Hidden pages from Anne Frank's diary address sexuality, reminding us that she was also a typical teenager
Researchers in Amsterdam have uncovered the words on two hidden pages of Anne Frank’s diary in which the German-Jewish teen explored sexuality, dirty jokes, prostitution, and puberty.
A press release published by the Anne Frank House today reveals that new image processing technology finally allowed researchers to read two diary pages that the Holocaust victim had concealed with brown paper. Her diary entry was dated September 28, 1942, almost three months after the Frank family went into hiding from the Nazis during World War II.
Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House, said of the hidden pages, “Anne Frank writes about sexuality in a disarming way. Like every adolescent she is curious about this subject. She also writes about it on other, uncovered pages. Given the great public and academic interest we have decided, together with the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands, to publish these texts and share them with the world. They bring us even closer to the girl and the writer Anne Frank.”
The Associated Press reports that Frank van Vree, the director of the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, commented, “Anyone who reads the passages that have now been discovered will be unable to suppress a smile. 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.”
In addition to the dirty jokes, she addressed topics like a girl getting her period for the first time, describing it as “a sign that she is ripe to have relations with a man but one doesn’t do that of course before one is married.”
And about prostitution, she observed, “All men, if they are normal, go with women, women like that accost them on the street and then they go together. In Paris they have big houses for that. Papa has been there.”
The pages were first discovered in 2016 in her first diary with a red-checked cover. Because Frank’s diaries are so susceptible to damage, they typically only get inspected once every 10 years and those doing the job avoid touching the pages, according to the New York Times. With new photo-imaging software, researchers at the Anne Frank House, in conjunction with the two other Dutch institutes Leopold mentioned, were able to see through the concealment.
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Leopold and a senior researcher on the project, Peter de Bruijn, both expressed to the Times the value of the uncovered diary pages for offering more insight into Anne Frank’s development as a writer rather than for the content she wrote about.
Bruijn explained, “She starts with an imaginary person whom she is telling about sex, so she creates a kind of literary environment to write about a subject she’s maybe not comfortable with.”
The new text will be available on the Anne Frank House’s website but only in Dutch because of copyright laws, a spokeswoman told the Times.