UCSB Hist 33D, L 19:
Education: The Diary of Anne Frank

Prof. H. Marcuse, 5 Dec. 2002

Q5 on Anne Frank article in reader

Today's questions:
How is AF's Diary used to teach about the Holocaust?

Announcements (final sched., evaluations; journals due)

The Warsaw ghetto documentary film:
pitfalls in Holocaust education


According to Rosenfeld, what is the dominant interpretation of Anne's "message" in the diary?

Rosenfeld thinks "two critical tasks" need to be performed in an effort to reinterpret Anne Frank along historical lines. What are they?
(Hint: one is about her, the other about the story told in her diary.)

Anne Frank: Person vs. Symbol

Anne (age 4), Edith, and Margot Frank,
in Frankfurt am Main (Germany), January 1933

Contextualizing Anne Frank's Story (1929-1945)

Education: personal connection

Anne 4 years old in 1933

Biographical connection

Anne would be 73 now

Prof's father is same age

Students’ grandparents

Timeline exercise?

How Jewish was Anne?

debate in the 1950s about which screenplay

1998 biography by Melissa Mueller

2001 ABC film version (show clip: first 5 mins.)


Final exam sign-up: oral in groups of 3
2-hour take-home (on second sheet)
due date: Monday or ? or Saturday?

Tomorrow: last lecture and discussion


due today or Thursday, with 10 entries

Recommended Core for ALL Lessons


It has definite literary quality

Anne supplies the context

THEN discuss other issues

History of the WW2, Germany, Holocaust

Racism, persecution

Quality, goals of life

3 Basic Versions of Anne’s Diary

Versions of the Diary

More versions, more audiences

Dutch publisher: T II - 15 deletions (1947)

French translation (1950)

German translation (1950): typescript II

English translation (1952): hybrid (7 back in)

Critical edition of versions a, b, c (1986)

Definitive edition (1995)

Redoes synthesis by Otto in 1945-46

Stage versions (1955; 1997); film (1959)

Denial and AF's Diary

It is a forgery, not authentic

Anne's father is using it to make money

Shotgun approach: dispute every detail to cast a shadow of a doubt somewhere (Anne Frank)

The Journal of Historical Review

vol. 3 no. 2 (Summer, 1982), p. 147ff


"Is The Diary of Anne Frank genuine?" by Robert Faurisson

Is The Diary of Anne Frank genuine? For two years that question was included in the official syllabus "Text and Document Criticism," a seminar reserved for degreed students in their fourth year. The conclusion of my studies and research is that The Diary of Anne Frank is a fraud.

In order to study the question posed and to find an answer to it, I have carried out the following investigations [7 total]:

Internal criticism: the very text of the Diary (in Dutch) contains a number of unlikely or inconceivable facts.

A study of the premises in Amsterdam: on the one hand, the physical impossibilities and, on the other hand, the explanations made up by Anne Frank's father severely compromise him.

The "betrayer" and the person who arrested the Franks: why has Mr. Frank wished to assure them such anonymity?

Comparison between the Dutch and German texts: attempting to make too much of it, Mr. Frank has given himself away; he has signed a literary fraud.

Internal criticism

The first step in the investigation is to determine if the text is consistent within itself. The Diary contains an extraordinary number of inconsistencies.

Let us take the example of the noises. Those in hiding, we are told, must not make the least sound. This is so much so that, if they cough, they quickly take codeine. The "enemies" could hear them. The walls are that "thin" (25 March 1943). Those "enemies" are very numerous: Lewin, who "knows the whole building well" (1 October 1942), the men from the store, the customers, the deliverymen, the agent, the cleaning woman, the night watchman Slagter, the plumbers, the "health service," the accountant, the police who conduct their searches of the premises, the neighbors both near and far, the owner, etc. It is therefore unlikely and inconceivable that Mrs. Van Daan had the habit of using the vacuum cleaner each day at 12:30 pm (5 August 1943). The vacuum cleaners of that era were, moreover, particularly noisy. I ask: "How is that conceivable?" My question is not purely formal. It is not rhetorical. Its purpose is not to show astonishment. My question is a question. It is necessary to respond to it. That question could be followed with forty other questions concerning noises. It is necessary to explain, for example, the use of an alarm clock (4 August 1943). It is necessary to explain the noisy carpentry work: the removal of a wooden step, the transformation of a door into a swinging cupboard (21 August 1942), the making of a wooden candlestick (7 December 1942). Peter splits wood in the attic in front of the open window (23 February 1944). It involved building with the wood from the attic "a few little cupboards and other odds and ends" (11 July 1942). It even involved constructing in the attic "a little compartment" for working (13 July 1943). There is a nearly constant noise from the radio, from the slammed doors, from the "resounding peal" (6 December 1943), the arguments, the shouts, the yelling, a "noise that was enough to awaken the dead." (9 November 1942). "A great din and disturbance followed I was doubled up with laughter" (10 May 1944). The episode reported on 2 September 1942 is irreconcilable with the necessity of being silent and cautious. There we see those in hiding at dinner. They chatter and laugh. Suddenly, a piercing whistle is heard. And they hear the voice of Peter who shouts through the stove pipe that he will certainly not come down. Mr. Van Daan gets up, his napkin falls and, his face flushed, he shouts: "I've had enough of this." He goes up to the attic and there, resistance and the stamping of feet.

The remarks that I am making here in regard to noises I could repeat in regard to all of the realities of physical and mental life. The Diary even presents the peculiarity that not one aspect of the life that is lived there avoids being either unlikely, incoherent, or absurd. At the time of their arrival in their hiding place, the Franks install some curtains to hide their presence. But, to install curtains at windows which did not have them up until then, is that not the best means of drawing attention to one's arrival? Is that not particularly the case if those curtains are made of pieces of "all different shapes, quality and pattern" (11 July 1942)? In order not to betray their presence, the Franks burn their refuse. But in doing this they call attention to their presence by the smoke that escapes from the roof of a building that is supposed to be uninhabited! They make a fire for the first time on 30 October 1942, although they arrived in that place on 6 July. One asks oneself what they could have done with their refuse for the 116 days of the summer. I recall, on the other hand, that the deliveries of food are enormous. In normal conditions, the persons in hiding and their guests each day consume eight breakfasts, eight to twelve lunches and eight dinners. In nine passages of the book they allude to bad or mediocre or insufficient food. Otherwise the food is abundant and "delicious." Mr. Van Daan "takes a lot of everything" and Dussel takes "enormous helpings" of food (9 August 1943) . On the spot they make wet and dry sausages, strawberry jam, and preserves in jars. Brandy or alcohol, cognac, wines, and cigarettes do not seem to be lacking either. Coffee is so common that one does not understand why the author, enumerating (23 July 1943) what each would wish to do on the day when they would be able to leave that hiding place, says that Mrs. Frank's fondest wish would be to have a cup of coffee.

Course Evaluations

I take these very seriously
(so does the history department), so
® please give thoughtful, honest answers

In the comments section:
This is the first time I've taught this course.
What should I do differently next time?

additional topics

more/less on certain topics

workload, assignments

guest speakers, readings, films, field trip, ...

Warsaw Ghetto Documentary

1968 BBC film using 1941, 1942 and 1943 footage shot by Nazis

Adam Czerniakow's Diary, May 1942
(head of the Ghetto Judenrat  =Jewish council)