The Arty Semite

Eighty-Two Years Later, Anne Frank Remains the Subject of Commemoration and Dispute

By Ezra Glinter

  • Print
  • Share Share

If Anne Frank hadn’t died of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March, 1945, she might have turned a grand 82 years old on June 12. It’s useless to try and imagine what she — or the world — would have been like had she survived. What is certain, however, is that Frank is as present in the public consciousness as ever.

Wiki Commons

In one of the quirkier stories to come out in recent weeks, the Jewish Chronicle reported that a London theater company is taking their production of “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank” on its second tour of China only months after a sold-out first run. As the article points out, China has a unique relationship to the Holocaust. Not only did the country suffer brutally under Japanese occupation, but it also provided a safe haven to tens of thousands of Jewish refugees in Shanghai. In addition to the story of Anne Frank, Chinese interest in the Holocaust also includes the recent animated film, “A Jewish Girl in Shanghai,” which The Arty Semite covered when it screened at the Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival, and which is currently making the rounds of Jewish film festivals worldwide.

In less encouraging news, The New York Times reported last week that the tree which grew outside of Frank’s attic window, and which fell during a storm last August, is now the subject of a dispute between the Support Anne Frank Tree foundation and contractors hired to extend the tree’s life. Most disturbing, the contractors have been accused of stealing the dead tree instead of making it available to museums, which are no doubt angling for a bit of what seems more and more like a modern-day relic. Of course, the entire affair wouldn’t be complete without accusations back and forth of Nazi-like behavior.

Aside from tours of China and Dutch lawsuits, Frank is also the subject of a steady stream of new books. In March, Jerusalem-born and Brooklyn-raised author Mazal Alouf-Mizrahi released the self-published “The Silent Sister,” an imagined diary by Frank’s older sister, Margot. In an interview with The Jewish Press Mazal explained her identification with her subject: “Anne Frank represents the Holocaust-those who have a voice. Margot Frank represents those in the Holocaust who will never have a voice.”

In April, Mirjam Pressler, a German author and the German translator of Frank’s diary, published “Treasures From the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank’s Family.” The book focuses on Frank’s aunt, Helene Elias, who left behind a trove of more than 6,000 documents in her attic relating to the Frank family when she died in 2001. Together with Elias’s daughter-in-law, Gertrude, Pressler sifts through the letters, photos and postcards to piece together an unprecedentedly detailed description of Frank’s family history.

While Pressler comes as close as possible to the Frank family through documents, an even more personal approach can be found in “We All Wore Stars: Memories of Anne Frank from Her Classmates,” forthcoming in September by Theo Coster. In 1941, Coster was one of 28 classmates of Frank’s at the Amsterdam Jewish Lyceum. Along with five other members of the class who survived the Holocaust, Coster relates his memories of Frank from that time, as well as his own story of survival.

Ever since her diary was first published in 1947 (and in English translation in 1952), Frank’s legacy has been a matter of constant dispute — a fact brought once again to light by the production of “Compulsion” at The Public Theater, which tells of the feud between playwright Meyer Levin and Frank’s father, Otto. While competing claims over Frank’s legacy will probably never be settled, it is clear that she is far from being forgotten. Whether the Anne Frank that emerges from the plays, books and lawsuits is the same as the girl who would have just turned 82, however, is something we can never truly know.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Theo Coster, The Silent Sister, Otto Frank, Mirjam Pressler, Mazal Alouf-Mizrahi, Margot Frank, Holocaust, Helene Elias, China, Anne Frank Tree, Anne Frank

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!
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • 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.