Nearly 72 years ago, Holocaust survivor Otto Frank released his daughter’s posthumous diary for the world to read. Since then, The Diary of a Young Girl has been published in more than 60 languages and young Anne Frank has become a global icon.
Though she died at age 15 in Bergen Belsen, both Anne and her diary remains as relevant as ever, continuing to educate youth about the horrors of the Holocaust, in particular, and hate and discrimination, in general.
But in 2018 — a turbulent year during which many observers drew parallels between current American policies and Nazi Germany — perhaps it’s not surprising that Anne was seemingly on people’s minds more than ever. Her name was frequently in the news this year: For example, in August, after public outcry, Amsterdam’s Anne and Frank Bakery was forced to change its name. More recently, a retired FBI agent launched a hi-tech project to solve the “ultimate cold case:” Who exactly betrayed the Frank family and gave up their hiding place in the Annex?
Intriguingly, however, 2018 also seems to be a year in which other writers and artists were inspired by her tragic story and compelling words. As we do here at Kveller, we rounded up a sampling of all the Anne Frank “extras” that appeared this year.
Anne Frank is brought to life — and to new readers — with this graphic novelization of her famous diary. The book, by illustrator David Polonsky and writer Ari Folman, mixes diary passages and fantasy sequences with evocative illustrations. The idea, they say, was to “bring the diary into the twenty-first century.”
This “workshop performance” by Jewish comedian Rachel McKay Steele debuted this year. In the solo act, Steele both performs as the young survivor and hosts a memorial for the young Holocaust victim. While audience members munch on bagels, babka and rugelach (customary shiva food), Steele explores why The Diary of a Young Girl resonates with so many.
3. The release of Anne’s “dirty” jokes
Anne’s diary was heavily edited when it was first released to the world. But this year brought new revelations: To our delight, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam announced in May that researchers finally deciphered two pages of Anne’s diary that contain “five crossed out phrases, four ‘dirty’ jokes and 33 lines about sex education and prostitution.”
Here’s a sneak peek at one of these jokes: “A man had a very ugly wife and he didn’t want to have relations with her. One evening he came home and then he saw his friend in bed with his wife, then the man said: He gets to, and I have to!!!”
A talented young writer, and a comedian, too!
This Los Angeles production was a word-for-word staging of Wendy Kesselman’s 1977 adaptation of the original 1955 play (which is based on Anne’s diary, of course). But this very 2018 version had a twist: It featured an all Latinx cast. Directed by former Roseanne writer Stan Zimmerman, the production silently but powerfully alluded to the plight of refugees hoping to enter the U.S. today.
OK — this book isn’t technically being published until January 2019, but, hey, that’s super soon. Written by David R. Gillham, this novel is set in a world where Anne Frank survives the Holocaust. The author imagines Anne reuniting with her father, Pim, in newly liberated Amsterdam in 1945. Drawing upon six years of research, Gillham explores challenges and triumphs Anne would have endured, and the woman she would have become.