For many, Otto Frank is mainly known as the father of Anne Frank. Her diary has been read the world over by multiple generations of readers and has been adapted for the stage and screen numerous times.
In 2003, writer Carol Ann Lee published a biography of Otto Frank entitled The Hidden Life of Otto Frank. The book tells Otto’s story, from his childhood in Germany to the horrors of the Holocaust and finally, the post war years, as his youngest daughter’s diary became a worldwide cultural sensation.
I really enjoyed this biography. I enjoyed because Otto is given the spotlight that he deserves. The book is quite a hefty read in terms of content and length, but it also engaging. Ms. Lee was extremely thorough in her research, telling the story of a man who has become a symbol of an era when hate and prejudice ruled. She also asked the question that many of us have asked over the years: who betrayed Anne, Otto and the rest of the residents of the annex to the Nazis?
I absolutely recommend it.
Among the 1.5 million children that were killed in the Holocaust, Anne Frank is one of the most famous. Her diary, published after the war has been read by millions of readers over the years. But what if Anne survived?
This is the premise of the new book, Annelies: A Novel, by David R. Gillham. The book starts off just after the end of the war. Anne has survived and made her way back to her father, Otto Frank. Out of the eight people who hid for two years in the annex, they are the only survivors. Though she looks like the same Anne, the horrors she experienced have profoundly affected her psyche and outlook on the world. This creates conflict with her father, who is doing everything he can to return to normal life.
Will Anne be able to find the emotional freedom and security that she once took for granted and more importantly, will her relationship with her father heal?
The reviews on goodreads are mixed. As someone who is familiar with the diary and the person that Anne Frank was, I had to remind myself that this is a work of fiction. This not a non-fiction book. It’s essentially a what-if narrative, using what is known about Anne and those around her to tell a new story. In my opinion, Mr. Gillham should be given some slack and be allowed to use creative license while drawing on documented facts about his subject.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
In a way, Anne Frank was both ordinary and extraordinary. She was ordinary because she was just another teenage girl going through the same experiences that every teenage girl goes through. She was extraordinary because even as a young woman, her writing reflected a mature quality that many writers take years to develop. She was also extraordinary because she was and continues to be the voice for the millions of children whose lives were taken needlessly during World War II.
After the war, her father, Otto Frank, the only member of her family to survive the Nazi Holocaust, returned to their hiding place and discovered his daughter’s diary. Initially published in the late 1952, The Diary of Anne Frank has not been out of print since then. It is the diary of a young Jewish girl hiding with her family during World War II. It is an extraordinary book about an ordinary young woman growing up under extraordinary and scary circumstances.
The first film adaptation of the book premiered in 1959. Millie Perks stepped into the lead role and Joseph Schildkraut played Anne’s beloved father, Otto.
In 2001, a TV movie, based on the book premiered. In this adaptation, Hannah Taylor Gordon played Anne and Ben Kingsley played Otto Frank. The difference between this adaptation and previous adaptations was that the story did not end with the discovery of the Annex. It followed the story as the member of the secret Annex lived and died in the concentration camps. The difference between this adaptation is much darker than earlier ones, it is not for the faint of heart, especially towards the end.
I recommend all three.
Today is the 70th anniversary of the discovery of secret annex. Anne Frank , an ordinary teenage girl was hiding in the annex with her family and several others. They were sent arrested and deported to concentration camps. Otto Frank, Anne’s father was only one to survive and live to old age.
This girl was a remarkable writer. Her thoughts and feelings documented in her diary are so ordinary in the life of a teenage girl. Yet her words are so extraordinary because they were in hiding. I keep imagining what kind of stories and characters she might have introduced the world to, had she survived. Some writers are lucky enough to have a gift for writing that is obvious at a young age. Anne was one of those writers. But we will never know what kind of writer she would have become as an adult.