From The Journal of Historical Review, Spring 1982 (Vol. 3, No. 2), page 147
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:
- 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.
- Interview of the principal witness: Mr. Otto Frank.
- Bibliographical examination: some curious silences and revelations.
- A return to Amsterdam for a new investigation: the witnesses turn out to be unfavourable to Mr. Frank; the probable truth.
- 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.
The first step in the investigation is to determine whether 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 neighbours 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 episode reported on 10 December 1942 is of the same kind. There we see Mrs. Van Daan being looked after by the dentist Dussel. The latter touches a bad tooth with his probe. Mrs. Van Daan then lets out “incoherent cries of pain.” She tries to pull the little probe away. The dentist looks at the scene, his hands on his hips. The onlookers all “roared with laughter.” Anne, instead of showing the least distress in the face of these cries or this mad laughter, declares: “It was rotten of us, because I for one am quite sure that I should have screamed even louder.”
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. On the other hand, on 3 February 1944 — during the terrible winter of ’43/’44 — here is the inventory of the supplies available for those in hiding alone, to the exclusion of any cohabiting friend or “enemy:” 60 pounds of corn, nearly 60 pounds of beans and 10 pounds of peas, 50 cans of vegetables, 10 cans of fish, 40 cans of milk, 10 kilos of powdered milk, 3 bottles of salad oil, 4 preserving jars of butter, 4 jars of meat, 2 bottles of strawberries, 2 bottles of raspberries, 20 bottles of tomatoes, 10 pounds of rolled oats, and 8 pounds of rice. There enter, at other moments, some sacks of vegetables each weighing 25 kilos, or again a sack of 19 pounds of green peas (8 July 1944). The deliveries are made by a “nice greengrocer,” and always “during the lunch hour” (11 April 1944). This is hard to believe. In a city described elsewhere as starving, how could a greengrocer leave his store, in broad daylight, with such loads to go to deliver them to a house located in a busy neighbourhood? How could this greengrocer, in his own neighbourhood (he was “at the corner”), avoid meeting his normal customers for whom, in that time of scarcity, he ought normally to be a person to be sought out and begged for favours? There are many other mysteries in regard to other merchandise and the manner in which it reaches the hiding place. For holidays, and for the birthdays of the persons in hiding, the gifts are plentiful: carnations, peonies, narcissuses, hyacinths, flower pots, cakes, books, sweets, cigarette lighters, jewels, shaving necessities, roulette games, etc. I would draw attention to a real feat achieved by Elli. She finds the means of offering some grapes on 23 July 1943. I repeat: some grapes, in Amsterdam, on 23 July. They even tell us the price: 5 florins per kilo.
The invention of the “swinging cupboard” is an absurdity. In fact, the part of the house which is supposed to have protected the persons in hiding existed well before their arrival. Therefore, to install a cupboard is to point out, if not someone’s presence, at least a change in that part of the property. That transformation of the premises — accompanied by the noise of the carpentry work — could not have escaped the notice of the “enemies” and, in particular, of the cleaning woman. And this pretended “subterfuge,” intended to mislead the police in case of a search, is indeed likely, to the contrary, to put them on their guard. (” a lot of houses are being searched for hidden bicycles,” says Anne on 21 August 1942, and it is for that reason that the entrance door of the hiding place had been thus hidden.) The police, not finding any entrance door to the building which serves as a hiding place would have been surprised by this oddity and would have quickly discovered that someone had wanted to fool them, because they would find themselves before a residential building without an entrance!
Improbabilities, incoherencies, and absurdities abound likewise in regard to the following points: the windows (open and closing), the electricity (on and off), the coal (appropriated from the common pile without the “enemies” realizing it), the openings and closings of the curtains or the camouflage, the use of the water and of the toilet, the means of doing the cooking, the movements of the cats, the moving from the front-house to the annex (and vice-versa), the behaviour of the night watchman, etc. The long letter of 11 April 1944 is particularly absurd. It reports a case of burglary. Let it be said in passing that the police are there portrayed to us as stopping in front of the “swinging cupboard,” in the middle of the night, under the electric light, in search of the burglars who committed the housebreaking. They rattle the “swinging cupboard.” These police, accompanied by the night watchman, do not notice anything and do not seek to enter the annex! As Anne says: “God truly protected us “
On 27 February 1943, they tell us that the new owner has fortunately not insisted on visiting the annex. Koophuis told him that he did not have the key with him, and that the new owner, although accompanied by an architect, did not examine his new acquisition either on that day or on any other day.
When one has a whole year to choose a hiding place (see 5 July 1942), does one choose his office? Does one bring his family there? And a colleague? And the colleague’s family? Do you choose a place full of “enemies” where the police and the Germans would come automatically to search for you if they do not find you at your home? Those Germans, it is true, are not very inquisitive. On 5 July 1942 (a Sunday) father Frank (unless it is Margot?!) received a summons from the SS (see the letter of 8 July 1942). That summons would not have any follow-up. Margot, sought by the SS, makes her way to the hiding place by bicycle, and on 6 June, when, according to the first of two letters dated 20 June, the Jews had had their bicycles confiscated for some time.
In order to dispute the authenticity of the story, one could call upon arguments of a psychological, literary, or historical nature. I will refrain from that here. I will simply remark that the physical absurdities are so serious and numerous that they must have an effect on the psychological, literary, and historical levels.
One ought not to attribute to the imagination of the author or to the richness of her personality some things that are, in reality, inconceivable. The inconceivable is “that of which the mind cannot form any likeness because the terms which designate it involve an impossibility or a contradiction”: for example, a squared circle. The one who says that he has seen one squared circle, ten squared circles, one hundred squared circles does not give evidence either of a fertile imagination or of a rich personality. For, in fact, what he says means exactly nothing. He proves his poverty of imagination. That is all. The absurdities of the Diary are those of a poor imagination that develops outside of a lived experience. They are worthy of a poor novel or of a poor lie. Every personality, however poor it may be, contains what it is proper to call psychological, mental, or moral contradictions. I will refrain from demonstrating here that Anne’s personality contains nothing like that. Her personality is invented and is as hard to believe as the experience that the Diary is supposed to relate. From a historical point of view, I would not be surprised if a study of the Dutch newspapers, the English radio and Dutch radio from June 1942 to August 1944 would prove fraud on the part of the real author of the Diary. On 9 October 1942, Anne speaks already of Jews “being gassed” (Dutch text: Vergassing)!
A study of the premises
Whoever has just read the Diary can normally only be shocked on seeing the “Anne Frank House” for the first time. He discovers a “glass house” which is visible and observable from all sides and accessible on its four sides. He discovers also that the plan of the house — as it is reproduced in the book through the good offices of Otto Frank — constitutes a distortion of reality. Otto Frank had taken care not to draw the ground floor and had taken care not to tell us that the small courtyard separating the front house from the annex was only 12 feet 2 inches (3.7 meters) wide. He had especially taken care not to point out to us that this same small courtyard is common to the “Anne Frank House” (263 Prinsengracht) and to the house located to the right when you look at the façade (265 Prinsengracht). Thanks to a whole series of windows and window-doors, the people of 263 and those of 265 lived and moved about under the eyes and under the noses (cooking odors!) of their respective neighbours. The two houses are really only one. Besides, the museum today connects the two houses. Furthermore, the annex had its own entrance thanks to a door leading, from the rear, to a garden. This garden is common to 263 Prinsengracht and to the people opposite, living at 190 Keizersgracht. (When one is in the museum one very distinctly sees those people at 190 and many other addresses on Keizersgracht.) From this side (the garden side) and from the other side (the canal side) I counted two hundred windows of old houses from which people had a view of the “Anne Frank House.” Even the residents of 261 Prinsengracht could have access to 263 by the roofs. It is foolish to let yourself believe in the least possibility of a really secret life in those premises. I say that while taking into account, of course, the changes made to the premises since the war. While pointing out the view on the garden, I asked ten successive visitors how Anne Frank could have lived there hidden with her family for twenty-five months. After a moment of surprise (for the visitors to the museum generally live in a sort of state of hypnosis), each of the ten successive visitors realized, in a few seconds, that it was totally impossible. The reactions were varied; with some, dismay; with others, an outburst of laughter (“My God!”). One visitor, no doubt offended, said to me: “Don’t you think that it is better to leave the people to their dreams?” No one supported the thesis of the Diary in spite of some rather pitiful explanations furnished by the prospectus or by the inscriptions in the museum.
The explanations are the following:
- The “enemies” finding themselves in one of the rooms of the front house believed that the windows which look out on the small courtyard look directly on the garden; they were unaware therefore even of the existence of an annex; and if they were unaware of that, it is because the windows were hidden by black paper, to assure the conservation of the spices stored there;
- As regards the Germans, they had never thought of the existence of an annex, “especially as this type of building was quite unknown to them”;
- The smoke from the stove “did not draw their attention because at that time the part (where they were located) served as a laboratory for the small factory, where a stove likewise must have burned every day.”
The first two of these three explanations come from a 36-page booklet, without title and without date, printed by Koersen, Amsterdam. The last comes from the four-page prospectus that is available at the entrance to the museum. The content of these two publications has received the endorsement of Mr. Otto Frank. But in all three cases these explanations have not the least value. The annex was visible and obvious from a hundred aspects from the ground floor (forbidden to visitors), from the garden, from the connecting corridors on four levels, from the two windows of the office on the courtyard, from the neighbouring houses. Certain of the “enemies” even had to visit there to go to the toilet because there was nothing for that in the front house. The ground floor of the rear house even admitted some customers of the business. As to the “small factory” which is supposed to have existed “in that period,” in the very heart of that residential and commercial neighbourhood, it is supposed to have remained for at least two years without emitting smoke, and then, suddenly, on 30 October 1942 it is supposed to have begun again to emit the smoke. And what smoke! Day and night! In winter as in summer, in sweltering heat or not. In the view of everyone (and, in particular, of “enemies” such as Lewin who had formerly had his chemical laboratory there), the “small factory” would have started up again! But why did Mr. Frank strain his wits to find that explanation, when, in other respects, the annex is already described as a sort of ghost-house?
In conclusion on this point, I would say that, if I am not mistaken in denying any value in these “explanations,” we have the right to assert:
- Some facts that are very important to Mr. Otto Frank remain without explanation;
- Mr. Otto Frank is capable of making up stories, even stupid and mediocre stories, exactly like the ones I have pointed out in my critical reading of the Diary. I ask my reader to remember this conclusion. He will see below what answer Mr. Frank personally made to me, in the presence of his wife.
For the photographic documentation concerning the “Anne Frank House”, see below after the French editor’s postscript.
Interview with Otto Frank
I had made it known to Mr. Otto Frank that with my students I was preparing a study of the Diary. I had made it clear that my specialty was the criticism of texts and documents and that I needed an extended interview. Mr. Frank granted me that interview with eagerness, and it was thus that I was received at his residence in Birsfelden, a suburb of Basel, first on 24 March 1977, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., then from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and, finally, the next day, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Actually, on the next day the meeting place had been arranged to be in a bank in Basel. Mr. Frank was intent upon taking out of a safe deposit box, in my presence, what he called the manuscripts of his daughter. Our interview was therefore carried out on that day in part at the bank, in part on the road back toward Birsfelden and, in part, once more, at Mr. Frank’s residence. All the interviews that took place at his residence were in the presence of his wife (his second wife, since the first died after being deported, from typhus it seems, as did Margot and Anne). After the first minute of our interview, I declared point blank to Mr. and Mrs. Frank that I had some doubts about the authenticity of the Diary. Mr. Frank did not show any surprise. He declared himself to be ready to furnish me all of the information I would want. I was struck, during those two days, by the extreme amiability of Mr. Frank. In spite of his age – 88 years – he never used the excuse of his weariness in order to shorten our interview. In the Diary, he is described as a man full of charm (see 2 March 1944). He inspires confidence. He knows how to anticipate your unexpressed desires. He adapts himself remarkably to situations. He willingly adopts an argument based on emotion. He speaks very much of tolerance and of understanding. I only once saw him lose his temper and show himself to be uncompromising and violent; that was in regard to the Zionist cause, which must seem sacred to him. It was in that manner that he declared to me that he no longer even sets foot on the soil of France because, in his opinion, France is no longer interested in anything except Arab oil and doesn’t care about Israel. On only three points did Mr. Frank fail in his promise to answer my questions. It is interesting to know that those three points were the following:
- the address of Elli, in the Netherlands;
- the means of rediscovering the trail of the store employee called V.M. in the book (I know that he is probably named Van Maaren);
- the means of rediscovering the Austrian Karl Silberbauer who had arrested the persons in hiding on 4 August 1944.
In regard to Elli, Mr. Frank declared to me that she was very ill and that, because she was “not very intelligent,” she could not be of any help to me. As to the other two witnesses, they had had enough trouble without my going to pester them with some questions that would remind them of an unhappy past. To compensate for that, Mr. Frank recommended that I get in touch with Kraler (by his real name, Kugler), settled in Canada, and with Miep and her husband, still living in Amsterdam.
In regard to the Diary itself, Mr. Frank declared to me that the basis of it was authentic. The events related were true. It was Anne, and Anne alone who had written the manuscripts of that Diary. Like every literary author, Anne perhaps had some tendencies either to exaggeration or to imaginative changes, but all within ordinary and acceptable limits, without letting the truth or the facts suffer from it. Anne’s manuscripts form an important whole. What Mr. Frank had presented to the publishers was not the text of these manuscripts, the purely original text, but a text that he in person had typewritten: a “tapuscript.” He had been obliged to transform the various manuscripts in this way to a single “tapuscript” for various reasons. First, the manuscripts presented some repetitions. Then, they contained some indiscretions. Then, there were passages without any interest. Finally, there were some omissions! Mr. Frank, noticing my surprise, gave me the following example (a no doubt harmless example, but are there not more serious ones that he hid from me?): Anne very much liked her uncles but in her diary she had neglected to mention them among the persons that she cherished; therefore, Mr. Frank repaired that “omission” by mentioning those uncles in the “tapuscript.” Mr. Frank said that he had changed some dates! He had likewise changed the names of the characters. It was Anne herself, it seems, who had no doubt thought of changing the names. She had envisaged the possibility of publication. Mr. Frank had discovered, on a piece of paper, the list of the real names with their equivalent false names. Anne is supposed to have thought of calling the Franks by the name of Robin. Mr. Frank had cut out of the manuscripts certain indications of the prices of things. More important, finding himself, at least for certain periods, in possession of two different versions of the text, it had been necessary for him to “combine” (the word is his) two texts into one single text. Summarizing all those transformations, Mr. Frank finally declared to me: “That was a difficult task. I did that task according to my conscience.”
