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Onstage: who censored Anne Frank?

The December 4 opening of James Lapine's new Broadway production of the 1955 award-winning play The Diary of Anne Frank has renewed interest in an old controversy. For many years questions have circulated about certain edited passages in Frank's real-life diaries. The answers lie in Amsterdam, the city in which Frank hid from the Nazis--and where The Advocate was finally able to get to the bottom of the mystery.

"Wednesday, January 5,1944... Once when I was spending the night at Jacque's, I could no longer restrain my curiosity about her body, which she'd always hidden from me and which I'd never seen. I asked her whether, as proof of our friendship, we could touch each other's breasts. Jacque refused. I also had a terrible desire to kiss her, which I did. Every time I see a female nude, such as the Venus in my art history book, I go into ecstasy. Sometimes I find them so exquisite I have to struggle to hold back my tears. If only I had a girlfriend! "

Initially the above entry was edited out of Anne Frank. Diary of a Young Girl, the compelling first-person account of what life was like for a Jewish teenager hiding from the Nazis. When the famous diaries, written in Dutch and translated into 55 languages, were published again in 1986, the passage--articulating Anne's feelings for another girl's body--was restored. What happened?

For years rumors circulated that it was Anne's father, Otto Frank, who, upon returning from Auschwitz as the sole survivor of his family, edited his daughter's diaries before they were published. This particular passage was just one of the revelations he allegedly censored.

However, according to Dineke Stam, an out lesbian who has worked at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam for seven years, these rumors about Otto Frank are false. "It was actually Anne herself who did this," Stam explained in an exclusive interview in Holland. "While she was in hiding, Anne heard a 1944 radio broadcast by the exiled Dutch prime minister, who asked that people keep all their personal diaries and letters so that the world could get an impression of what life was really like for them during the war.

"Anne had already been writing in her red-and-gray diary since getting it as a gift on her 13th birthday," Stam says. "After the broadcast she got the idea to rewrite her diary with an eye toward publication one day."

What resulted are three versions of the diary. There's the original version, before Anne rewrote it. There's Anne's own edited version. And there's Otto Frank's restored version. Stam generously showed The Advocate copies of pages from all three versions. And, indeed, the original version, never published, contains the passage about Jacque's body. The version Anne edited makes no mention of Jacque's body. "She cut it out," Stam notes, pointing to Anne's own edited entry for January 5, 1944. Then there's the third version for the same day, restored by Otto Frank after Anne's death. "Otto put it back in because he thought, This is so essential for her."

Stam believes Anne went through her diaries and changed entries she thought were silly or not written well: "You'll read where she says, `I feel so much shame when I read these pages because, although I can still remember my feelings then, I would never have written them down so bluntly now.'"

In the end Stam is sure of only one thing: "Whatever Anne would have eventually done will never be known. She couldn't finish her work because she was arrested. She was a German Jewish girl hiding in Amsterdam. In the end she was killed simply because she was Jewish. It's so important to keep her in her historical context."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:theory that Frank rewrote her diary in preparation for publication
Author:Wieder, Judy
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 23, 1997
Words:625
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