Anne Frank kept a diary from June 12, 1942, to August 1, 1944. Initially, she wrote it strictly for herself. Then, one day in 1944, Gerrit Bolkestein, a member of the Dutch government in exile, announced in a radio broadcast from London that after the war he hoped to collect eyewitness accounts of the suffering of the Dutch people under the German occupation, which could be made available to the public. As an example, he specifically mentioned letters and diaries.
Impressed by this speech, Anne Frank decided that when the war was over she would publish a book based on her diary. She began rewriting and editing her diary, improving on the text, omitting passages she didn’t think were interesting enough and adding others from memory. At the same time, she kept up her original diary. In the scholarly work The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition (1989), Anne’s first, unedited diary is referred to as version a, to distinguish it from her second, edited diary, which is known as version b.
The last entry in Anne’s diary is dated August 1, 1944. On August 4, 1944, the eight people hiding in the Secret Annex were arrested. Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, the two secretaries working in the building, found Anne’s diaries strewn all over the floor. Miep Gies tucked them away in a desk drawer for safekeeping. After the war, when it became clear that Anne was dead, she gave the diaries, unread, to Anne’s father, Otto Frank.
After long deliberation, Otto Frank decided to fulfill his daughter’s wish and publish her diary. He selected material from versions a and b, editing them into a shorter version later referred to as version c. Readers all over the world know this as The Diary of a Young Girl.
In making his choice, Otto Frank had to bear several points in mind. To begin with, the book had to be kept short so that it would fit in with a series put out by the Dutch publisher. In addition, several passages dealing with Anne’s sexuality were omitted; at the time of the diary’s initial publication, in 1947, it was not customary to write openly about sex, and certainly not in books for young adults. Out of respect for the dead, Otto Frank also omitted a number of unflattering passages about his wife and the other residents of the Secret Annex. Anne Frank, who was thirteen when she began her diary and fifteen when she was forced to stop, wrote without reserve about her likes and dislikes.
When Otto Frank died in 1980, he willed his daughter’s manuscripts to the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation in Amsterdam. Because the authenticity of the diary had been challenged ever since its publication, the Institute for War Documentation ordered a thorough investigation. Once the diary was proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be genuine, it was published in its entirety, along with the results of an exhaustive study. The Critical Edition contains not only versions a, b and c, but also articles on the background of the Frank family, the circumstances surrounding their arrest and deportation, and the examination into Anne’s handwriting, the document and the materials used.
The Anne Frank—Fonds (Anne Frank Foundation) in Basel (Switzerland), which as Otto Frank’s legal heir had inherited his daughter’s copyrights, then decided to have a new, expanded edition of the diary published for general readers. This new edition in no way affects the integrity of the old one originally edited by Otto Frank, which brought the diary and its message to millions of people. The task of compiling the expanded edition was given to the writer and translator Mirjam Pressler. Otto Frank’s original selection has now been supplemented with passages from Anne’s a and b versions. Mirjam Pressler’s definitive edition, approved by the Anne Frank—Fonds, contains approximately 30 percent more material and is intended to give the reader more insight into the world of Anne Frank.
In 1998 the existence of five previously unknown pages of the diary came to light. Now, with the permission of the Anne Frank—Fonds in Basel, a long passage dated February 8, 1944, has been added to the end of the already-existing entry of that date. A short alternative to the entry of June 20, 1942, has not been included here because a more detailed version of it is already part of the diary. Furthermore, in line with recent findings, the entry of November 7, 1942, has been moved to October 30, 1943. For more information, the reader is referred to the revised Critical Edition.
In writing her second version (b), Anne invented pseudonyms for the people who would appear in her book. She initially wanted to call herself Anne Aulis, and later Anne Robin. Otto Frank opted to call his family by their own names and to follow Anne’s wishes with regard to the others. Over the years, the identity of the people who helped the families in the Secret Annex has become common knowledge. In this edition, the helpers are now referred to by their real names, as they so justly deserve to be. All other persons are named in accordance with the pseudonyms in The Critical Edition. The Institute for WarDocumentation has arbitrarily assigned initials to those persons wishing to remain anonymous.
The real names of the other people hiding in the Secret Annex are:
THE VAN PELS FAMILY
(from Osnabrück, Germany):
Auguste van Pels (born September 9, 1900)
Hermann van Pels (born March 31, 1898)
Peter van Pels (born November 8, 1926)
Called by Anne, in her manuscript: Petronella, Hans and Alfred van Daan; and in the book: Petronella, Hermann and Peter van Daan.
(born April 30, 1889, in Giessen, Germany):
Called by Anne, in her manuscript and in the book: Albert Dussel.
The reader may wish to bear in mind that much of this edition is based on the b version of Anne’s diary, which she wrote when she was around fifteen years old. Occasionally, Anne went back and commented on a passage she had written earlier. These comments are clearly marked in this edition. Naturally, Anne’s spelling and linguistic errors have been corrected. Otherwise, the text has basically been left as she wrote it, since any attempts at editing and clarification would be inappropriate in a historical document.