My trip to Amsterdam was amazing, and one of the best – and hardest – things I did was to tour the house where Anne Frank and her family were hiding when they were betrayed to the Gestapo during WWII.
Many of us read her story when we were children, but in case you need a refresher (or were never one for paying attention), below are 8 lesser-known facts about the diary she kept that went on to become a bestseller.
8. There are many places where it’s banned.
Most people try to use Anne’s (totally normal) fascination with her anatomy as an excuse to keep the book out of the hands of children, which is, of course, totally ridiculous. Passages like the one below are developmentally appropriate, and the fact that Anne was an average girl is one of the points of putting the books in hands of girls and boys just like her.
“There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it. The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can’t imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!”
7. Most of the diary is written in the form of letters – many to a mysterious “Kitty.”
Some scholars believe “Kitty” refers to Anne’s friend Käthe “Kitty” Egyedi, but others believe it’s an imaginary pen pal, the name borrowed from her favorite book series Joop ter Heul.
Other letters in the diary are addressed to Conny, Marianne, Emmy, and Pop.
6. An Alabama school tried to ban the book for the worst reason ever.
In 1983, they gave the excuse that students shouldn’t be forced to read a book that’s “a real downer.”
5. We may never know who betrayed her and her family.
Karl Silberbauer led the raid that saw the Franks arrested and deported in 1944, and he remembered it clearly, even telling Otto “what a lovely daughter you have.”
In 1963, his connection to the war was discovered, and he was suspended from his job with the Viennese police force, reportedly responding by worrying about how he would pay for his new furniture without a paycheck.
“Why pick on me after all these years? I only did my duty.”
4. Some Holocaust deniers believe the diary is a forgery.
The documents have been analyzed for handwriting, glue, binding methods, and types of ink and paper, all of which confirm that the diary was indeed written when Anne lived in the secret annex.
3. Only one of the people hiding with Anne in the secret annex survived the war.
Anne’s father, Otto Frank, survived Auschwitz. He was liberated in January 1945 and learned by summer that he was the only of his family to remain. He published Anne’s diary in 1947 and passed away in Switzerland in 1980, at the age of 91.
2. Her diary was saved by the woman who braved death to try to hide the Franks.
Miep Gies, who helped hide the family, gathered Anne’s papers and the diary, hoping to return them to the girl after the war.
1. If she would have read it, though, she says she would have destroyed it.
Gies later said that had she read the papers, and seen that the writings incriminated everyone involved in the process of hiding Jews from the Gestapo, she would have destroyed them on the spot.
She did finally read the book once it was in its second printing.
The best way to make sure we uphold the promise of Never Again to make sure no one ever forgets, and Anne’s contribution to history will forever be an important part of our collective truth.