The manuscripts that Mr. Frank presented to me as being those of his daughter form an impressive whole. I did not have the time to look at them closely. I trusted in the description of them that was given to me and I will summarize them in the following way:
- The first date mentioned is that of 12 June 1942; the last is that of 1 August 1944 (three days before their arrest);
- The period from 12 June 1942 to 5 December of the same year (but that date does not correspond to any printed letter); we have at our disposal a small notebook with a linen cover, with a red, white and brown plaid design (the “Scotch notebook”);
- The period from 6 December 1942 to 21 December 1943; we do not possess any special notebook. This notebook is supposed to have been lost;
- The period from 2 December 1942 to 17 April 1944, then for the period from that same date of 17 April (!) to the last letter (1 August 1944); two black-bound notebooks, covered with brown paper.
To those three notebooks and to the missing notebook is added a collection of 338 loose leaf sheets for the period 20 June 1942 to 29 March 1944. Mr. Frank said that those sheets constitute a resumption and a reshaping, by Anne herself, of letters which are contained, in an original form, in the above-mentioned notebooks: the “Scotch notebook,” the missing notebook, and the first of the two black notebooks.
Up to this point the total of what Anne is supposed to have written during her twenty-five months of hiding is therefore in five volumes. To that total it is appropriate to add the collection of the Stories. These stories are supposed to have been made up by Anne. The text is presented as a perfect copy. The copy can only involve, to begin with, a work of editing from a rough draft; Anne therefore must have done a lot a scribbling!
I have no competence in the matter of handwriting analysis and therefore I cannot express an opinion on that matter. I can only give here my impressions. My impressions were that the “Scotch notebook” contained some photos, pictures and drawings as well as a variety of very juvenile writing styles, the confusion and fantasy of which appeared authentic. It would be necessary to look closely at the handwriting of the texts which were used by Mr. Frank in order to form the basis of the Diary. The other notebooks and the whole of the 338 loose leaf sheets are in what I would call an adult handwriting. As regards the manuscript of the Stories, it very much surprised me. One would say that it was the work of an experienced accountant and not the work of a 14-year-old child. The table of contents is presented as a list of the Stories with the date of composition, the title and the page number for each piece!
Mr. Frank had a high opinion of the conclusions of the two expert reports called for, about 1960, by the prosecution in Lübeck in order to examine the case of a teacher (Lothar Stielau) who, in 1959, had expressed some doubts about the authenticity of the Diary (Case 2js 19/59, VU 10/59). Mr. Frank had registered a complaint against that teacher. The handwriting report had been entrusted to Mrs. Minna Becker. Mrs. Annemarie Hübner had been charged with attesting whether the texts printed in Dutch and German were faithful to the texts of the manuscript. The two expert reports, submitted as evidence in 1961, turned out to be favourable to Mr. Frank.
But, on the other hand, what Mr. Frank did not reveal to me — and what I had to learn after my visit, and from a German source — is that the prosecutor in Lübeck had decided to get a third expert report. Why a third expert report? And on what point, given that, according to all appearances, the whole field possible for investigation had been explored by the handwriting expert and by Mrs. Hübner? The answer to these questions is the following: the prosecutor thought that an expert report of the kind done by Mrs. Hübner risked declaring that Lothar Stielau was right about the facts. In view of the first analyses, it was going to be impossible to declare that the Diary was dokumentarisch echt (documentarily genuine) (!). Perhaps they could have it declared literarisch echt (literarily genuine) (!). The novelist Friedrich Sieburg was going to be charged with answering that odd question.
Of those three expert reports, only that of Mrs. Hübner would have really been of interest to me. On 20 January 1978, a letter from Mrs. Hübner let me hope that I would obtain a copy of her expert report. A short time afterward, when Mrs. Hübner did not respond to my letters, I had a German friend telephone her. She made it known to him that “the question was very delicate, given that a trial on the question of the Diary was presently under way in Frankfurt.” She added that she had gotten in touch with Mr. Frank. According to the few elements that I possess of the content of that expert’s report, it is supposed to have noted a large number of facts that were interesting from the point of view of the comparison of the texts (manuscripts, “tapuscript,” Dutch text, German text). Mrs. Hübner is supposed to have mentioned there some very numerous “omissions” (Auslassungen), “additions” (Zusätze), and “interpolations” (Interpolationen). She is supposed to have spoken of the text “adapted” for the necessities of publication (überarbeitet). Furthermore, she is supposed to have gone so far as to name some persons who supposedly gave their “collaboration” (Zusammenarbeit) to Mr. Frank in his editing of the “tapuscript.” Those persons are supposed to have collaborated in the drawing up of the German text, in place of contenting herself with the role of translator.
In spite of those facts that she herself pointed out, Mrs. Hübner is supposed to have concluded on the authenticity of the Diary (Dutch printed text and German printed text). She is therefore supposed to have expressed the following opinion: “Those facts are not important.” Now that opinion can only be her personal view. There is the whole question: Who assures us that quite another judgment could not be brought forth on the facts pointed out by the expert? And besides, to begin with, has the expert shown impartiality and a really scientific spirit in naming the facts as she has named them? What she has called, for example, “interpolations” (a word with a scientific appearance and an ambiguous significance) would others not call them “retouchings,” “alterations,” “insertions” (words no doubt more exact, and more precise)? In the same fashion, words such as “additions” and especially “omissions” are neutral in appearance but, in reality, they hide some confused realities: an “addition” or an “omission” can be honest or dishonest; they can change nothing important in a text or they can, to the contrary, alter it profoundly. In the particular case that interests us here, those two words have a frankly benign appearance!
In any case it is impossible to consider those three expert opinions (Becker, Hübner, and Sieburg) as conclusive, because they had not been examined by a court. In fact, for some reasons of which I am unaware, Mr. Frank was to withdraw his complaint against Lothar Stielau. If my information is correct, Stielau agreed to pay 1,000 Marks of the 15,712 Marks of the cost of the proceedings begun. I suppose that Mr. Frank paid to the court of Lübeck those 1,000 Marks and that he had added to that sum 14,712 Marks for his own part. I recall that Mr. Frank told me that Lothar Stielau had, moreover, agreed to present him with his written apology. Lothar Stielau had lost his job as a teacher at the same time. Mr. Frank did not speak to me about Heinrich Buddeberg, Lothar Stielau’s co-defendant. Perhaps Buddeberg himself also had to turn over 1,000 Marks and to present his apologies.
I linger here on these matters of expert opinions only because in our interview Mr. Frank had himself lingered there, while not mentioning certain important facts (for example, the existence of a third expert opinion), and while presenting to me the two expert opinions as conclusive. The matter of the manuscripts did not interest me very much either. I knew that I would not have the time to examine them closely. What interested me most of all was to know how Mr. Frank would have explained to me the “unexplainable quantity of unlikely or inconceivable facts” that I had called attention to in reading the Diary. After all, what does it matter that some manuscripts, even declared authentic by some experts, contain this type of facts, if those facts could not have existed? But Mr. Frank was to show himself to be incapable of furnishing me with the least explanation. In my opinion he was expecting to see the authenticity of the Diary questioned by the usual arguments, of the psychological, literary, or historical order. He did not expect arguments of internal criticism bearing on the realities of material life: the realities which, as one knows, are stubborn. In a moment of confusion, Mr. Frank moreover declared to me: “But I had never thought about those material matters!”
Before coming to some precise examples of that confession, I owe it to the truth to say that on two occasions Mr. Frank gave me good answers and those were in regard to two episodes that I have not mentioned up to now, precisely because they were to find an explanation. The first episode was incomprehensible to me because of a small omission from the French translation (I did not possess at that time the Dutch text). The second episode was incomprehensible to me because of an error that figures in all the printed texts of the Diary. Where, on the date of 8 July 1944, it is a question of the male greengrocer, the manuscript gives: “la marchande de légumes” (the female greengrocer). And that is fortunate, for a careful reader of the book knows very well that the greengrocer in question could not have delivered to those in hiding “19 pounds of green peas” (!) on 8 July 1944 for the good reason that he had been arrested 45 days before by the Germans for one of the most serious of reasons (he had had two Jews at his home). That act had set him “on the edge of an abyss” (25 May 1944). One has a hard time understanding how a greengrocer leaps from “the abyss” in order to thus deliver to some other Jews such a quantity of compromising merchandise. To tell the truth, one does not understand very much better the wife of that unfortunate man, but the fact is there, the text of the manuscript is not absurd like that of the Dutch, French, German, and English printings. The writer of the manuscript had been more careful. It remains that the error of the printed texts was perhaps not an error, but indeed a deliberate and unfortunate correction of the manuscript. We read, in fact, in the printed Dutch text: van der groenteboer om de hoek, 19 pond (cries Margot); and Anne answers: Dat is aarding van hem. In other words, Margot and Anne used the masculine on two occasions; “from the (male) greengrocer on the corner 19 pounds,” Anne’s answer: “That’s nice of him.” For my part, I would draw two other conclusions from that episode:
- Internal criticism bearing on the coherence of a text allows us to detect some anomalies which are revealed to be true anomalies;
- A reader of the Diary, having come to that episode of 8 July 1944, would be right to declare absurd a book in which the hero (“the nice greengrocer on the corner”) leaps back out of the depths of the abyss as one would rise up from the dead.
That greengrocer, Mr. Frank told me, was named Van der Hoeven. Deported for having harboured Jews at his home, he came back from deportation. At the time of the commemorative ceremonies, he had come back to appear at the side of Mr. Frank. I asked Mr. Frank if, after the war, some people from the neighbourhood had declared to him: “We suspected the presence of people in hiding at 263 Prinsengracht.” Mr. Frank clearly answered me that no one had suspected their presence, including the men of the store, including Lewin, also including Van der Hoeven. The latter supposedly helped them without knowing it!
In spite of my repeated questions on this point, Mr. Frank was not able to tell me what his neighbours at No. 261 sold or made. He did not remember that there had been in his own house, at No. 263, a housekeeper described in the book as a possible “enemy.” He ended by answering me that she was “very, very old” and that she only came very rarely, perhaps once a week. I said to him that she must have been astonished to suddenly see the installation of the “swinging cupboard” on the landing of the second floor. He answered no, given that the housekeeper never came there. That answer was to provoke for the first time a kind of dispute between Mr. Frank and his wife, who was present at our interview. Beforehand, in fact, I had taken the precaution of having Mr. Frank make it clear to me that those in hiding had never done any housekeeping outside of cleaning a part of the annex. The logical conclusion of Mr. Frank’s two statements therefore became: “For twenty-five months, no one had done any cleaning of the landing on the second floor.” In the face of that improbability, Mrs. Frank suddenly broke in to say to her husband: “Nonsense! No cleaning on that landing! In a factory! But there would have been dust this high!” What Mrs. Frank could have added is that the landing was supposed to have served as a passageway for the people in hiding in their comings and goings between the annex and the front house. The trail of their goings and comings would have been obvious in the midst of so much accumulated dust, even without taking into account the dust from the coal brought from downstairs. In fact, Mr. Frank could not have told the truth when he spoke in this way about a kind of phantom housekeeper for a house so vast and so dirty.
On several occasions, at the beginning of our interview, Mr. Frank thus attempted to supply some explanations which, finally, did not explain anything at all and which led him, to the contrary, into some impasses. I must say here that the presence of his wife was to prove to be especially useful. Mrs. Frank, who was very well acquainted with the Diary, obviously believed up to then in the authenticity of the Diary as well as in the sincerity of her husband. Her surprise was only more striking in the face of the terrible quality of Mr. Frank’s answers to my questions. For myself, I retain a painful memory of what I would call certain “realizations” by Mrs. Frank. I do not at all wish to say that Mrs. Frank today takes her husband for a liar. But I claim that Mrs. Frank was strongly conscious, at the time of our interview, of the anomalies and of the serious absurdities of the whole story of Anne Frank. Hearing the “explanations” of her husband, she came to use toward him some phrases of the following kind:
“What you are saying is unbelievable!”
“A vacuum cleaner! That is unbelievable! I had never noticed it!”
“But you were really foolhardy!”
“That was really foolhardy!”
The most interesting remark that Mrs. Frank made was the following: “I am sure that the people (of the neighbourhood) knew that you were there.” For my part, I would say rather: “I am sure that the people of the neighbourhood would have seen, heard, and smelled the presence of the persons in hiding, if there were indeed some persons hidden in that house for twenty-five months.”
I would take one other example of Mr. Frank’s explanations. According to him, the people who worked in the front house could not see the main part of the annex because of the “masking paper on the window panes.” This statement, which is found in the brochure of the “museum,” was repeated to me by Mr. Frank in the presence of his wife. Without pausing at that statement, I went on to another subject: that of the consumption of electricity. I made the remark that the consumption of electricity in the house must have been considerable. Because Mr. Frank was surprised by my remark, I stated it precisely: “That consumption must have been considerable because the electric light was on all day in the office on the courtyard and in the store on the courtyard in the front house.” Mr. Frank then said to me: “How is that? The electric light is not necessary in broad daylight!” I indicated to him how those rooms could not receive daylight, knowing that the windows had some “masking paper” on them. Mr. Frank then answered me that those rooms were not so very dark: a disconcerting answer which found itself in contradiction with the statement of the booklet written by Mr. Frank: “Spices must be kept in the dark “ (page 27 of the 36 page booklet mentioned above on page 82). Mr. Frank then dared to add that, all the same, what one saw through those windows on the courtyard was only a wall. He specified, contrary to all evidence, that one did not see that it was the wall of a house! That detail contradicted the following passage of the same prospectus: “therefore, although you saw windows, you could not see through them, and everyone took it for granted that they overlooked the garden” (ibidem). I asked if those masked windows were nevertheless sometimes open, if only for airing out the office where they received visitors, if only in the summer, on swelteringly hot days. Mrs. Frank agreed with me on that and remarked that those windows must all the same have been open sometimes. Silence from Mr. Frank.
