("My vagina is getting wider all the time," 10 October 1942, Version a, omitted) that it would ordinarily be unworthy of publication. The actual content would be undeserving of interest had not doctored versions of the diary sold more than 15 million copies over five decades.





Table 2. Two Examples of the Diary's Revision by AMF
  Version a Revised Version b
7 Jan. 1944 "I went to the Jewish Secondary School, almost all the boys in my class were keen on me." "I went to the Jewish Secondary School. Lots of boys in our class were keen on me."
12 Jan. 1944 "Isn't it odd, Kitty, that sometimes I look at myself through someone else's eyes? I see quite keenly then how things are with Anne Frank." "I have an odd way of sometimes, as it were, being able to see myself through someone else's eyes. Then I view the affairs of a certain Anne Robin at my ease, and browse through the pages of her life as if she were a stranger."


AMF variously addressed her diary entries to Conny, Emmy, Jetty, Kitty or Kit, Lou, Marianne, Phienny and Pop. Most or all of these names derive from a series of story books for young girls by Cissy van Marxfeldt (C. E. p. 223), but all entries in the published version are to Kitty. For Frank the diary appears to have served the simultaneous roles of confidante, confessional, been a vehicle for her pubescent concerns and fantasies ("Countless admirers and lovable young men have begged for my favours" 12 March 1944, Version a, omitted) as well as substituted for the circle of friends from which she had been separated. This is plain from a number of entries, and several clearly indicate that her journal (as opposed to the tales) was not initially intended for publication. Indeed, she asked her protectors several times for a book with a lock. "Dear Diary, I hope no-one will ever read you except my dear sweet husband" she wrote in one entry (28 September 1942, Version a, omitted) and, in another, "Dear Kitty... I must tell someone, and you are the best one to tell, as I know that come what may you always keep a secret" (6 January 1944, Version a).

In one passage (7 August 1943, Version b, omitted), duplicated in the 'Verhaaltjesboek' (Tales), "Kitty is the girl next door" and later, in what is supposed to be reality, the dialogue became two-way: "Dear Kitty, you asked me what my hobbies and interests were" (6 April 1944, Version a).





Table 3. Some of the Names used in the Anne Frank Diary
Albert Dussel Pseudonym for Freidrich 'Fritz' Pfeffer
Anne Robin Anne Frank
Bep Nickname for Elisabeth van Wijk-Voskuijl
Mrs. Beverbruck Derogative nickname for Mrs. Auguste van Pels
Boche A cat
van Daan Pseudonym for the van Pels family
Elli Nickname for Elisabeth van Wijk-Voskuijl
Gusti Nickname for Mrs. Auguste van Pels
Hello Nickname for Helmuth Silberberg
Henk Pseudonym for Mr. Jan Gies
Kerli Nickname for Mrs. Auguste van Pels
Kitty The imaginary addressee of the diary. The names Conny, Emmy, Jetty, Jet, Jettje, Kitty, Kit, Lou, Loutje, Marianne, Marjan, Phienny, Phien, Pien Pop and Poppie were also used
Koophuis Pseudonym for Johannes Kleiman
Kraler Pseudonym for Victor Kugler
Lotje Nickname for Charlotte Kaletta
Mansa Nickname for Mrs. Edith Frank
Miep van Santen Pseudonym for Hermine Gies-Santrouschitz
Moortje A cat
Mouschi A cat
Petel Nickname for Peter van Pels
Pim Nickname for Mr. Otto Frank
Putti Nickname for Mr. Hermann van Pels
Tommy A cat
Vossen Pseudonym for Mr. Voskuijl


The commentators in the Critical Edition repeatedly remark on the fluency of much of the writing: a large proportion of it was "penned with great ease," "penned with fluency" and so forth. It seems that much of the time Frank was writing quickly and uncritically. Only slightly less objectively we might surmise that Frank was writing the first thing that came into her head. Half a dozen entries in the published Diary are taken from the 'Verhaaltjesboek' and so are particularly indistinguishable from fiction. For Annelies Frank the boundary between reality and fantasy was blurred, probably especially so near the end of the period in hiding.





