Anne Frank and Hitler

February 14, 2006

Like the government of Iran, The Arab-European League has launched a cartoon counter-offensive in the wake of the furore over the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

This is one of them:


It seems unnecessary to comment, really, except to say one can only hope it will be widely viewed the world over. Get it out in the open, as Monty Python used to say.

I read Anne Frank’s Diary for the first time when I was very young, and several times subsequently. It was the version edited by her father, Otto, who had survived the war, and omitted some material about the family and Anne’s own experiences of growing into adolescence.

A full edition was published in 1986 by the lugubriously-named Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation, complete with an analysis of Anne’s handwriting, not least to refute persistent allegations from neo-Nazi groups that the diary was a fake.

A few years ago, I visisted the house in Amsterdam where she and her family were concealed from the Nazis, to whom they were eventually betrayed. It has been preserved almost exactly as it was at the end of the war. It was still powerfully haunted by the presence of the young Jewish girl whose face and words — and whose fate — the world had come to know so well.


Anne Frank died of typhus in the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, towards the end of the northern winter of 1944-5, at the age of 15. The previous spring, she wrote in her diary:

I want to live on,
even after death.

It may be that here, today, so long after she died, in the new, indifferent century, Anne Frank is being put to death at last.

It is necessary, after all, to comment on the cartoon. It is grotesque and obscene. For all that — because of that — it should not be banned.


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