The list of the noises left Mr. Frank, and especially Mrs. Frank, perplexed. As regards the vacuum cleaner, Mr. Frank was startled and declared to me: “But there could not have been a vacuum cleaner there.” Then, in the face of my assurance that there had been one, he began to stammer. He told me that, if indeed there had been a vacuum cleaner, they must have run it in the evening, when the employees (the “enemies”) had left the front house, after work. I objected that the noise of a vacuum cleaner of that era would have been so much better heard by the neighbours (the walls were “thin,” 25 March 1943) as it would have occurred in empty rooms or close to empty rooms. I revealed to him that, in any case, Mrs. Van Daan, for her part, was supposed to have used that vacuum cleaner every day, regularly, at about 12:30 pm (the window probably being open). Silence from Mr. Frank, while Mrs. Frank was visibly moved. The same silence for the alarm clock, with the sometimes untimely alarm (4 August 1943). The same silence for the removal of the ashes, especially on swelteringly hot days. The same silence about the borrowing, by the persons in hiding, from the supply of coal (a rare commodity) common to the whole house. Even silence about the question of the bicycles used after their confiscation and after the prohibition of their use by Jews.
A number of questions therefore remained without answers or even at first gave rise to some explanations by which Mr. Frank worsened his case. Then Mr. Frank had, as it were, a windfall: a magic formula. That formula was the following: “Mr. Faurisson, you are theoretically and scientifically right. I agree with you 100 percent What you pointed out to me was, in fact, impossible. But, in practice, it was nevertheless in that way that things happened.” I pointed out to Mr. Frank that his statement troubled me. I told him that it was almost as if he agreed with me that a door could not be at the same time open and closed and as if, in spite of that, he stated that he had seen such a door. I pointed out to him, in another connection, that the words “scientifically” and “theoretically” and “in practice” were unnecessary and introduced a distinction devoid of meaning because, in any case, “theoretically,” “scientifically,” and “in practice” a door at the same time open and closed quite simply cannot exist. I added that I would prefer to each particular question an appropriate response or, if need be, no answer at all.
Near the beginning of our interview, Mr. Frank had made, in the friendliest way in the world, a major concession, a concession announced by me above on page 83. As I began to make him understand that I found absurd the explanations that he had furnished in his prospectuses, both regarding the ignorance of the Germans about the architecture typical of Dutch houses and about the presence of smoke constantly above the roof of the annex (the “little factory”), he wanted to admit right away, without any insistence on my part, that it was a question there of pure inventions on his part. Without using, it is true, the word “inventions,” he declared to me, in substance: “You are quite right. In the explanations that are given to visitors, it is necessary to simplify. That is not so serious. It is necessary to make that agreeable to visitors. This is not the scientific way of doing things. One is not always able to be scientific.”
That confidential remark enlightens us on what I believe to be a character trait of Mr. Frank: Mr. Frank has the sense of what pleases the public and he seeks to adapt himself to it, free to take liberties with the truth. Mr. Frank is not a man to give himself a headache. He knows that the general public is satisfied with little. The general public seeks a sort of comfort, a sort of dream, a sort of easy world where it will be brought exactly the kind of emotion that confirms it in its habits of feeling, seeing, and reasoning. That smoke above the roof could disturb the general public? What does it matter? Let’s make up an explanation not necessarily probable, but simple and, if it is necessary, simple and crude. Perfection is reached if that fabrication confirms some accepted ideas or habitual feelings: for example, it is very probable that for those who love Anne Frank and who come to visit her house, the Germans are brutes and beasts; well, they will find a confirmation of that in Mr. Frank’s explanations: the Germans went so for as to be unaware of the architecture typical of the houses in Amsterdam. In a general way, Mr. Frank appeared to me, on more than one occasion, as a man devoid of finesse (but not of cunning) for whom a literary work is, in relation to reality, a form of lying contrivance, a domain where one takes liberties with the truth, a thing which “is not so serious” and which allows for writing almost anything.
I asked Mr. Frank what explanations he could furnish me on the two points where he agreed that he had said nothing serious to the visitors. He could not answer me. I questioned him about the layout of the premises. I had noted some anomalies in the plan of the house, such as it is reproduced — by Mr. Frank — in all the editions of the Diary. Those anomalies had been confirmed for me by my visit to the museum (taking account of the changes made in the premises in order to make it into a museum). It was then that once again Mr. Frank went on to be led, in the face of the physical evidence, to make some new and important concessions to me, especially, as is going to be seen in regard to the “swinging cupboard.” He began by admitting that the diagram of the plan ought not to have concealed from the reader that the small courtyard which separates the front house from the annex was common to No. 263 (the Frank house) and to No. 265 (the house of their neighbours and “enemies”). It seems bizarre that, in the Diary, there was not the slightest allusion to the fact, which, for the persons in hiding, was of extreme importance. Mr. Frank then acknowledged that the diagram of the place let people believe that on the third floor the flat roof was not accessible; but that roof was accessible by a door from the annex and it could very well have offered to the police or to the “enemies” an easy way of access into the very heart of the premises inhabited by the persons in hiding. Finally and especially, Mr. Frank conceded to me that the “swinging cupboard” did not make any sense. He recognized that his ruse could not, in any case, have prevented a search of the annex, seeing that that annex was accessible in other ways, and especially in the most natural way — the entrance door leading out to the garden. That entrance, it is true, does not appear on the schema because the schema does not contain any drawing of the whole ground floor. As to the museum visitors, they do not have access to this same ground floor. That famous “swinging cupboard” thus became a particularly strange invention of “the persons in hiding.” One must, in fact, think here that the making of that “swinging cupboard” was a dangerous job. The destruction of the stair steps, the assembling of that false cupboard, the change of a passageway into an apparent dead end, all that could only give warning to the “enemies.” All that had of course been suggested by Kraler and carried out by Vossen (21 August 1942)!
The more that my interview went on, the more the embarrassment of Mr. Frank became visible. But his amiability did not fail; quite the contrary. At the end, Mr. Frank went on to use a sentimental argument, apparently clever and in a good natured tone. That argument was the following: “Yes, I agree with you, we were a little imprudent. Certain things were a little dangerous, it is necessary to recognize that. Besides, it is perhaps the reason why we were finally arrested. But do not believe, Mr. Faurisson, that the people were suspicious at that point.” That curious argumentation went on to suggest to Mr. Frank sentences such as: “The people were decent!” or even: “The Dutch were good!,” or even, on two occasions: “The people were good!”
These sentences have only one inconvenience: they render absurd all of the “precautions” pointed out in the book. To a certain extent, they even rob the book of its meaning. The book recounts, as a matter of fact, the tragic adventure of eight persons hunted down, forced to hide, to bury themselves alive for twenty-five months in the midst of a ferociously hostile world. In those “days in the tomb” only some select few people knew of their existence and brought them help. One could say that in resorting to his last arguments, Mr. Frank tried with one hand to fill in the cracks in a work which, with the other hand, he was dismantling.
On the evening of our first day of interviews, Mr. Frank handed to me his own copy, in French, of the book by Ernst Schnabel: Spur eines Kindes (French title: Sur les traces d’Anne Frank; English title: Anne Frank: A Portrait in Courage). He told me that I would perhaps find in that book some answers to certain of my questions. The pages of that copy were not cut. It should be mentioned that Mr. Frank speaks and understands French, but he reads it with a little difficulty. (I should make it clear here that all our interviews took place in English, a language that Mr. Frank has mastered perfectly.) I had not yet read that book, because the strict observance of the methods proper to pure internal criticism obliges one to read nothing about a work so long as one has not yet personally gotten a clear idea of that work. During the night that preceeded our second interview, I glanced through the book. Among a dozen points that acted to confirm to me that the Diary was a fable (in spite of the fact that Schnabel made many efforts to persuade us of the contrary), I call attention to an amazing passage on page 151 of the French text. That passage concerned Mr. Vossen, the man who, it seemed, had devoted himself, as carpenter, to making the “swinging cupboard” intended to conceal the persons in hiding (Diary, 21 August 1942). “Good old Vossen” was supposed to work at 263 Prinsengracht. He kept the persons in hiding up-to-date on everything that took place in the store. But illness had forced him to retire to his home, where his daughter Elli joined him after her own work hours. On 15 June 1943, Anne spoke about him as a precious friend. But, if one believes a remark of Elli reported by Schnabel, good old Vossen was unaware of the existence of the Franks at 263 Prinsengracht! Elli recounts, in fact, that on 4 August 1944, when she returned to her residence, she informed her father of the arrest of the Franks. The French text of Schnabel says: “I was seated at the side of the bed and I had told him everything. My father very much liked Mr. Frank, whom he had known for a long time. He was not aware that the Franks had not left for Switzerland, as was claimed, but had hidden themselves on the Prinsengracht.” But what is incomprehensible is that Vossen could have believed in that rumour. For nearly a year he had seen the Franks at Prinsengracht, he had spoken with them, he had helped them and he had become their friend. Then, when because of his bad health he had left his job on the Prinsengracht, his daughter Elli was able to keep him up to date on the doings of his friends, the Franks.
Mr. Frank was not able to explain to me that passage from Schnabel’s book. Rushing to the German and the English texts of the same work, he made a surprising discovery: the whole passage where Elli spoke with her father did indeed appear in those texts, but, lacking the sentence beginning with: “He was not aware “ and ending with: “ the Prinsengracht.” In the French text, Elli continued: II ne dit rien. Il restait couché en silence. For comparison, here is the German text:
Ich setze mich zu ihm ans Bett und habe ihm alles gesagt. Er hing sehr an Herrn Frank, denn er kannte ihn lange [passage missing]. Gesagt hat er nichts. Er hat nur dagelegen. (Anne Frank/Ein Bericht von Ernst Schnabel, Spur eines Kindes, Fischer Bucherei, 1958, 168 pages, page 115.)
And here is the English text:
I sat down beside his bed and told him everything. He was deeply attached to Mr. Frank, who he had known a long time [passage missing]. He said nothing. (Anne Frank: A Portrait in Courage, Ernst Schnabel, Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston. New York: Harbrace Paperback Library, Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc.; 1958; 181 pages; page 132.)
After returning to France, it was easy for me to clear up this mystery: from many other points in the French text it became evident that there had existed two original German versions. The first version of Schnabel must have been sent in “tapuscript” to the French publishing house of Albin Michel so that from it there could be prepared a translation into French, without losing time. Thereupon Schnabel or, very probably, Mr. Frank, had gone on to do a revision of its text. He had then left out the problematical sentence about Vossen. Then Fischer published that corrected version. But in France they had done the job in double quick time and the book had already left the presses. It was too late to correct it. I note moreover a bibliographical curiosity: my copy of Sur les traces d’Anne Frank (translated from the German by Marthe Metzger, Editions Albin Michel, 1958, 205 pages) bears a reference to “18th thousand” and its date for the completion of printing was in February 1958. But the first thousand of the original German edition was in March 1958. The translation therefore did indeed appear before the original.
It remains, of course, to know why Ernst Schnabel or Mr. Frank had believed it proper to proceed with that amazing correction. The fact remains that Mr. Frank showed his confusion once more in the face of this further anomaly. We took leave of each other in the most painful of atmospheres, where each token friendliness that Mr. Frank showed me embarrassed me a little more. Shortly after my return to France, I wrote to Mr. Frank to thank him for his hospitality and to ask him Elli’s address. He answered me pleasantly while asking me to send him the French copy of Schnabel’s book, and without speaking to me about Elli. I sent his copy back to him while again asking him for the address. No answer this time. I telephoned him at Birsfelden. He responded to me that he would not give me that address, and especially now that I had sent to Kraler (Kugler) an “idiotic” letter. I will come back to that letter.
The aforementioned book by Schnabel (Anne Frank: A Portrait in Courage) has some curious omissions, while the long article, unsigned, that Der Spiegel (1 April 1959, pages 51-55) devoted to the Diary, in the wake of the Stielau case, brings us some curious revelations. The title of that article is eloquent: “Anne Frank. Was Schrieb das Kind?” (“Anne Frank. What did the Child Write?”)
