Sisterhood Blog

Why the Anne Frank YouTube Video Is So Unsettling

By Sarah Seltzer

  • Print
  • Share Share

I logged onto the computer last weekend to see that Anne Frank was a trending topic on Twitter. That was largely thanks to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which released (as the Bintel Blog reported) a new video, showing the only known footage of Anne, leaning out of a window and watching a married couple. It immediately became a hit on YouTube. Seeing such a timelessly tragic figure from another time on such definitively contemporary context — Web 2.0 — had an odd feeling to it. And then of course, Anne got caught in the middle of a bizarre dust-up between David Mamet and the Disney Studio. (Mamet’s re-imagining of the diary onscreen involved a contemporary girl going to Israel to learn about the trauma of suicide bombings) and she is the subject of a new book by Francine Prose.

It shouldn’t be shocking, or odd, that Anne Frank continues to be with us. Her image and name have become icons, instantly recognizable symbols of what the Nazis destroyed, but also of young womanhood and its possibilities. We know that her diary has been read by millions upon millions of schoolchildren around the world — I must be one among countless other young girls who started my own journal after reading it — and she’s one of the most well-known people who ever lived. But whenever anyone reaches that kind of super-iconic status, there’s a worry that the very un-iconic reality of his or her life will be lost in the shuffle.

What makes Anne’s diary so remarkable isn’t just her incredible talent as a writer, but her keen observations of the everyday textures and tones of life, and the slow and subtle way that her perspective changes as she grows up — and then of course, the realization of just what was cut off the day the Germans stormed the “Secret Annex” where she was in hiding. To have read, and loved, the diary, is to feel like one has an intimate connection with Anne, one-sided as that connection is.

Seeing her turned into a posthumous YouTube celebrity is unsettling, at best. Yes, Anne’s enduring fame means that the forces that destroyed her life will never be forgotten; she is a constant reminder of the price of war and genocide. But should that burden be thrust so thoroughly on to the shoulders of one young girl?

In case you missed the video, see it here:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Holocaust, Anne Frank, YouTube

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.