Had she survived, Anne Frank would have turned 88 on June 12. The Diary of Anne Frank has been read by millions around the world. I remember vividly the difficulties Anne endured hiding in cramped quarters with so many different personalities. “The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings; otherwise, I’d absolutely suffocate,” she wrote near the end in March 1944. As with so many readers, I was so hoping she and her family would escape the Nazi’s.
In mid-May, two new pages that Anne had covered over with gummed brown paper were finally published. The pages had apparently been covered to keep her risqué writing from her family. New techniques in imaging allowed researchers to finally read them.
According to the BBC, the entries were written on 28 September 1942. “I’ll use this spoiled page to write down ‘dirty’ jokes”, she wrote on a page with a handful of crossed-out phrases – and jotted down four dirty jokes she knew. “Anyone who reads the passages that have now been discovered will be unable to suppress a smile,” Frank van Vree, director of the Niod Institute said. The Institute helped decipher the pages from photographs taken in 2016.
The ‘dirty’ jokes are classics among growing children. They make it clear that Anne, with all her gifts, was above all also an ordinary girl.
The Anne Frank Museum, who agreed to publish the pages said the new material doesn’t alter her image. Over the decades Anne has grown to become the worldwide symbol of the Holocaust, and Anne the girl has increasingly faded into the background,” it said in a statement. “These – literally – uncovered texts bring the inquisitive and, in many respects, precocious teenager back into the foreground.”
Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in a secret annex of her father’s business on 5 July 1942 – about a month after she received a diary for her 13th birthday. They lived in hiding with friends, the Van Pels, until being discovered in 1944. How they were exposed after successfully hiding for long remains a mystery.
On her birthday, celebrate that what begins as the most ordinary of writing can turn into something extraordinary. In Anne Frank’s case, her teenage diary gave us a first-person account of history.
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