Table 4. Chronology Surrounding the Anne Frank Diary
12 Jun. 1929 Annelies Maria Frank born in Frankfurt, Germany
Mar. 1934 Frank family finish moving to Amsterdam
6 Jul. 1942 Frank family go into hiding
16 Nov. 1942 Dentist Pfeffer joins group in hiding
4 Aug. 1944 Eight in hiding arrested, sent to Westerbork
3 Sept. 1944 Eight began their deportation to Auschwitz
5-6 Sept. 1944 Eight arrived at Auschwitz
Oct. 1944 AMF and MF moved to Bergen-Belsen
16 Jan. 1945 Peter van Pels transferred from Auschwitz to Mauthausen
27 Jan. 1945 Auschwitz liberated by Russians; Otto Frank in hospital
5 Mar. 1945 Otto Frank began journey back to Amsterdam
9 Apr. 1945 Auguste van Pels arrived at Theresienstadt
3 Jun. 1945 Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam
3 Apr. 1946 Het Parool article by Jan Romein
1947 Publication of Typescript II as Achterhuis: Dagboekbrieven
1950 Publication of Typescript II as Das Tagebuch
1950 Publication of Het Achterhuis as Le Journal
1951 Publication of Diary of a Young Girl in the UK and US
1957 Establishment of the Anne Frank Foundation
1960 Anne Frank House opened as a museum


Throughout the Diary there are references to the need for silence within the annexe and the factory to which they had access when the staff were absent. (AMF refers to "the house" but in fact it was a factory, to which they usually had unrestricted access during lunchtimes and evenings.) The celebrated vacuum cleaner was in daily use until it broke down, presumably permanently this time, on 3 November 1943 (Version b, omitted). In reality it is likely that the professed need for silence was a device used by the elders of the household to suppress AMF's incessant chatter: at one point she refers to herself in the third person as "Miss Quack-Quack" (29 September 1942, Version b). Supposedly in trouble at school for being an "incurable chatterbox" she had to write an essay on the theme, and "My arguments were that talking is a feminine characteristic and that I would do my best to keep it under control, but I should never be cured, for my mother talked as much as I, probably more, and what can one do about inherited qualities?" (21 June 1942, Version b).

Not only does the following passage conflict with the supposed need for quiet, it is a striking example of aberrant behaviour within the annexe:

I have a brand new prescription against gunfire: during particularly loud bangs hasten to the nearest wooden stairs, run up and down a few times and make sure that you fall gently downstairs at least once. What with the scratches and the noise of the running and falling, you are too busy to listen to the gunfire let alone worry about it. The writer of these lines has certainly used this ideal recipe with success! (2 June 1944, Version a, omitted).

It also becomes clear from a study of the complete diary that many people knew of the existence of the group in hiding, not least of whom were the vegetable suppliers (29 March 1944, Version a, omitted). The harbouring of Jews by the Dutch during this period was commonplace. The 'spy plot' involving Pfeffer detailed in the entry of 13 November 1942 (Version a, omitted) is ludicrous and plain childish fantasy, and is yet another passage which does not appear in the published Diary. On 9 April 1944 (Version a, passage omitted) Frank inexplicably wrote that fifteen people were hiding in the premises. That Frank was suffering some form of mental derangement resulting from her extended confinement within Prinsengracht 263 seems very likely. By 28 January 1944 (Version b) Frank reports that her cohabitants' "imaginations run away with them," but she evidently excludes herself from this observation.

Instances where entries were written on successive pages but with incongruous dates are interspersed throughout the original manuscript, as are duplicate entries bearing different dates. Several entries were pasted into the diary at a later date. At least one entry date was crossed out, rewritten, and then crossed out again. The Version b entry for 30 October 1943 appears in the published Diary dated 7 November 1942, and this is one instance of date changing which cannot be attributed to AMF herself.

Another example of the latitude AMF allowed herself is provided by the entry of 10 November 1942 (Version a). In it she described Peter's birthday two days previously and the landing of Allied troops in North Africa. In her revised version however (9 November 1942, Version b) she added comments made in a speech at the time by Churchill, changed the source of her information ("happened to hear on the radio" to "Mr. v. P... announced that...") and further changed the date of her entry to that of the preceding day. This latter alteration results in the report of Churchill's speech appearing in The Diary of Anne Frank the day before it was actually made.

After a thorough, critical study of the Diary, one is struck above all by the extraordinary slipperyness of it. One cannot say that it is an outright hoax, but seemingly at every stage in its production creeping distortion and insidious untruth has been introduced. The corruption is of a nature which defies description in a few words, and it has taken many hours of patient research to get to the bottom of it. Those passages which are pure fantasy were omitted from the published Diary and these were only revealed with the publication of the complete diaries in the Critical Edition. Even the translation of the Diary into English is complaisant: its original title, 'Het Achterhuis,' is literally 'The Behind House' or 'The Rear Annexe' but this is now translated as 'The Secret Annexe' (Het Geheim Achterhuis). When AMF states in the entry of 29 March 1944 (Version a) that she is thinking of producing a novel of that name, the Dutch for 'a novel,' een roman, is suddenly, and incorrectly, translated as "a romance."

In summary, the published Diary of Anne Frank, covering the period 12 June 1942 to 1 August 1944, was actually written between 20 May 1944 and 1 August 1944. It consists of a substantially revised compilation of her earlier diary and was described by her as a novel.




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