Ernst Schnabel openly defended Anne Frank and Otto Frank. His book is relatively rich on all that precedes and on all that follows the twenty-five months of their life at Prinsengracht. On the other hand, it is very poor concerning those twenty-five months. One would say that the direct witnesses (Miep, Elli, Kraler, Koophuis, Henk) have nothing to say on that very important period. Why do they remain silent in that way? Why have they said only some commonplace things like: “When we had our plate of soup upstairs with them at noon “ (page 114)1 or: “We always had lunch together “ (page 117)? Not one concrete detail, not one description, not one anecdote is there that by its preciseness would give the impression that the persons in hiding and their faithful friends regularly ate together this way at noon. Everything appears in a kind of fog. But those witnesses were questioned only thirteen years, at the most, after the arrest of the Franks, and certain of them such as Elli, Miep and Henk, were still young. I am not talking about numerous other persons whom Schnabel wrongly calls “witnesses” but who, in fact, had never known or even met the Franks. This is the case, for example, with the famous “greengrocer” (Gemüsemann). “He did not know the Franks at all” (page 82). In a general way, the impression that I derived from reading Schnabel’s book is the following: this Anne Frank had really existed; she had been a little girl without great character, without strong personality, without scholarly precociousness (to the contrary even), and no one suspected her of having an aptitude for writing; that unfortunate child knew the horrors of war; she had been arrested by the Germans; she had been interned, then deported; she passed through the camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau; she had been separated from her father; her mother died in the hospital at Birkenau on 6 January 1945; in approximately October of 1944 she and her sister were transferred to the camp at Bergen-Belsen; Margot died of typhus; then, in her turn, Anne, alone in the world, was also to die of typhus in March of 1945. These are some points about which the witnesses did not hesitate to talk. But with all of them one senses mistrust in the presence of the legendary Anne, who was capable of taking up the pen as we have been told, capable of keeping that diary and writing those stories, and writing “the beginning of a novel,” etc. Schnabel himself writes a very revealing sentence when he declares: “My witnesses had a good deal to say about Anne as a person; they took account of the legend only with great reticence, or by tacitly ignoring it. Although they did not take issue with it by so much as a word, I had the impression that they were checking themselves. All of them read Anne’s diary; they did not mention it (pages 4-5).” That last sentence is important “All of them had read Anne’s diary; they did not mention it.” Even Kraler, who sent a long letter to Schnabel from Toronto, did not make mention either of the Diary or of Anne’s other writings (page 87). Kraler is the only direct witness to tell an anecdote or two about Anne; but, in a very curious way, he places these anecdotes in the period of time when the Franks still lived in their apartment on Merwedeplein, before their “disappearance” (“before they went into hiding,” page 87). It is only in the corrected edition that the second anecdote is placed at Prinsengracht, even “when they were in the secret annex” (page 88). The witnesses did not wish that their names be published. The two most important witnesses (the “probable betrayer” and the Austrian policeman) were neither questioned nor even sought out. Schnabel attempts on several occasions to explain that curious failure (pages 8, 139 and all of the end of chapter ten). He goes so far as to present a sort of defence of the arresting officer! One person nevertheless does mention the diary, but that is to draw attention to a point in it which seems bizarre to her concerning the Montessori school of which she was the director (page 40). Schnabel himself treats the diary strangely. How to explain, indeed, the cutting that he does when he cites a passage such as that of his page 123? Quoting a long passage from the letter of 11 April 1944 in which Anne tells about the police raid in the wake of the burglary, he leaves out the sentence in which Anne gives the main reason for her distress; that reason was that the police, it appeared, went so far as to give the “swinging cupboard” some loud blows. (“This, and when the police rattled the cupboard door, were my worst moments.”) Wouldn’t Schnabel have thought, like any sensible man, that that passage is absurd? In any case, he tells us that he visited 263 Prinsengracht before its transformation into a museum. He did not see any “swinging cupboard” there. He writes: “The cupboard that was built against the door to disguise it has been pulled down. Nothing is left but the twisted hinges hanging beside the door.” (page 74) He did not find any trace of a special camouflage, but only, in Anne’s room, a yellowed piece of curtain “A tattered, yellowed remnant of curtain still hangs at the window.” (page 75). Mr. Frank, it seems, marked in pencil on the wall paper, near one door, the successive heights of his daughters. Today, at the museum, the visitors can see an impeccable square of wall paper, placed under glass, where they notice the perfectly preserved pencil marks which appear to have been drawn the same day. They tell us that these pencil marks indicated the heights of Mr. Frank’s children. When I saw Mr. Frank at Birsfelden, I asked him if it was not a question there of a “reconstruction.” He assured me all that was authentic. But this is difficult to believe. Schnabel himself had simply seen, as a mark, an “A 42” which he interpreted thus: “Anne 1942.” What is strange is that the “authentic” paper in the museum does not bear anything such as that Schnabel said that he had seen, only that mark and that the others had been destroyed or torn off (“the other marks have been stripped off “ [ibidem].) Might Mr. Frank have made himself guilty here of a trick (ein Trick), such as that which he had suggested to Henk and to Miep for the photocopy of their passport?
A very interesting point about Anne’s story concerns the manuscripts. I regret to say that I find very unlikely the account of the discovery of those many scripts, then their passing on to Mr. Frank by his secretary Miep. The police supposedly scattered the floor with all sorts of papers. Among those papers, Miep and Elli supposedly gathered up a “Scotch notebook” (ein rotkariertes Buch; a red plaid book) and many other writings in which they are supposed to have recognized Anne’s writing. They supposedly did not read anything. They are supposed to have put all these papers aside in the large office. Then, those papers supposedly were handed over to Mr. Frank at the time of his return from Poland (pages 179-181.) That account does not agree at all with the account of the arrest. The arrest was made slowly, methodically, correctly, exactly like the search. The testimonies are unanimous on that point (see chapter nine). After the arrest, the police came back to the premises on several occasions; they especially interrogated Miep. The police wished to know if the Franks were in contact with other persons in hiding. The diary, such as we know it, would have revealed, at first glance, a great deal of information valuable to the police, and would have been terribly compromising for Miep, Elli, and for all the friends of the persons in hiding. The police could have disregarded the “Scotch notebook” if, in its original condition, it consisted, as I think, only of some drawings, some photographs or notes of a harmless nature. But it would appear unlikely that they would have left there several notebooks and several hundreds of scattered pages, on which the handwriting was, at least in appearance, that of an adult. On the part of Elli and Miep, it would have been madness to gather together and to keep, especially in the office, such a mass of compromising documents. It would appear that they knew that Anne kept a diary. In a diary one is supposed to tell what happens from day to day. Consequently, Anne risked mentioning Miep and Elli in them.
Regarding the book by Schnabel, Mr. Frank made a surprising revelation to me. He told me that that book, although translated into several languages, had not been translated into Dutch! The reason for the exception was that the principal witnesses living in the Netherlands said that, because of modesty as well as because of a concern for their peace and quiet, they wished that people not talk about them. In reality, Mr. Frank was mistaken or else he was deceiving me. An investigation conducted in Amsterdam at first led me to believe that Schnabel’s book had not been translated into Dutch. Even the Contact publishing house replied or had several libraries or several private individuals reply that that book did not exist. I discovered then that, in a showcase at the “Anne Frank House” museum, the book by Schnabel was shown as having been translated into Dutch and published in 1970 (twelve years after its publication in Germany, in France and in the United States!) under the title Haar laatste Levensmaanden (Her Last Months). The book unfortunately was not to be found. I got the same responses from the libraries and from the Contact publishing house. As a result of my insistence, Contact finally replied to me that there remained with them only one archive copy. With some difficulty I got permission to consult it, and then to get a photocopy of pages 263 to 304. For, in reality, the work in question contained only an extract from Schnabel’s book, reduced to 35 pages, and placed as an appendix to the text of the Diary. The comparative study of Spur eines Kindes and of its “translation” into Dutch is of the greatest interest. Of the book by Schnabel, the Dutch can only read the five last chapters (out of thirteen chapters in all). Moreover, three of those five chapters have undergone cuts of all sorts. Certain of those cuts are marked by ellipses. Others are not marked at all. The chapters thus cut up are Chapters Nine, Ten and Thirteen — which is to say those that concern, on the one hand, the arrest and its direct results (in the Netherlands) and, on the other hand, the history of the manuscripts. When it is no longer a question of those subjects, when it is a question of the camps (which is the case in Chapters Eleven and Twelve), the original text by Schnabel is respected. Examined closely, those cuts seem to have been introduced to remove the somewhat precise details which appear in the testimonies of Koophuis, Miep, Henk, and Elli. For example, it lacks, without anything to indicate to us the existence of a cut, the essential passage where Elli tells how she told her father about the arrest of the Franks (the 13 lines of page 115 of Spur are completely absent from page 272 of Haar Laatste Levensmaanden). It is odd that the only nation for whom they have thus reserved a censored version of the life of Anne Frank is precisely that one where the adventure of Anne Frank took place. Can you imagine some revelations about Joan of Arc that would be made to all sorts of foreign nations, but would be forbidden in some way to the French people? Such a way of acting is understandable only when the editors fear that, in the country of origin, the “revelations” would have rather quickly appeared suspect. That explanation given by Mr. Frank hardly holds. Because Koophuis, Miep, Henk, and Elli find themselves named anyhow (moreover by some complete or partial pseudonyms), and because Schnabel has them make such and such remarks, one does not see how the cuts introduced into those remarks can soothe the sensitive modesty of their authors or assure them more tranquility in their life in Amsterdam. I would believe rather that the preparation of the Dutch translation gave rise to some very long and arduous bargaining among all the interested parties or, at least, between Mr. Frank and some of them, but, as the years passed, they became more cautious and more sparing with details than in their original “testimonies.”
The above-mentioned articles from Der Spiegel brings us, as I have said, some curious revelations. As a matter of principle I distrust journalists. They work too quickly. Here it is obvious that the journalist carried out a thorough investigation. The issue was too burning and too sensitive to be treated lightly. The conclusion of the long article could indeed be the following: While suspecting the Diary to be a forgery, Lothar Stielau perhaps proved nothing, but all the same he “ran into a really tricky problem — the problem of the genesis of the publishing of the book” (auf ein tatsächlich heikles Problem gestossen — das Problem der Enstehung der Buchausgabe, page 51). And it is revealed that we are very far from the text of the original manuscripts when we read in Dutch, in German, and in whatever language, the book entitled The Diary of Anne Frank. Supposing for a moment that the manuscripts are authentic, it is necessary to be aware that as a matter of fact what we read under that title, for example in Dutch (that is to say in the supposedly original language), is only the result of a whole series of operations of reorganizing and rewriting, participated in especially by Mr. Frank and some close friends, among whom were (for the Dutch text) Mr. And Mrs. Cauvern and (for the German text) Anneliese Schütz, whose pupil Anne had been.
Between the original form of the book (the manuscripts) and its printed form (the Dutch edition from Contact in 1947), the text has known at least five forms in succession.
- between the end of May 1945 and October 1945, Mr. Frank had drawn up a sort of copy (Abschrift) from the manuscripts, in part alone, in part with the help of his secretary Isa Cauvern (the wife of Albert Cauvern, a friend of Mr. Frank; before the war, the Cauverns had welcomed the Frank children to their home for vacations).
- from October 1945 to January 1946, Mr. Frank and Isa Cauvern worked together on a new version of the copy, a typed version (Neufassung der Abschrift/Maschinengeschriebene Zweitfassung).
- at an unspecified date (the end of the winter of 1945-1946), that second version (typed) was submitted to Albert Cauvern; insofar as he was a radio man — an announcer with the “De Vara” radio network in Hilversum — he knew about rewriting manuscripts. According to his own words, he began by “tolerably changing” that version; he drew up his own text as a “man of experience” (Albert Cauvern stellt heute nicht in Abrede, dass er jene maschinengeschriebene Zweitfassung mit kundiger Hand redigiert hat: “Am Anfang habe ich ziemlich viel geändert”, page 52.) A detail that is surprising for a diary: he does not fear to regroup under a single date some letters written on different dates; on a second occasion he limited himself to correcting the punctuation as well as mistakes of phrasing and grammar; all those changes and corrections were carried out on the typed text; Albert Cauvern never saw the original manuscripts.
- from the changes and corrections, Mr. Frank drew up what one can call the third typed text in the spring of 1946; he submitted the result to “three prominent experts” (drei prominente Gutachter, page 53), while letting them believe that it was a question of the complete reproduction of a manuscript, with the very understandable exception of some personal points of order; then, those three persons having apparently given their guarantee to the text, Mr. Frank went on to offer it to several publishing houses in Amsterdam which refused it; turning then, in all probability, to one of those three persons, Mrs. Anna Romein-Verschoor. He got the latter’s husband, Mr. Jan Romein, Professor of History of the Netherlands at the University of Amsterdam, to write in the daily newspaper Het Parool a famous article which began with these words: “There has by chance fallen into my hands a diary (etc.)”. Because the article was very laudatory, a modest Amsterdam publishing house (Contact) asked to publish that diary.
- with the agreement once concluded or in the process of being concluded, Mr. Frank went to find several “spiritual counselors” (mehrere geistliche Ratgeber), one of whom was Pastor Buskes; he granted them full authority to censor the text (raumte ihnen freiwillig Zensoren-Befugnisse ein, pages 53-54). And that censorship was carried out.
But the oddities do not end there. The German text of the Diary forms the subject of interesting remarks on the part of the journalist from Der Spiegel. He writes: “One curiosity of the ‘Anne Frank literature’ is the translation work of Anneliese Schütz, of which Schnabel said: ‘I would wish that all translations were so faithful,’ but whose text very often diverges from the Dutch original” (page 54). In fact, as I will show below (“Comparing the Dutch and German texts” on page 100), the journalist is quite lenient in his criticism when he says that the German text diverges very often from what he calls the original (that is to say, without doubt, from the original printed by the Dutch). The printed German text does not have the right to be called a translation from the printed Dutch: it constitutes, properly speaking, another book by itself. But let us pass over this point. We will return to it.
Anneliese Schütz, a great friend of the Franks, like them a Jewish German refugee in the Netherlands, and Anne’s teacher, therefore prepared a text, in German, of the diary of her former pupil. She settled down to that work for Anne’s grandmother! The latter, very aged, did not in fact read Dutch. She therefore needed a translation into German, the Franks’ mother tongue. Anneliese Schütz composed her “translation” “in the perspective of the grandmother” (aus der Grossmutter-Perspektive, page 55). She took some amazing liberties. Where, according to her recollections, Anne had expressed herself better, she made her express herself better! The grandmother had the right to that! die Grossmutter habe ein Recht darauf, mehr zu erfahren — vor allem dort, “wo Anne nach meiner Erinnerung etwas besseres gesagt hatte” (ibidem). Let it be said in passing that Anneliese Schütz is never mentioned by Anne Frank in the Diary. Are we to understand that she had lived close to Anne or that she had met her during the twenty-five months when she hid at the Prinsengracht? To the “perspective of the grandmother,” which dictated certain “obligations,” there was added what one can call the “commercial perspective” which dictated other obligations. As a matter of fact, when the time came to publish the Diary in Germany, Anneliese Schütz inserted some new alterations. Let us take an example that she herself mentions. The manuscript, they say, included the following sentence: “ no greater hostility in the world than between the Germans and the Jews” (ibidem). Anneliese Schütz declared to the journalist of Der Spiegel: “I always told myself that a book, destined to be sold in Germany, cannot contain an expression insulting to the Germans” (ibidem). For my part, I would say that that argumentation at one and the same time of the commercial, sentimental and political order is understandable when coming from a woman of Berlin Jewish origin, who had been a militant before the war in a suffragette movement and who had had to leave her own country for political reasons, but otherwise that argumentation is all the less acceptable because the “insulting” remarks have been and continue to be spread in the millions of copies of the Diary sold throughout the world in languages other than German. And I am not speaking here from the simple point of view of respect for the truth.
