Anne Frank: Portrait of an icon as a young woman
Should we all keep a diary? An important part of Anne Frank’s writing is that she captures so much of what it is to be a teenager, even with secret pages musing on puberty and prostitutes.
Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl is one of the world’s most loved books. Describing the 25 months her family spent hiding from the Nazis, it is a universal story of hope.
Yet for many years, the diary also hid a fascinating secret.
Using hi-tech photography, researchers have found a section that 13-year-old Anne had carefully hidden with brown paper and glue.
Dated 28 September 1942, the hidden diary entry begins: “I’ll use this spoiled page to write down ‘dirty’ jokes.”
One describes a husband discovering a naked man hiding in the wardrobe of his marital bedroom: “Believe it or not, I’m waiting for the tram,” says the man. Another goes: “Do you know why the German Wehrmacht girls are in Holland? As mattresses for the soldiers.”
The passage also contains Anne’s thoughts on sex education, prostitution and periods.
“The ‘dirty’ jokes are classics among growing children,” claims historian Frank van Vree. So, “Anne, with all her gifts, was […] also an ordinary girl.”
And today, like Anne, many ordinary teenage girls write diaries. One survey found that 83% of girls aged 16 to 19 keep a diary. The number drops as people get older, and fewer men keep a diary at all.
But diary writing is good for your health. Research suggests it can help fight anxiety and depression; sharpen memory skills, and can even boost your immune system.
Should we all keep a diary?
Anne Frank can inspire us all, some argue. Writing about the world helps you notice so much more, making daily life even richer. What’s more, when we constantly share on social media, it’s good to write something private.
Diaries are not the only way, others respond. Vlogging is like journal writing, with visuals. But should we question the benefit of recording our lives at all. Maybe forgetting, and letting go of past events is also healthy.
- Do you keep a diary? Why or why not?
- In the spirit of Anne Frank, take 10 minutes to write a diary entry about your day so far. How did it make you feel to write about it? Do you think you could keep it up every day?
Some People Say...
“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”Anne Frank
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- The jokes aren’t the only references to sexual themes in her diary. Elsewhere, she writes about her periods, and conversations with others about sex and sexuality. The book’s first publisher advised her father Otto Frank to leave out many of these sections, so as not to offend readers. These passages were included in later editions.
- What do we not know?
- If it was right to reveal the content of the pages, given that it was specifically covered up by the young author. The Anne Frank Museum said that the pages “bring us even closer to the girl and the writer Anne Frank”.
- The family hid in a sealed-off annex in Amsterdam — the entrance concealed behind a bookcase. They were discovered in August 1944. Anne subsequently died of typhus while being held in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Her father survived the war and later got her diaries published.
- Researchers used a high-resolution camera to photograph the pages which were illuminated with a bright light. Computer software then deciphered the faint text.
- To do with marriage or a married couple.
- Transport that runs on tracks on streets.
- German armed forces during World War Two.
- On prostitution she wrote: “In Paris, they have big houses for that. Papa has been there.”
- Conducted by Otherlines.TV on behalf of E4.
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- Immune system
- The body’s defense against disease and illness.