Research & Teaching

The diaries of Anne Frank

Researcher: Prof. Dr. Raphael Gross, Prof. Dr. Martin van Gelderen

Funding: Anne Frank Fund and the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media

From the perspective of German-Jewish history, what was the broader cultural and political context like in the 1940s when the diaries were written? What role models did Anne Frank hold up when writing the text and what cultural references did she create? What were the political conditions of the Jewish population in Nazi-occupied Netherlands like? And in Germany and other neighbouring countries? The project will also look at how the diaries were received in the context of German and/or European-Jewish post-war history. What metamorphoses did the story of Anne Frank undergo as a result of the many post-editing rounds it was subject to? What contexts did this create for the diaries and what was the basis for the interest the book received? Ultimately, how did the figure of a teenager in Nazi times become an international symbol of a better world – a symbol that obscures the view of the real person and is frequently regarded with a degree of kitsch?

The two »original versions« of the diary (Anne’s original diary entries between 1942 and 1944, and her own edited version for potential subsequent publication) are being combined into a newly introduced edition containing annotations, to be published in Dutch. This new edition is based on a comparison of handwritten manuscripts by Anne Frank with current existing transcriptions. This critical Dutch edition is the basis for the translations into English and German. The findings of the research project will also be published in a second volume. This volume will place the diary in the context of the biography of Anne Frank and her family; it will also shed light on how the diary was received over the course of time and on the reflections it has generated, as well as examining the work from gender-critical perspectives.