One does not have the impression that Mr. Frank’s “collaborators” in the publishing of the diary were especially pleased with their work, nor that they were especially delighted about the fuss made about that Diary Let us take those collaborators one by one: about Isa Cauvern, we can say nothing, except that she committed suicide by throwing herself out of her window in June of 1946. Mr. Frank had just signed or was going to sign his contract for publication with Contact. The motive for that suicide is not known to us and it is at present impossible to establish a tie of some kind between that suicide and the affair of the Diary. As regards the person who wrote the preface, Anna Romein-Verschoor, she was to declare to Der Spiegel in 1959: “I was not at all suspicious enough” (Ich bin wohl nicht misstrauisch genug gewesen). Her husband had been no more suspicious. Albert Cauvern had not been able to obtain from Mr. Frank the return of the typed text on which he had worked. He had asked for that text “in memory of my wife” who died in 1946. Mr. Frank had not sent the text in question. Kurt Baschwitz, a friend of Mr. Frank, was one of the “three eminent persons” (the two others being Mr. and Mrs. Romein). In 1959, he was to plead for an “agreement” between Mr. Frank and Lothar Stielau. He recommended, on the other hand, a complete publication of the text of the manuscripts to resolve the problem. To know what the text was in reality, that solution would have been, as a matter of fact, that most suitable. Anneliese Schütz, for her part, was to show her disapproval both of the “Anne Frank Myth” and of the attitude of Mr. Frank with regard to Lothar Stielau. She was in favour of a policy of silence: the least fuss possible about Anne Frank and her diary. She went so far as to disapprove of Mr. Frank and Ernst Schnabel for Spur eines Kindes: what need was there for that book? As regards to Stielau, if he had made the remark for which Mr. Frank criticized him for, latter had only to act as if he did not hear it. That “sharp” (scharff) (ibidem) reaction by Anneliese Schütz was all the more peculiar because this woman presented herself as the “translator” of the diary into German and because Ernst Schnabel had — but perhaps she did not know it — pushed kindness so far as to have declared with regard to that improbable “translation”: Ich wünschte, alle Übersetzungen waren so getreu (page 54) (“I would wish that all translations were so faithful”).
Return to Amsterdam
The internal criticism of the Diary had led me to think that the Diary was a “cock and bull story,” a novel, a lie. The subsequent investigations had only served to reinforce that judgment. But, if I indeed saw where the lie was, I did not see as well where the truth was. I saw indeed that the Frank family could not have lived for twenty-five months at 263 Prinsengracht in the way they claimed. But how had they lived in reality? Where? With whom? And finally, was it indeed at 263 Prinsengracht that they had been arrested?
Without any illusions about the answer that he would give me, I posed those questions to Kraler (by his real name, Kugler) in a letter that I sent to him in Canada. I asked him likewise if Anne appeared to him to have been the author of the Diary and how he could explain to me why Vossen (by his real name, Voskuyl) had believed that the Franks were somewhere other than at 263 Prinsengracht, and even in Switzerland, to be precise. His response was discourteous. He sent my letter and his response to Mr. Frank. It is that letter which Mr. Frank called “idiotic” during a telephone conversation. It is, I suppose, that response which, one year later, earned Kraler a prize of $10,000 from an institution for having “protected Anne Frank and her family during the war, in Amsterdam” (see the Hamburger Abendblatt, 6 June 1978, page 13). Disregarding its discourtesy, the response from Kraler was not lacking in interest for me. Kraler responded to me that Vossen’s suggestion concerning the presence of the Franks in Switzerland “was made to protect the family which was in hiding” (letter of 14 April 1977). He added, in regard to Anne, “there have been other greatly gifted young people, even younger than Anne.” I found that the first point of this answer was precise but incomprehensible if one recalls that Vossen had, according to his own daughter, the personal feeling that the Franks were in Switzerland. As to the second point of the answer, its stereotyped character was striking coming from a man whose only difficulty ought to have been in choosing among several precise and convincing answers. Kraler, as a matter of fact, was supposed to have lived for 25 months in almost daily contact with that Anne Frank whose “diary” was an open secret, it seems, for those who knew her.
Listening to Elli on 30 November 1977, then to Miep and Henk on 2 December 1977, I was struck right away with the impression that these three persons had not at all lived for 25 months in contact with the Franks and with the other persons in hiding in the manner in which this is presented to us in the Diary. On the other hand, I became convinced that Miep and Elli had at least been present at 263 Prinsengracht on 4 August 1944, at the time of the police raid. It is difficult for me to account otherwise for the insistence with which Elli and Miep avoided my questions on the 25 months, while coming back over and over again to the day of 4 August 1944. Elli, of whom I had much difficulty in finding any trace, expected neither my visit, nor the type of detailed questions I was going to put to her. Miep and Henk were expecting my visit and knew that I had seen Mr. Frank. My questions were brief, limited in number, and, with certain exceptions, I did not point out to my witnesses either their mutual contradictions or their contradictions with the Diary. Elli, full of good will, seemed to me to have a good memory of the war years and of the minor events of her daily life in those days (she was 23 years old in 1944). But, in regard to those twenty-five months, her answers to my questions were for the most part: “I do not know I do not recall I cannot explain to you “ “The coal storage place? It was in the Van Daans’ room.” “The ashes? I suppose that the men took them down.” “The night watchman Slagter? I have never heard him spoken of; after the war, we had a secretary who had that name.” “Lewin? I never had anything to do with him.” “The ‘swinging cupboard’? You are right, it was useless, but it was a camouflage for strangers.” I asked Elli to describe to me first the front house, then the annex. For the front house, she was able to give me some details; it is true that she worked there. For the annex, her answer was interesting. She declared to me that she had, all in all, spent only one night there, and that before the arrival of the eight clandestines! She added that she did not remember the premises, because she had been very nervous. But, in the Diary, Elli is supposed to have come to take almost all of her mid-day meals with the people in hiding (see 5 August 1943: Elli arrives regularly at 12:45 pm; 20 August 1943: she arrives regularly at 5:30 pm as a messenger of freedom; 2 March 1944: she does the dishes with the two families’ mothers). In conclusion, I asked Elli to recall for me any detail of family life, any anecdote which does not appear in the book. She showed herself to be totally incapable of doing that.
Miep and Henk were likewise incapable of furnishing me with the least detail on the life of the people in hiding. The most important sentence of their testimony was the following: “We did not know exactly how they lived.” And in addition: “We were only in the annex for one weekend; we slept in the future room of Anne and Dussel.” “How did the persons in hiding keep them selves warm? Perhaps with gas.” “The coal storage place was downstairs in the store.” “There was no vacuum cleaner.” “The greengrocer did not bring anything to Prinsengracht.” “’The ‘swinging cupboard’ had been constructed well before the arrival of the Franks” (!) “I myself, Miep, I brought the vegetables, while Elli brought the milk.” “I myself, Henk, worked elsewhere than in the business, but every day I came to have lunch in the office of the girls and I came to speak to them for 15 or 20 minutes.” (This point, among others, is in total contradiction with the Diary, where it is said that Henk, Miep and Elli took their lunch in the annex, with the people in hiding. See 5 August 1943.) During our entire interview, Miep gave me the impression of being almost in agony. Her gaze avoided me. When I finally let her speak to me about 4 August 1944, her attitude suddenly changed completely. It was with obvious pleasure that she began to call to mind, with a great abundance of details, the arrival of the police and its results. I noted, however, a striking disproportion in the details of the account. Those details were numerous, vivid, and obviously truthful when Miep was calling to mind what had personally happened to her with the Austrian arresting officer, Silberbauer, either that day or on the following days. But, when it was a question of the Franks and of their companions in misfortune, the details became scanty and unclear. Thus it was that Miep had seen nothing of the arrest of the persons in hiding. She had not seen them leave. She had not seen them climb into the police vehicle, because that vehicle, which she had seen through the window of her office, “was too near the wall of the house.” From a distance from the other side of the canal, Henk had seen the police vehicle, but without being able to recognize the people who were entering or leaving. In regard to the manuscripts, Miep repeated to me the account that she had given to Schnabel. She told me also that Mr. Frank, after returning to the Netherlands at the end of May of 1945, lived for seven years under their roof. It was only toward the end of June or the beginning of July of 1945 that she had returned the manuscripts to him.
In the wake of those two interviews my judgment became the following: These three persons must have, on the whole, told me the truth about their own lives. It is probably true that they had not been familiar with, so to speak, the annex. It is certainly true that, in the front house, life unfolded approximately as they had recounted it to me (mid-day meal taken together in the office of the secretaries; the men of the store eating in the store; small food errands made in the neighbourhood, etc.). It is certainly true that a police raid took place on 4 August 1944 and that Miep had had business on that day and on the following days with a Karl Silberbauer. It is probable, on the other hand, that those three persons maintained some relations with the Frank family. In that case, why did they so obviously feel reticent to speak about it? Let us suppose, as a matter of fact, that the Franks and some other persons in hiding had really lived for 25 months in proximity to those three persons. In that case, why such a silence?
The answer to these questions could be the following: the Franks and, perhaps, some other Jews did actually live in the annex of 263 Prinsengracht. But they lived there quite differently than the Diary relates. For example, they lived a life there that was no doubt cautious, but not like in a prison. They were able to live there as did so many other Jews who hid themselves either in the city, or in the countryside. They “hid themselves without hiding.” Their adventure was sadly commonplace. It did not have that fantastic, absurd, and obviously deceitful character that Mr. Frank had wanted to pass off as being realistic, authentic, and true to life. After the war, just as the friends of Mr. Frank were prepared to testify on his behalf, so were they hesitant to guarantee the narrative of the Diary. Just as much as they were able to offer themselves as guarantors of the real sufferings of Mr. Frank and of his family, so did it seem difficult for them to bear witness, in addition, to imaginary sufferings. Kraler, Koophuis, Miep, Elli, and Henk showed their friendship to Mr. Frank; they publicly showed their sympathy for him as for a man full of charm and, at the same time, overwhelmed with misfortunes. Perhaps they felt flattered to be presented in the press as his companions in his days of misfortune. Perhaps certain among them accepted the idea that, when a man has suffered, he has the moral right to exaggerate somewhat the story of his sufferings. In the eyes of certain of them, the main point could have been that Mr. Frank and his family had had to suffer cruelly at the hands of the Germans; in that case the “details” of those sufferings mattered little. But kindness has its limits. Mr. Frank found only one person to guarantee his account of the existence of the Diary. That person was his former secretary and friend: Miep Van Santen (by her real name, Miep Gies). Still the testimony of Miep is strangely hesitant. Her testimony comes back to saying that after the arrest of the Franks, she had gathered up from the floor of a room of the annex a diary, an account book, some notebooks and a certain number of loose leaf sheets. For her it was a matter of objects belonging to Anne Frank. Miep only gave that testimony in an official form thirty years after the events, on 5 June 1974, in the office of Mr. Antoun Jacob Dragt, a notary in Amsterdam. Miep added that she had made the discovery with Elli. But, on the same day, in the presence of the same notary, the latter declared that she remembered having been there when those things had been discovered but she did no more remember exactly how they had been discovered. The restraint is important and it must not have pleased Mr. Frank.
Schnabel wrote (see above) that all the “witnesses” he had questioned — including, consequently, Miep, Elli, Henk, and Koophuis — had behaved as if they had to protect themselves against the legend of Anne Frank. He added that if they all had read the Diary, they nevertheless did not mention it. That last sentence means obviously that, in each interview with a witness, it was Schnabel himself who had to take the initiative in speaking of the Diary. We know that his book had not been published in the Netherlands, except in a shortened and censored form: it is in the Netherlands that the principal “witnesses” are located. For its part, the article from Der Spiegel (see above) proves that others of Mr. Frank’s “Witnesses” have ended up having the same negative reactions. The foundations of the myth of Anne Frank – a myth that rests on the truth and authenticity of the Diary – have not been strengthened with time: they have crumbled.
Who betrayed the Franks?
The “betrayer” and the person who arrested the Franks: why has Mr. Frank wanted to assure them anonymity?
Since 1944, Mr. Frank and his friends knew that their alleged “betrayer” was named Van Maaren and the person who arrested them was named Silberbauer. Van Maaren was one of the employees in their store. Silberbauer was a non-commissioned officer of the Security Service (SD) in Amsterdam. In the Diary, as well as in the previously mentioned book by Schnabel, Van Maaren is called V.M. As regards Silberbauer, he is called Silberthaler in Schnabel’s book. It seems that, at the time of the Liberation, Van Maaren had some trouble with the law in his country. His guilt could not be proved, Mr. Frank told me. “V.M. had had enough troubles like that and he should be left alone.” Schnabel had not wanted to obtain the testimony of V.M. nor had he wanted to obtain that of the arresting officer.
In 1963, the world press suddenly echoed with a startling news story: Simon Wiesenthal had just rediscovered the person who arrested the Franks. He was Karl Silberbauer, a police official in Vienna. Wiesenthal had not informed Mr. Frank about his research. The latter, questioned by journalists, declared that he had known for nearly twenty years the name of the person who arrested him. He added that that entire affair was unfortunate and that Silberbauer had only done his duty in arresting him. Miep, for her part, declared that, if she had used the pseudonym of Silberthaler to designate the arresting officer, that was only at the request of Mr. Frank; the latter had pointed out that there could, as a matter of fact, be some other persons bearing the name of Silberbauer to whom, consequently, some harm could be done: (De Heer Frank) had mij verzocht de naam Silberthaler te noemen, omdat er misschien nog meer mensen Silberbauer heetten en die zouden wij dan in diskrediet brengen (Volkskrant, 21 November 1963).
