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The secret Anne Frank
Fifty years after The Diary Of Anne Frank was published, Anne's cousin BUDDY ELIAS speaks about the girl behind the world's best-selling non- fiction book after the Bible.
Words: Marc Lambert
On the last day of her diary. I August, 1944. Anne Frank wrote: ‘l’m what a romantic film is to a profound thinker — a mere diversion. a comic interlude. something that is soon forgotten: not bad. but not particularly good either.’
Three days later the SS discovered the secret annexe above her father’s offices in Amsterdam where she and her family had been hiding with four others for two years. Along with her sister Margot she was taken to Auschwitz and then to Bergen-Belsen where she died of typhus in April l945. a month before the camp was liberated by British soldiers. She was nearly sixteen years old.
Time has proved Anne wrong in her assessment of herself. Fifty years after its first publication. her Diary ()fA Young Girl is one of the most widely read books after the Bible. and the single best known document from the Nazi Holocaust years. It has even been made into an Oscar—winning documentary.
Now administered from Switzerland by the Anne Frank Fund. the proceeds from the Diary’s copyright go towards charitable causes. The Fund’s president. her cousin Buddy Elias. is the last person alive to have known Anne Frank personally. The 72-year-old will be coming to Edinburgh for what promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s Book Festival — an
’Anna was an ordinary girl living in extraordinary circumstances. That’s why it is wonderful to have this new edition — it shows Anna as so much more human.’ Buddy Elias
Buddy Elias (left): ‘Anne Frank was just like anybody's child'
afternoon’s reading and discussion of the Diary. chaired by poet Michael Rosen.
They won’t be short of things to discuss. To celebrate the book’s half-century. Puffin has brought out a definitive version. incorporating material that Anne’s father Otto. the Frank family’s only survivor. deemed too sensitive to publish at the time.
‘You know, Anna was very aggressive in some of
the things she wrote.’ says Elias. speaking from Basle. ‘But you must realise the situation she found herself in. Remember that in hiding she had no one to talk to. and that the adults were telling her what to do all the time. So when Otto first published. there were many deletions that he made concerning her difficult relationship with her mother. for instance. and also to her own sexuality.’
The new edition contains 30% more material. and adds to our understanding of Anne Frank not just as a victim of the Holocaust. forced to live in unnatural and claustrophobic conditions for fear of her life. but as a teenager coming to terms with the normal processes of growing up.
‘She was an ordinary girl living in extraordinary circumstances.’ explains Elias. ‘That’s why it is wonderful to have this new edition — it shows Anna as so much more human. We did not want to portray her as something she was not — you see. she was just like anybody’s child. And now with this extra material she has become more natural. with all her positive and negative sides on show. a normal person.’
Asked what his abiding memory of his cousin is Elias replies: ‘I remember the last time I saw her.’ His voice drops a tone. ‘She came to visit us on holiday. Anna was always a boisterous and fun loving girl. very strong-headed. but not a difficult person. It was hard to keep up with her. She was always planning what to do next.‘
Anne Frank Today (Book Festival) Post Office Theatre, Sat 16. 3pm. Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl is published by Puffin at £4.99.
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Anne Frank Today Anne Frank‘s cousin Buddy Elias talks about the legacy of the girl's wartime diaries. See preview, left.
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Kate Atkinson Scottish author Atkinson reads from her latest novel Human Croquet, follow-up to her Whitbread-Prize—winning book Behind The Scenes At The Museum. Post Office Theatre, 220 3990, Thu 27 Aug, 5. 70pm, £6 (£3.50).
Bernard Mac Laverty The Glasgow- based Irish writer who made his name with the brilliant Cal and Lamb reads from his first novel in fourteen years, Grace Notes. Bernard Mac Laverty (Book Festival) ESPC Studio Theatre, 220 3990, Fri 15, 5.70pm, £3.50 (£2).
15—21 Aug 1997 rue usr B7