The Diary of Anne Frank has been read by millions of readers since it was published in 1947. The ending is both hopeful and devastating. The one question that still leaves us hanging after 70+ years, is who was responsible for the betrayal of the residents of the Annex?
The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, by Rosemary Sullivan, was published this month. The book follows the multi-year search led by FBI investigator Vincent Pankoke to answer the question once and for all. Using modern cold case investigative methodologies and working with a team of historians and other experts, no detail is left to the wind. Every clue is followed to the bitter end, leading to a suspect that if proven to be the one, has gone undetected for nearly a century.
I know it is only January, but I can already see this book topping the list of best books of 2022. It is a heart-pounding thriller that kept me hooked until the final page. As we got closer to the end, I wanted to know who was responsible. If nothing else, it is a reminder that getting justice is still possible, even when those directly affected are no longer with us. When it closed for the last time, I knew that there was a light in the darkness. Perhaps history will not repeat itself and we will finally learn the lessons of diversity and respect.
Anne Frank is many things to many people, depending on whom one talks to. She was an ordinary teenage girl who went through the changes that we all went through at that age. She was a budding writer whose literary skills showed promise. She is an icon not just for the 1.5 million Jewish children who were slaughtered in The Holocaust, but for children around the world who are living and dying in war zones today. She is reminder of what hate and prejudice can do when we are blind to the humanity of our fellow mortals.
But the question is, who owns Anne’s likeness and more importantly, who owns how she is represented to the world? This question is answered in the new book, The Phenomenon of Anne Frank. Written by David Barnouw and edited by Jeanette K. Ringold, the book traces the history of Anne’s story from an ordinary teenage girl who was murdered because she was Jewish to an international icon who represents so much to so many.
The premise of this book sounded promising. However, it was a bit too scholarly and dry for my taste.
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.