There was a kind of struggle between Simon Wiesenthal and Mr. Frank. It was the latter who in a way got the best of it. As a matter of fact, Karl Silberbauer was, at the end of eleven months, reinstated in the Viennese police. A disciplinary commission, sitting behind closed doors (as is the custom), released him. The judgment in the appeal commission (Oberdisziplinarkommission) was likewise favourable to Silberbauer, as were also conclusions of a commission of inquiry of the Ministry of the Interior. Silberbauer had indeed arrested the Franks at 263 Prinsengracht, but his participation in “War crimes against the Jews or members of the Resistance” could not be proved. In June of 1978, I obtained an interview with Simon Wiesenthal in his office in Vienna. In regard to that affair, he declared to me that Mr. Frank was “crazy.” In his opinion, Mr. Frank, in his concern to maintain a cult (that of his daughter), meant to spare the former Nazis, while he, Simon Wiesenthal, had only one concern: that of seeing justice done. Simon Wiesenthal did not know the real name of the store employee V.M. There again Mr. Frank had done what was necessary: the Royal Institute of Documentation (for the Second World War), directed by his friend Louis De Jong, responded, if we are to believe an Amsterdam newspaper (Trouw, 22 November 1963), that that name would not be given to Mr. Wiesenthal, even if he asked for it: deze naam zou men zelfs aan Mr. Wiesenthal niet doorgeven, wanneer deze daarom zou verzoeken.
The authorities in Vienna were not able to authorize me to consult the records of the commissions of inquiry. As to Karl Silberbauer, he died in 1972. My inquiry was therefore limited to the analysis of some Dutch, German, and French newspapers from 1963 and 1964 and to the interviewing of a witness whom I believe to be well informed, honest, and possessed of a good memory. That witness begged us, my companion and myself, not to reveal his name. I have promised to say nothing about his name. I will keep my promise only half-way. The importance of his testimony is such that it seemed impossible to me to pass over it in silence. The name of that witness and his address as well as the name of my companion and his address are put down in a sealed envelope [Annex 2].
Here is, to begin with, what I would call: “The testimony of Karl Silberbauer, collected by a Dutch journalist of the Hague Post and translated into German by a Jewish German journalist of the Allgemeine Wochenzeitung der Juden in Deutschland (6 December 1963, page 10).” Silberbauer recounts that at the time (4 August 1944) he had received a telephone call from an unknown person who had revealed to him that some Jews remained hidden in an office on Prinsengracht: “I then alerted eight Dutchmen of the Security Service (SD) and went with them to Prinsengracht. I saw that one of my Dutch companions tried to speak to an employee but the latter made a gesture with his thumb toward the upstairs.” Silberbauer described how he entered the place where the Jews kept themselves hidden: “The people ran in all directions and packed their suitcases. One man then came toward me and presented himself as being Otto Frank. He had been, he said, a reserve officer in the German Army. To my question about the length of time that they had been in hiding, Frank had answered: ‘Twenty-five months.’ Seeing that I did not want to believe him, Silberbauer continued, he took the hand of a young girl who stood at his side. That must have been Anne. He placed the child against the side post of a door, which bore some marks in various places. I spoke again to Frank: ‘What a pretty girl you have there!’” Silberbauer said then that he had only very much later made the connection between that arrest and what the newspapers said about the Frank family. After the war, his reading of the Diary surprised him very much. He especially did not understand how Anne could have known that the Jews were gassed: “We were all unaware,” Silberbauer explained, “of what awaited the Jews. I especially do not understand how Anne in her diary could assert that the Jews were gassed.” In the opinion of Silberbauer, nothing would have happened to the Franks if they had not kept themselves hidden.
That exclusive interview with Silberbauer constitutes a very faithful summary, I think, of the remarks attributed by the journalists to the person who arrested the Frank family. The testimony that I announced above (page 99) confirms in general the content of the interview, with the exception that the episode of the raised thumb would be a sheer fabrication. Silberbauer supposedly noted nothing of the kind, for the good reason that he is supposed to have made his way immediately toward the annex. He did nothing but take the corridor and the stairway, without any detour toward the offices or the stores. And it is there that the testimony in question furnishes us with an important element. One will have noticed that, in his interview, the policeman does not state precisely how he had access to the place where those in hiding kept themselves. He does not mention the existence of a “swinging cupboard” (ein drehbares Regal). But my witness is quite positive: Silberbauer had never encountered anything of the kind, but a heavy wooden door like one finds at the entrance, for example, of a storehouse. The exact word was ein Holzverschlag. The policeman had simply knocked at the door and it had been opened to him. A third point of this testimony is, if possible, still more important. Karl Silberbauer said and repeated that he did not believe in the authenticity of the famous Diary, because, according to him, there had never been on the site anything that would resemble the manuscripts that Miep claimed to have found scattered about the floor one week after 4 August 1944. The policeman had the professional habit of carrying out arrests and searches since before the war. Such a pile of documents would not have escaped his notice. (Let us add here that eight men accompanied him and that the entire operation had been conducted slowly and correctly and then the policeman, after having entrusted the key to the premises to V.M. or to another employee, had returned to the premises on three occasions.) Silberbauer, the witness asserts, had the habit of saying that Miep had not, in reality, played a great role in that whole story (whence comes the fact that they had not even arrested her). Afterwards, Miep had tried to give herself some importance, notably with that episode of the miraculous discovery of the manuscripts.
The same witness declared to me, in the presence of my companion, that Silberbauer in 1963-1964 had drawn up an account, for the courts, of the arrest of the Franks and that those details might appear, in that account. A second witness certainly could have given me very valuable testimony on the statements of Silberbauer, but that second witness preferred to say nothing.
Comparing the Dutch and German texts
I have two texts in front of me. The first is in Dutch (D), while the second is in German (G). The publishers tell me that D is the original text, while G is the translation of that original text. I do not have a priori any reason to challenge their word. But scientific rigour, as well as common sense and experience, teach that it is necessary to receive the statements of publishers with caution. It happens, as a matter of fact, that there can be error or deceit on their part. A book is a piece of merchandise like any other. The label can be deceiving about the content. As a consequence, I will set aside here the labels that are proposed to me or that are imposed upon me. I will speak neither about the “original version in Dutch,” nor about the “translation into German.” I will temporarily suspend all judgment. I will grant a precise name to those two books only with reservations. For the moment, I will give them a name which is, at the same time, equal and neutral. I will therefore speak of “texts.”
I am going to describe the text D and the text G that I have before me. I am going to begin with text D, but I could, just as well, begin with text G. I insist on this last point. The order of succession that I have chosen here ought not to imply any succession in time, nor any relationship of filiation of the father/son kind between D and G.
My text D is presented in this manner: Anne Frank / Het Achterhuis / Dagboekbrieven / 14 Juni 1942-1 Augustus 1944/1977. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Contact; Eerste druk 1947 / Vijfenvijftigste druk 1977. The author’s text begins on page 22 with the photographic reproduction of a sort of dedication signed: “Anne Frank, 12 Juni 1942.” On page 23 appears the first of the 169 entries which make up this “diary” to which they have given the title The Annex. The book has 273 pages. The last page of the text is page 269. I estimate the length of the text itself at about 72,500 Dutch words. I have not compared the text of that 55th edition with the text of the first edition. At the time of my investigation in Amsterdam, I received assurances from Messrs. Fred Batten and Christian Blom that no change had been made in the successive editions. Those two persons were employed by the Contact publishing house and they were involved, along with Mr. P. De Neve (deceased), in the original acceptance of the typed manuscript that Mr. Frank had deposited with an interpreter by the name of Mr. Kahn. It is this Mr. Kahn who was, in 1957, to serve as the companion and interpreter for Ernst Schnabel, when the latter came to see Elli in Amsterdam.
My text G is presented in this manner: Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank / 12 Juni 1942-1 August 1944/1977. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag / No. 77 / Ungekürzte Ausgabe/43. Auflage 1293000-1332000 / Aus dem Holländischen ubertragen von Anneliese Schütz / Holländische Original-Ausgabe, Het Achterhuis. Amsterdam: Contact. After the dedication page, the first of the entries appears on page 9. There are 175 entries. The last entry ends on page 201. I estimate the length of the text at about 77,000 German words. The book has 203 pages. This paperback was first published in March 1955. Fischer obtained the Lizenzausgabe (distribution license) from the Lambert-Schneider publishing house, in Heidelberg.
I call attention to a first troubling fact. Text D has 169 entries while text G, which is presented as the translation of text D, has 175 entries.
I call attention to a second troubling fact. I set out in search of the extra entries of text G. It is not six entries that I discover (175 minus 169 equals 6), but seven entries. The explanation is the following: text G does not have the entry of 6 December 1943 from text D.
I point out a third troubling fact. Because the Dutch language and the German language are very close to each other, the translated text ought not to be appreciably longer than the text that is being translated. But, even if I disregard the number of words that make up the seven entries in question, I am very far from reaching a difference of approximately 4,500 (G 77,000 minus D 72,500 equals 4,500). Therefore, text G even when it has some entries in common with text D, has them under another form. Here are the figures:
Referring to Table 1, we see that if text G had the same number of entries as text D, the discrepancy in the word count would be approximately 4,500 minus 2,930, or 1,570 words.2 In reality, as will be seen later on, this number represents only a small part of the surplus of words that text G has. But, meanwhile, in order not to seem too attached to the calculations, I am going to give some precise examples involving approximately 550 words.
Among the entries that texts D and G apparently have in common, here are some entries (among many others) where text G has some extra fragments, that is to say some fragments with which the Dutch reader was never acquainted:
Among the entries that texts D and G apparently have in common, here are some entries (among many others) where text G is missing some fragments, that is to say some fragments with which the German reader was never acquainted:
One remarkable fact is that the fragments that are missing are very numerous and very short. For example, the letter of 20 August 1943 is cut by 19 words in text G, and those 19 words are distributed in the following manner:
3 + 1 + 4 + 4 + 7 = 19
I call attention to a fourth troubling fact. This fact is independent of the quantities that are extra or lacking. This fact is that some fragments of entries move somehow. For example, the entire next-to-the-last paragraph of text D of Donderdag, 27 April 1944 is found in the last paragraph of text G of Dienstag, 25 April 1944. On the 7th of January 1944, the last paragraph of text D becomes, in text G, the sixth paragraph before the end. On 27 April 1944, the next-to-the-last paragraph of text D becomes, in text G, the last paragraph of the entry of 25 April 1944.
I call attention to a fifth troubling fact. It is not a question, this time, of additions, of subtractions, of transferrals, but of alterations that are the sign of inconsistencies. I mean to say this: suppose that I leave aside all the features by which texts D and G differ so obviously from one another, and suppose that I turn now toward what I would call “the remainder” (a “remainder” which, according to the publishers, ought to make up “the common stock,” “the identical part”), I am surprised to find out that, from one end to the other of these two books, except with the rarest exceptions, this “remainder” is very far from being identical. As is going to be seen by the examples that follow, these inconsistencies cannot be attributed to a clumsy or whimsical translation. The same entry of 10 March 1943 gives, for text D, Bij kaarslicht (by candlelight) and, for text G, Bei Tage (By daylight); een nacht (one night) for Eines Tages (one day); Verdwenen de dieven (the robbers disappeared) for schwieg der Larm (the noise became quiet). On 13 January 1943, Anne said that she rejoiced at the prospect of buying after the war nieuwe kleren en schoenen (some new clothes and shoes); that is in text D, because in text G she speaks of neue Kleider und Bücher (of new clothes and books). On 18 May 1943, Mrs. Van Daan is als door Mouschi gebeten (as if bitten by Mouschi [the cat]); that is in text D, because in text G she is wie von einer Tarantel gestochen (as if stung by a tarantula). Depending on whether one consults D or G, a man is a “fascist” or a Riese (giant) (20 October 1942). Some “red beans and some white beans” (bruine en witte bonen) become “white beans” (weisse Bohnen) (12 March 1943). Some sandals for 6.5 florins become some sandals without indication of price (ibidem), while “five hostages” (een stuk of 5 gijzelaars) has become “a certain number of these hostages” (eine Anzahl dieser Geiseln), and that in the same entry of 9 October 1942 where “the Germans” (Duitsers) are no more than “these Germans” (diese Deutschen) who are very specifically the Nazis (see above). On 17 November 1942, Dussel meets the Franks and the Van Daans in their hiding-place. Text D says that “Miep helped him to take off his overcoat” (Miep liet hem zijn jas uitdoen); learning that the Franks are there, “he nearly fainted from surprise” and, says Anne, he remained “silent” “as if he wanted first a little time, a moment, to read the truth on our faces” (viel hij haast fiauw van verbazing sprakeloos alsof hij eerst even goed de waarheid van onze gezichten wilde lezen); but text G says of Dussel that he “had to take off his overcoat” and describes his astonishment in this way: “he could not understand he was not able to believe his eyes” (Er musste den Mantel ausziehen kannte er es nicht fassen und wollte seinen Augen nicht trauen). A person who suffered from an eye problem and who “bathed it with camomile tea” (bette het met kamillen-the) becomes a person who “made himself some compresses” (machte Umschläge) (10 December 1942). Where “Papa” alone is waiting (Pim verwacht) it is “we” all who are waiting (Wir erwarten) (27 February 1943). Where the two cats receive their names of Moffi and Tommi, according to whether they appear boche (German) or angliche (English), “just as in politics” (Net als in de politek), text G says that they were named “according to their spiritual dispositions” (Ihren Anlagen gemäss) (12 March 1943). On 26 March 1943, some people who “were quite awake” (waren veel wakken) “were in an endless fear” (schreckten immer wieder auf), “a piece of flannel” (een lap flanel) becomes a “mattress cover” (Matratzenschoner) (1 May 1943). “To go on strike” (staken) “in many areas” (in viele gebieden) becomes: “sabotage is committed on all sides” (an allen Ecken und Enden sabotiert wird) (ibidem). A “folding bed” (harmonicabed) is encountered as a “loungechair” (Liegestuhl) (21 August 1942). The following sentence: “The gunfire no longer did anything to us, our fear had gone away” (Het kanonvuur deerde ons niet meer, onze angst was weggevaad) becomes: “and the situation, for today, was saved” (und die Situation war für heute gerettet) (18 May 1943).
