© New York DailyNews, September 20, 1998
"... he charged that the Basel-based Anne Frank Fund has been "hoarding money -- millions -- in Switzerland."
New York Daily News, September 20, 1998
"It's easy to see why Otto Frank was anxious to keep the pages from public view. They offer the harshest take yet seen by Anne on her parents' marriage."
Journal of Frank diary continues to be written
Competing institutes locked in legal tussle
Few books have the power to generate controversy half a century after they are published. "The Diary of Anne Frank" does.
The famed diary of the Jewish teenager forced to hide from the Nazis with her family in a cramped Amsterdam attic during the Holocaust -- only to be betrayed and die in a concentration camp -- has been an international best-seller, required reading in schools worldwide and the inspiration for various books, plays and movies since its original publication in 1947.
Anne Frank had long been a touchstone of purity and innocence, her image held up as an innocent celebrating the human spirit. But as the diary has been buffeted by growing controversies over the years, her image has changed dramatically. She's seen now more as a complex adolescent, willing to take a hard -- often critical -- look at love, sex and the failings of her family.
And her only work, the diary, is now at the center of the ugliest disputes yet. Five never-before-published pages from the diary have emerged. They have set off a round of international accusations of withheld royalties and threats of lawsuits between competing Anne Frank institutes.
The man who says he got the new pages from Anne's father, Otto Frank, shortly before Frank's death in 1980, reportedly had planned to auction off the pages at an event at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington but canceled because of the growing legal disputes.
A Dutch newspaper, Het Parool in Amsterdam, is facing threats of a suit from the Swiss-based Anne Frank Fund, which holds the copyright on the diary, after the paper published the text of three of the new pages.
And a new book, "Anne Frank," by Austrian biographer Melissa Müller, identifies a new player in the drama -- a cleaning lady in the building where Anne and her family hid -- as the informant who betrayed them to the Nazis.
Those missing five pages were originally to have appeared in the Müller biography.
Meanwhile, Doubleday, the New York-based publishing house that put out a supposedly definitive edition of the book nearly a decade ago, is eager to release yet another authorized edition but can't because of the transatlantic fight over the new pages.
At the center of the latest war over the diary is Cor Suijk, 74, who's affiliated with the Anne Frank Center USA. Suijk was unavailable for comment. He reportedly received the diary pages from Otto Frank, who asked him not to publish them until after Frank and his second wife had died. The wife is still alive, but her daughter authorized Sujik -- a friend and confidant of Otto Frank -- to publish them.
IT'S EASY to see why Otto Frank was anxious to keep the pages from public view. They offer the harshest take yet seen by Anne on her parents' marriage.
"Father is not in love," Anne writes. "He kisses (her mother) as he kisses us. She loves him as she loves no other and it is difficult to see this kind of love always unanswered."
Frank had withheld other sensitive pages on sex and family tensions that had made their way to publication a decade ago in what was considered the definitive version.
It was Sujik who released the pages to the Dutch newspaper, and in giving them over he charged that the Basel-based Anne Frank Fund has been "hoarding money -- millions -- in Switzerland."
"It should be put to a better purpose" than to be stashed away in a Swiss bank, Sujik said.
A spokesman for the Swiss group said the organization spends millions in the United States every year, but declined to name the U.S. groups it funded. (To compound the confusion, there is a third organization, the Anne Frank Foundation in Holland, which manages the Amsterdam house where the Franks hid.)
Müller's book has already generated headlines of its own with its revelations of a new identity for the Franks' betrayer. Sujik had been contacted by Müller while she was working on the new book, and he showed her the pages because he felt she was sensitive to all the issues revolving around the diary.
But Elizabeth Riley, a spokesman for Metropolitan Books, noted that the legal battles between Sujik and the Swiss Anne Frank Fund made it impossible to use the pages in her biography.
Anne has never been a stranger to controversy.
When a dramatization of her book, "The Diary of Anne Frank," opened on Broadway in 1955, novelist Meyer Levin -- who had been instrumental in getting the diary published in the US in the first place -- charged that the play version by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett made the inhabitants of the secret annex too bland and failed to identify them strongly enough as Jews.
Levin was angry because Otto Frank had assured him that he would support the dramatization Levin had written which stressed the Jewishness of the Franks and their friends. Levin wrote about his anger, disappointment and long, futile court battle in his aptly titled nonfiction work "Obsession."
A YEAR AGO, when a revised version of the play was about to open on Broadway, controversy again raged.
The distinguished novelist Cynthia Ozick wrote about the ways in which the diary had been misused over the years. She noted, for example, that in the German version there were no references to exactly why Anne and her family had to go into hiding.
After surveying all the distortions to which the book had been subjected, Ozick regretted that the book had ever been published.
Why does the diary continue to generate such heat?
It may stem from the character of Anne Frank herself, suggests Thane Rosenbaum, author of the novel "Elijah Visible" and the literary editor of Tikkun, a magazine devoted to contemporary Jewish issues.
He likens readers' first exposure to Anne's tragic story as a loss of "virginity" of sorts, a forced look at horror.
"She is invariably our first encounter with atrocity," he observed, "our first encounter with the Holocaust."
But the true Anne -- a middle-class, assimilated Jewish girl hidden from the emerging horror of the camps until she disappeared into them -- "may not have been the right girl" to carry such weighty historical and emotional baggage.
"She has become this incredibly saintlike figure," he said, adding that now, there's a sense that she was too much of a diluted, assimilated figure to convey the emotional complexity, the full horror of the Holocaust."