New Anne Frank diary in novel form is ‘what she wanted’
‘From a literary point of view this version is the diamond, it is the best of them all,’ says publisher
For seven decades, the diary of Anne Frank has given the world an intimate and moving account of daily life under Nazi occupation through the eyes of a Jewish schoolgirl in hiding. But now, the actual account the teenager herself had wanted published in novel form has been released for the first time.
The book, called Liebe Kitty (or Dear Kitty, named after the imaginary friend she wrote to) is published only in Germany, Austria and Switzerland owing to copyright laws. It has been welcomed as a fascinating insight into the literary aspirations of the talented schoolgirl.
It differs subtly from the version of her diary – translated into more than 60 languages – that is so well known today, and was published after her father, Otto, merged her original diary, started when she was 13, with the more polished version she had worked on before she was captured by the Gestapo.
It has often been thought Otto Frank’s role as editor of the version he created from those two scripts and sent to publishers 75 years ago may have been unwittingly influenced by his paternal feelings. Frank had in fact been inspired to write a novel version of her diaries after hearing an announcement broadcast by the BBC in March 1944 by the exiled Dutch education minister who urged citizens to preserve documents as a lasting testimony to the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime during the occupation.
That BBC appeal encouraged Anne to pursue her literary ambitions more rigorously. So began her attempts to edit the diaries, removing tracts she felt too personal or mundane while honing her skills as a young writer.
“Her great dream was to become a famous author and journalist,” explained Maatje Mostart from Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. “The reader will read Anne Frank’s ‘novel’ with all the creative and literary choices she has made. This actually brings the reader much closer to the writer, Anne Frank.”
Joachim von Zepelin, the publisher, said: “This composition is very different in style and substance to the original. It is much more literary. The original one is at times very childish. Otto Frank was not a literary expert, he actually hid the literary qualities of his daughter. From a literary point of view this version is the diamond, it is the best of them all. It is the one that should be published because it is the one she wanted published.”
– © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)