I had noted these few examples in inconsistencies in the course of a simple sample that did not go beyond the 54th entry of text D (18 May 1943). I decided then to initiate a much more rigorous sample, bearing on the eleven entries going from 19 July to 29 September 1943 (entries 60 to 73). To the inconsistencies, I decided to add the additions and the subtractions. The result was such that the simple enumeration of the differences noted would require several typewritten pages. I am not able to do that here. I will content myself with only a few examples here, avoiding the most striking ones because, unfortunately, the most striking are also the longest ones to cite.
- Entry of 19 July 1943 “parents killed” (dode ouders) becomes “parents” (Eltern);
- Entry of 23 July 1943: G has, in addition, at least 49 words plus 3 words;
- Entry of 26 July 1943: G has, in addition, four plus four words and is lacking two words: over Italie;
- Entry of 29 July 1943: G has twenty words missing and “twenty years” (twintig jaar) becomes “twenty-five years” (25 Jahren);
- Entry of 3 August 1943: this letter of 210 words in text G is completely missing in text D;
- Entry of 4 August 1943: D gives “couch” and G “loungechair.” In D a flea “floats” (drijft) in the wash water, “only in warm months or weeks” (allen in de hete maanden of weeken), while for G that flea must “lose his life” (sein Leben lassen) there, without any other detail concerning weather. D gives: “to use some cotton [soaked] in hydrogen peroxide (that serves to bleach her black moustache fuzz)” (waterstofwatjes hanteren [dient om zwarte snorharen te bleken]), while G gives simply: “and other little toiletry secrets“) (und andere kleine Toilettengehemniss). The comparison of “like a brook falling from a mountain” (als een beekje van een berg) becomes “like a brook on the boulders” (wie ein Bächlein über die Kiesel). Some “irregular French verbs”: this is what Anne thinks of in text D (aan Franse onregalmatige wekworden), but, in text G, this can only be about irregular Dutch verbs, it seems, because she says that she “dreams” (träume ich) of “irregular verbs” (von unregelmässigen Verben). Text G contents itself with: “Rrrrrrring, upstairs [sounds the Van Daans’] alarm” (Krrrrrrrr, oben der Wecker), while D gives: “Rrrring the little alarm [sounds], which at each hour of the day (when it is wanted or sometimes also without being wanted can raise its little voice.” (Trrr het wekkertje, dat op elk uur van de dag [als men er naar vraagt of soms ook sonder dat] zijn stemmetje kan verheffen);
- Entry of 5 August 1943: all of it is a description of the usual meal, from 1:15 pm to 1:45 pm, and of the things that follow, and there are important differences; besides, what is announced, by D, as “The great share-out” is announced by G as “small lunch” (De grote uitdeling/Kleiner Lunch). I underline the adjectives; the possible, but not certain, irony of D has disappeared in G. Of the three “couches” in D, there only remains one “couch” in G;
- Entry of 7 August 1943: this letter constitutes quite an interesting puzzle. A very long letter, it begins, in text G, with nine lines introducing a story of 74 lines entitled Kaatje as well as another story of 99 lines entitled Katrientje. This entry is completely absent from D. The Dutch, for their part, know of these stories only by way of a separate book entitled Stories, in which there appear, besides, some other “unedited stories” of Anne Frank;
- Entry of 9 August 1943: among many other curious things there are “some horn-rimmed glasses” (een hoornen bril) which become “some dark horn-rimmed glasses” (eine dunkle Hornbrille) in text G;
- Entry of 10 August 1943: the “war material” of D becomes the “guns” (Kanonen) of G. The sentence concerning the bell in the Westertoren is entirely different. And, especially, G has an episode of 140 words that does not appear in D. Anne, who has received some new shoes, tells there about a series of misadventures that had happened to her on that same day: she had pricked her right thumb with a large needle; she had bumped her head against the door of the cupboard; because of the noise caused, she received a “scolding” (Ruffel); she was not able to soothe her forehead because it was necessary not to turn on the water; she had a large bruise over her right eye; she had stubbed her toe on the vacuum cleaner; her foot became infected, it is all swollen. Result: Anne cannot put on her pretty new shoes. (You will have noticed here the presence of a vacuum cleaner in a place where silence would have had to be necessary constantly);
- Entry of 18 August 1943: among nine differences, we see some “beans” (bonen) turn into “green peas” (Erbsen);
- Entry of 20 August 1943: I will mention only one example of a difference; it concerns the bread; the narrative is appreciably different, and for text D, this bread is located in two successive places: at first the steel cupboard of the office looking out on the street (in the front house), then, the kitchen cupboard of the annex (stalen kast, Voorkantoor/Keukenkast), while G only mentions the first location, without being precise about the second; the unfortunate thing is that the first location mentioned by D is a simple cupboard located in the office looking out on the courtyard: the office of Kraler, and not that of Koophuis (“the bread, which is put in Kraler’s room for us every day”)! (About the respective offices of Kraler and of Koophuis, see the entry of 9 July 1942.) There is here a serious material contradiction between the two texts, with changes of words, of sentences, etc.;
- Entry of 23 August 1943: among other curious things, “to read or to study” (lesen of leren) becomes “to read or to write” (lesen oder schreiben), “Dickens and the dictionary” (Dickens en het woordenbook) becomes only “Dickens”, some “bolsters” (peluwen) turn into “eiderdown pillows” (Plumeaus) (in Dutch, “eider-down pillows” would be said as eiderdons or dekbed);
- Entry of 10 September 1943: among five differences, I notice that the broadcast, so eagerly awaited each day, from Radio Oranje (the Voice of Holland from overseas) begins at 8:15 pm for D and at 8:00 pm for G;
- Entry of 16 September 1943: “ten valerianes” (tien valeriaantjes) become “ten of the small white pills” (zehn von den kleinen weissen Pillen). “A long face and a drooping mouth” (een uitgestreken gezicht en neerhangende mond) became “a tight-lipped mouth with worry lines” (einen zusammengekniffennen Mund und Sorgenfalten). The winter compared to a fearful obstacle, a “biting winter” which is there like a “heavy block of stone” (het grote rotsblok, dat winter heet), is no more than a simple winter (dem Winter). An “overcoat” (jas) becomes “hat and cane” (Hut und Stock). A sentence of 24 words, claiming to describe a picturesque scene, finds itself reduced to five German words. On the other hand, six Dutch words become 13 German words with a very different meaning;
- Entry of 29 September 1943: “a grumbling father” (een mopperenden vader) becomes “the father who is not in agreement with her choice” (den Vater, der nicht mit ihrer Wahl einverstanden ist). “Energetically” (energiek) becomes ganz kalt und ruhig (in a quite cold and quiet manner), etc.
I think that it is useless to pursue such an enumeration. It is not exaggerated to say that the first entry of the collection gives us the tone of the whole. In that short letter, the Dutch learn that, for her birthday, Anne received “a little plant” (een plantje). The Germans have the privilege of learning that that plant was “a cactus” (eine Kaktee). In return, the Dutch knew that Anne received “two peony branches,” while the Germans must content themselves with knowing that there were “some peony branches” (einige Zweige Pfingstrosen). The Dutch have the right to the following sentence: “such were, that morning, the children of Flora who sat on my table” (dat waren die ochtend de kinderen van Flora, die op mijn tafel stonden). In the German text, the table has disappeared, as well as “the childen of Flora” (a curious, hackneyed phrase from the pen of a child of thirteen; one would have expected it rather from an adult seeking laboriously and artlessly to “decorate” his style). The Germans simply have the right to: “These were the first flowers offered by way of greetings” (Das waren die ersten Blumengrüsse). The Dutch learn that Anne, on that day, will offer to her teachers and to her classmates “some butter cakes” (boterkoekjes). The Germans have the right to some “candy” (Bonbons). The “chocolate,” present for the Dutch, will disappear for the Germans. More surprising: a book that Anne will be able to buy for herself with the money that has just been given to her on that Sunday 14 June 1942, becomes, in the German text, a book that she has already bought for herself (zodat ik me kan kopen/habe ich mir gekauft).
On the other hand, the last entry of the collection is identical in the two texts. That confirms for us, if there were need for it, that the German translator – if one must speak about “translation” – was quite capable of respecting the Dutch text. But it is too evident now that one cannot speak of translation, nor even of “adaptation.” Is it to translate, is it to “adapt” to put day for night (10 March 1943)? Books for shoes (13 January 1943)? Candy for butter cakes (14 June 1942}? Giant for fascist (20 October 1942)? Is “candles” translated by “day” and “cats” by “tarantula”? “To float” by “to die”? “Large” by “small” (4 August 1943)? Only magicians can change an overcoat into a hat and a cane. With Mrs. Anneliese Schütz and Mr. Frank, the table disappears (14 June 1942) and the stairway steals away (the Dutch entry of 16 September 1943 mentions a very peculiar stairway, which would have led directly to the persons in hiding: die direct naar boven leidt). The bread storage place changes its location. What is behind is encountered again in front (Kraler’s office). Numbers appear and disappear. Hours change. Faces change. Events multiply or disappear. Beings as well as things are subject to eclipses and to sudden changes. Anne, one could say, emerges from her tomb in order to come to lengthen one of her narratives or to shorten it; sometimes she writes another or even reduces it to nothingness.
Ten years after her death, Anne’s text continues to change. In 1955, the Fischer publishing house publishes her Diary. as a pocket-book under a “discreetly” reworked form. The reader could especially compare the following entries:
- 9 July 1942: Hineingekommen gemalt war (25 words) replaced by: Neben gemalt war (41 words). The appearance of a door!
- 11 July 1942: bange replaced by besorgt;
- 21 September 1942: gerügt replaced by gescholten and drei Westen changing itself into drei Wolljacken;
- 27 September 1942: mit Margot bin ich nicht mehr so intim becomes: mit Margot verstehe mich nicht sehr gut;
- 28 September 1942: bestürzt replaced by erschüttert;
- 7 November 1942: ohne den Hergang zu kennen becomes: ohne zu wissen, worum es ging and Er ist mein Ideal becomes: Er ist mein leuchtendes Vorbild. That last change of the text is not lacking in savour, if one knows that it is a question here of Anne’s father. Mr. Frank is no longer an “ideal” for his daughter, but “a shining model”! Another change: und das Ärgste ist becomes: und am schlimmsten ist;
- 7 August 1943: I pointed out above (see page 104) this very long letter that contains two stories. I suppose that these stories existed in the manuscript which had been reserved for them and that they had been wrongly inserted into the Diary. In that case, one asks oneself who wrote the nine lines of introduction, where Anne asks her correspondent especially if she believes that her stories are going to please children.
These last changes were made from one German text to another German text. They could therefore not have the excuse of a clumsy or whimsical translation. They prove that the Diary’s author – the term that I ordinarily use for the person responsible for the text that I am reading – was still alive in 1955. In the same way, in discovering the German text of 1950 (Lambert-Schneider edition), I discovered that the author of the Diary (an especially prolific author) was still alive in 1950. That author could not have been Anne Frank, who, as we know, died in 1945.
In any comparisons of the texts, I have followed the official chronological order. I have shown how the text printed in Dutch (1947) clashed with the first printed German text (1950), which, in its turn, underwent some strange metamorphosis in the second printed German text (1955). But, scientifically speaking, nothing proves that the chronological order of publication reflects the chronological order of composition. For example, there could have been some manuscript in German which preceded the putting together of the Dutch manuscripts. It could be that the model or the “first edition” outline had been written in German. It could be that afterwards that model or that outline, after having given birth to a text translated into Dutch, had also given birth to an entirely rewritten German text. It could be that, for several years, some very different texts had thus lived in symbiosis. That phenomenon is called the phenomenon of contamination. It is nevertheless clear that Mr. Frank cannot make that argument about the contamination of the texts, because there exists, according to him, one single text: that of the Dutch manuscripts. For certain periods of the twenty-five months at the Prinsengracht, it is possible that the different manuscripts of the Diary offer us some variant readings; still, those variant readings could not provide us with the innumerable absurdities and inconsistencies that we have seen. For other periods, such as that of an entire year (from 6 December 1942 to 21 December 1943), when, according to Mr. Frank’s own admission, we have at our disposal only one version, there ought not to exist the slightest variant reading, not the slightest disagreement between text D and text G. It is for that reason that I chose from that period the largest number of my examples of inconsistencies.
I have noticed, in my samplings, neither more nor fewer inconsistencies for that period than for the other periods. In a uniform way, text D presents us an Anne Frank who has, if not the traits, at least fits the stereotype of the young adolescent, while text G offers us the stereotype of the adolescent already near, in certain respects, to being a mature woman. There are, in text G, some passages that are incompatible with the corresponding passages of text D, and even formally incompatible with the entire substance of all of text D. There we reach the height of the intolerable in the manipulation of texts. Here is, for example, the letter of 5 January 1944. Anne confesses that before her time in hiding, that is to say, before the age of thirteen, she had happened, while spending the night at the home of a girlfriend, to feel the need to kiss her: “ I had a strong desire to kiss her, and I did do so “ (een sterke behoefte had haar te zoenen en dat ik dat ook gedaan her). In text G there appears a girl of thirteen who is appreciably more knowing. Here, Anne asked her comrade for a night if, as a token of their friendship, they could feel each others breasts. But the comrade refused. And Anne, who appears to have practice in the matter, adds: “I still found it pleasant to kiss her and I did it” (fragte ich sie, ob wir als Beweis unserer Freundschaft uns gegenseitig die Brüste befühlen wollten, aber sie weigerte sich. Ich fand es immer sch…n, sie zu küssen, und habe es auch getan). On the sexual feelings of Anne, I recommend likewise the comparative reading of texts D and G for 7 January 1944.
