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Anne's diary spreads her story

Chapter 6

By JOYCE APSEL

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 18, 1999


In June 1947 Contact published 1,500 copies of the diary in the first Dutch edition, Het Achterhuis Dagboekbrieven van 12 juni 1932-1 augustus 1933 (The House Behind). The diary was reissued in Dutch and by the 1950s had been translated into German, English and French. In 1995, Bantam Doubleday Dell published the "definitive edition" of the diary in English, translated by Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler, which includes 30 percent more than the original version and restores most of the material left out of earlier editions.

Anne's goal of "becoming famous" and "becoming a writer" is reality, as millions of people, especially young readers, continue to read her diary in 55 different languages throughout the world. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam yearly and tens of thousands view traveling exhibits such as "Anne Frank: A History for Today," sponsored in North America through the Anne Frank Center USA. This exhibit opens in January at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg.

Anne Frank's influence is evident worldwide. President John F. Kennedy wrote: "Of the multitude who throughout history have spoken for human dignity in times of great suffering and loss, no voice is more compelling than that of Anne Frank."

South African President Nelson Mandela recalled after his years of imprisonment for his participation in the political movement to end apartheid:

"Some of us read Anne Frank's diary on Robben Island and derived much encouragement of it."

Anne Frank's life and death and her diary remain powerful and relevant in our own time.

"The content of Anne Frank's legacy is still very much alive and it can address us fully, especially at a time when the map of the world is changing and dark passions are awakening within people," said Vaclev Havel, president of Czechoslovakia and onetime political prisoner.

Anne Frank's life and death personalize the struggle for human dignity in the face of discrimination and genocide. Her voice is part of the testimony of people recording and bearing witness. Her voice is one of 1.5-million Jewish children killed during the Nazi war against the Jews, the Holocaust. It is an enduring legacy, reminding us of the necessity to work to end discrimination, to work toward achieving human dignity and human rights for all humans despite the reality that violence and genocide exist in our own times.

"It is utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that one day will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I'll be able to realize them!


-- Anne Frank, July 15, 1944

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Next: Diary writing and the power of the individual story

Dr. Joyce Apsel is director of education at the Anne Frank Center USA in New York. Please address questions or comments about this series to: Floridian, Anne Frank and Human Rights, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail Floridian@sptimes.com.

On exhibit

Activities to do in class or at hom

1. Remember to write in your diary/journal at least three to four times each week.

2. Using the Anne Frank articles that have appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, write a poem about the life of Anne Frank.

3. From Reader's Companion to The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank, The Definitive Edition (1995, Doubleday): Almost two years after Anne Frank received her diary she wrote: 'Will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, because writing allows me to record everything, all my thoughts, ideals and fantasies.' Did Anne's diary mean something different to her after she had been in hiding? Why or why not? -- Lee Ann Yeager,

St. Petersburg Times Newspaper in Education manager

Spirit of Anne Frank Awards

The Anne Frank Center USA in New York is dedicated to educating the public, especially young people, about the causes and dangers of discrimination and violence through the story of Anne Frank.

One way the center promotes its mission is through the Spirit of Anne Frank Awards, recognizing individuals who display the courage to confront racism, prejudice and bias-related violence through participation in community organizations and programs. The awards include grants and scholarships for students and teachers who exemplify the ideals Anne Frank represents.

Recipients of the 1999 Spirit of Anne Frank Awards include: Miep Gies (Lifetime Achievement Award); Vera List (Lifetime Humanitarian Award for Philanthropic Service); Linda Ellerbee (Outstanding Community Leader in the Field of Journalism/Media); and Tony Randall (Outstanding Community Leader in the Field of Arts and Education).

This year's awards will be presented Nov. 15 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. For information, call (800) 246-3381 or e-mail afc@annefrank.com.

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