It is astonishing that the Dutch reader had been deprived of so many revelations reserved by Mr. Frank and Anneliese Schütz for Anne’s grandmother, who was so “aged” (see above). What of the revelations again in text G on musical tastes or on musical knowledge that the Dutch did not have the right to know (for what reason, after all?)! Text G of the letter of 9 June 1944 reserves for us the sole rights to a dissertation of 200 words on the life of Liszt (treated, by a very feminist Anne, as a “petticoat chaser”/Schürzenjäger), of Beethoven, Wagner, Chopin, Rossini, Mendelssohn. Many other names are mentioned: Hector Berlioz, Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac The entry of 20 February 1944 (220 words) is absent from text D. It contains however some elements of very great importance from many points of view. Dussel has the habit of whistling das Violin-Konzert von Beethoven; the use of time on Sundays is revealed to us; it must be recognized that one point, at least, about that use of time is more than troubling: Mr. Frank in overalls, on his knees, brushing the carpet with such enthusiasm that the entire room is filled with clouds of dust (Vater liegt im Overall auf den Knien und bürstet den Teppich mit solchem Elan, dass das ganze Zimmer in Staubwolken gehüllt ist). In addition to the noise that such an operation would cause in a place where even at night, when the neighbours are not there, it is necessary not to cough, it is obvious that the scene is described by someone who could not have seen it: a carpet is never brushed in that way on the floor of a room, in the very place where it became dusty. In the entry of 3 November 1943, a fragment of 120 words, which is missing in text D, reveals to us another case of the carpet being brushed each evening by Anne in the Ofenluft (the air from the stove), and that because the vacuum cleaner (der Staubsauger) ist kaputt (that famous vacuum cleaner which, according to Mr. Frank, could not have existed; see above). Concerning Anne’s knowledge or ideas on the subject of historical or political events, one will make some discoveries in the entries of 6 June, 13 June and 27 June 1944. On Peter’s character one will find some revelations in the entry of 11 May 1944. That entry of 400 words does not exist in text D. But nevertheless, in text D, we find a letter at that date of 11 May; however, the corresponding text is dated, in text G, on 12 May! Peter defies his mother while calling her “the old lady” (Komm mit, Alte!). Nothing like the Peter of text D!
It would be interesting to subject each of the principal characters of text D and of text G to analysis by psychologists or psychiatrists. Anne, in particular, would appear under some profoundly contradictory character traits. But this is purely hypothetical. I think that in fact those analysts would see that Anne has no more real consistency than a total invention of unrelated facets. The few so-called descriptions of Anne that I have been able to find have especially convinced me that their authors have read the Diary very superficially. It is true that the dullness of their descriptions could be explained by the dullness of the subject described. One stereotype calls for another, as one lie calls for another.
The language and the style of text D strive to be characteristic of a young adolescent, innocent and awkward. The language and the style of text G strive to be characteristic of an adolescent already close, in certain respects, to being a woman. That is evident simply from the parts of the texts that I have mentioned — parts that I did not choose, however, with a view to studying the language and the style of the two Anne Franks.
Mr. Frank has indulged in some storytelling. That is easily established when one sees how he has transformed the printed German text of 1950 (Lambert-Schneider) in order to make from it the text printed by Fischer (1955). It was on that occasion, in particular, that he made his daughter Anne say that her father is her “ideal” (1950 version); then, after thinking it over, that he is her “shining model” (1955 version). This inclination for storytelling did not come to Mr. Frank all at once. He had, we are told by one of Anne’s former teachers, the harmless idiosyncrasy of composing stories and poems with his daughter (“Sometimes she told me stories and poems which she had made up together with him,” Anne Frank: A Portrait in Courage, page 41). That happened about 1940. Anne was eleven years old and her father was 51. In 1942, Mr. Frank, a former banker in Frankfurt and a former merchant and businessman in Amsterdam, took a forced retirement at the age of 53. I do not think that his inclination for writing had disappeared then during his long days of inactivity. In any case, the Diary hardly gives us any information about what Mr. Frank did with his days. But what does it matter! Mr. Frank is a storyteller who has given himself away. The drama of storytellers is that they add more to their stories. They never stop retouching, reworking, cutting out, correcting. By doing this they end up incurring the distrust of certain people. And it is child’s play for those people to prove the storytelling. It is very easy to confound Mr. Frank. It is sufficient to have at hand text D and one of the two different versions of text G. It is enough to remind him that he had declared in writing to the Dutch: “I guarantee to you that here, on such and such a date, Anne wrote: day or shoes or butter cakes or fascist or large,” while to the Germans he has gone on to declare in writing regarding the same places and the same dates: “I guarantee to you that Anne wrote: night or books or candy or giant or small.” If Mr. Frank told the truth in the first case, he told a story in the second case. And vice-versa. He has told a story either here, or there. Or again — and this is the most probable — he has made up the story here and there. In any case, one could never claim that Mr. Frank, in this affair of the Diary, is a man who has told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
The Diary cannot be in any way authentic. Consultation with allegedly authentic manuscripts is unnecessary. As a matter of fact, no manuscript in the world could certify that Anne Frank succeeded in the miraculous feat of writing two words at the same time and — what is more — two words with incompatible meanings, and — even more — two complete texts at the same time, which are most of the time totally contradictory. It is well understood that every printed text can have a critical apparatus with its variant readings, its explanatory notes, its indications of the existence of possible interpolations, etc. But I have already said (see above) that where one has at one’s disposal only one manuscript, there are no longer any possible variant readings (barring specific cases: difficulties in deciphering a word, errors in preceding editions, etc.). And when one has at one’s disposal several manuscripts (two, at the most, for certain periods of the Diary; perhaps three in some very limited cases), it is sufficient to eliminate those periods and those cases in order to confine oneself strictly to the periods and to the cases where it is necessary to be contented with a single manuscript (here, the period from 6 December 1942 to 21 December 1943).
To the hypothesis, henceforth inconceivable, according to which there would exist an authentic manuscript, I say that none of the printed texts can claim to reproduce the text of the manuscript. The following table establishes, in fact, that the Fischer edition of 1955 comes in the eighth position in the order of succession of the varying forms of the Diary. To understand this table, refer especially to the discussion starting on page 93.
(‘Official’) Chronological table of successive forms of the text of the Diary
- The manuscript of Anne Frank;
- Copy by Otto Frank, then by Otto Frank and Isa Cauvern;
- New version of the copy by Otto Frank and Isa Cauvern;
- New-new version of the copy by Albert Cauvern;
- New-new-new version by Otto Frank;
- New-new-new-new version by Otto Frank and the “Censors”;
- Contact edition (1947);
- Lambert Schneider edition (1950), radically different from the preceding one, and even incompatible with it;
- Fischer edition (1955) taking up again the preceding one in a “discreetly” (?) reworked and retouched form.
One could, of course, claim that 5was perhaps only a very faithful copy of 4. The same for 7in relation to 6. That would be to suppose that Mr. Frank, who reworked this text constantly, had suddenly refrained from doing it at the moment of recopying text 4without any witness, and at the moment of the probable correction of the printer’s proofs for 7. Personally, I maintain these nine stages as a minimum to which it is necessary indeed to add one, two or three “copies” for text 8.
The only interest in a study of the manuscripts allegedly by Anne Frank would be to bring to light some elements still more crushing for Mr. Frank: for example, some letters or fragments of letters that have never been published (the reasons for non-publication should be inquired into closely, without trusting in the reasons given by Mr. Frank, which always have a very suspicious sentimental colouring); for example also, some very changeable names for Anne’s “correspondents” (the idea of showing her always addressing herself to the same “dear Kitty” seems to be a belated idea), etc.
The reasoning which would consist of claiming that in the Diary there would exist nevertheless a basis of truth would be a reasoning without value. First, because it would be necessary to know that truth or to be able to distinguish it in the jumble of the obvious fictions; the lie is, most often, only the art of adapting the truth. Then, because a work of the mind (as, for example, the editing of a “diary”) is not defined by a basis, but by a unity of forms: the forms of a written expression, the forms which an individual has given to it once and for all, for better or for worse.
The reasoning which would consist of saying that there have only been some hundreds of changes between such and such form of the Diary is fallacious. The word “changes” is too vague. It allows, according to the taste of each person, all sorts of condemnations or, especially, all sorts of excuses. Furthermore, a change can involve, as we have seen, a single word or a text of 1,600 words!
For my part, I have called attention to several hundreds of changes, only between the Dutch text and either of the two texts — which differ from each other — that have been published in Germany. I call those changes: additions, subtractions, transferences, and alterations (by substitutions of one word for another, of one group of words of another — these words and these groups of words being incompatible with each other, even if indeed, by the rarest exception, the meaning could be maintained). The whole of these changes must affect approximately 25,000 words of the Fischer text which itself must be 77,000 words (that is, in any case, the number which I take for a base).
The French translation of Het Achterhuis can be called a “translation” in spite of the absence of one of the 169 entries of the Dutch Contact edition and notwithstanding indeed some weaknesses and also some bizarre things which lead one to think that there still could be some troublesome discoveries to be made. (Journal de Anne Frank, Het Achterhuis, translated from the Dutch by T. Caren and Suzanne Lombard, Calmann-Levy, 1950, printed 5 January 1974, 320 pages.) The Lambert Schneider edition cannot in any event be presented as a translation. As to the Fischer edition, it cannot call itself a reproduction of the Lambert Schneider edition, nor a translation of Het Achterhuis.
That impressive ensemble of additions, subtractions, transferences, alterations; those fictions of Mr. Frank; those dishonesties of the editors; those interventions of outsiders, friends of Mr. Frank, the existence of two such different books presented as one and the same Diary of Anne Frank — all these reveal a work which cannot, in any way, retain the prestige attached to an authentic testimony. The inconsistencies of the various texts are of all kinds. They concern the language and the style, the length and the form of the pieces that make up the Diary, the number and the kind of anecdotes reported, the description of the premises, the mention of material realities, the dialogues, the ideas exchanged, the tastes expressed; they concern the very personalities of the principal characters, to begin with the personality of Anne Frank, a personality which gives the impression of living in a world of pure fiction.
While offering himself as personal guarantor of the authenticity of this work, which is only fiction, Mr. Frank, who has besides obviously intervened at all stages of the genesis of the book, has signed what it is appropriate to call a literary fraud. The Diary of Anne Frank is to be placed on the already crowded shelf of false memoirs. Our post-war period has been fertile in works or writings of this kind. Among those false, apocryphal, or suspicious works (either entirely, or by insertions of foreign elements) one can mention: the various “testimonies” of Rudolf H…ss, Kurt Gerstein, Miklos Nyiszli, Emmanuel Ringelblum, the memoirs of Eva Braun, Adolf Eichmann, Walter Schellenberg, but also the document entitled: “Prayer of John XXIII for the Jews.” One must mention especially the false diaries fabricated by the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and denounced by the French historian Michel Borwicz, of Polish Jewish origin; among those diaries could appear that of one Therese Hescheles, aged thirteen.
l would take care not to forget that one of the most celebrated forgeries was fabricated against the Jews: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I ask that people not misunderstand the direction that I have given to my research on the authenticity of the Diary of Anne Frank. Even if my personal conviction is that the work comes from Mr. Frank; even if I think that at the rate of two letters per day, three months would have been enough for him to prepare the first version of his clumsy fiction; even if I think that he did not believe that his work would know such an immense success (which, at the same time, would risk causing its terrible faults to become evident); even if I think that one can then find many extenuating circumstances for him; even if I have the conviction that he did not at all seek to make up a vast hoax, but that he found himself dragged along by circumstances to guarantee all the extraordinarily brilliant results of a humble and banal undertaking — in spite of all that, the truth obliges me to say that The Diary of Anne Frank is only a simple literary fraud.
French editor’s postscript (1980)
The report you have just read was not destined for publication. In the mind of Professor Faurisson, it only constituted one piece, among others, of a work that he intended to devote to The Diary of Anne Frank.
We publish it today — in spite of the reticence of its author who, for his part, would have hoped for a more extended publication including some elements which are still being worked on because the French press and the foreign press have created an uproar about the professor’s opinion on the Diary of Anne Frank. The public itself may feel the need to judge these pieces. We have thus wished to put the essential part of these pieces at its disposal. You can thus make for yourself your own judgments on Faurisson’s methods of work and on the results to which they had led him by August of 1978.
This report, in the exact form under which we publish it, already has an official existence. It was in August of 1978 that it was sent, in its German version, to the lawyer Jürgen Rieger to be presented as evidence at a court in Hamburg. Mr. Rieger was and still remains today the defender of Ernst Remer, subjected to a trial for having publicly expressed his doubts as to the Diary‘s authenticity.
The court, after having heard the parties and having begun to examine the basis of the litigation, decided, to everyone’s surprise, to adjourn any new session sine die.
According to the usual scenario, from the time the trial opened the press dictated to the court the conduct to follow. The Social Democratic Party of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt went into the front lines of the battle and in a long open letter vigorously took a position in favour of Mr. Frank. For this political party the cause was judged in advance, and the authenticity of the Diary had been proved a long time ago.
The court in question, in spite of the efforts of Mr. Rieger to start the trial once more, has never rendered its judgment. The German press deplored the fact that Mr. Otto Frank still had to wait for “justice to be done.” Still, this refusal to judge constitutes progress. In a similar case, Professor Faurisson had drawn up a five-page report summarizing his research and his conclusions about the “gas chambers.” That statement was signed and the signature was notarized. The professor had gone so far as to cite the text of the French government’s Journal officiel establishing that a legalization of signature in France was valid in West Germany. A waste of effort: in its holdings the Court ruled that “Faurisson” was only a pseudonym. For the same reason it refused the testimony of the American professor Arthur R. Butz. Justice is equal for all, subject to the exceptio diabolica.
Photographic documentation as presented in Serge Thion (ed.), Vérité historique ou vérité politique?, La Vielle Taupe, Paris 1980