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Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives, and invite open debate.

Alasdair Sparks contributes his two ha'porth, September 12, 2005, on Anne Frank's controversial use of ballpoint pens in writing her diary


Ballpoint pens and Anne Frank (2)

I AM one of those who has emailed you several times about ballpoint pens and the Anne Frank Diaries, but you never took note, nor amended your website.

As the matter has arisen again, and in the hope that you might do so, I point you to some links which make it clear it is not an issue.

From "The Straight Dope":

"In 1980 the German criminal investigation bureau [BKA] fanned the embers of the controversy by issuing a report that made an eyebrow-raising claim: While the paper used in the diary appeared authentic, some corrections to Anne's rewritten version had been made using a ballpoint pen supposedly not available till 1951. (For the record, ballpoint pens were popular in Britain as early as the late 30s.) The German magazine Der Spiegel published a sensational account of this report alleging that (a) some editing postdated 1951; (b) an earlier expert had held that all the writing in the journal was by the same hand; and thus (c) the entire diary was possibly fake. This logic is faulty, in no small part because premise (b) is wrong--it's now known some page numbering and other minor edits were done after the war, probably by Otto [Frank] or his assistants."

The "BBC website" [sic: but see response below!] says the following:

"Deniers also make the claim that the diary is in green ballpoint pen, something that was not readily available during the war. And there are, in fact, some minor stylistic marginal notes in green ink. However, as the Dutch investigation demonstrated, the only ballpoint writing is on two scraps of paper included among the loose leaves, and these have no significance whatsoever in terms of content. Moreover, the handwriting on the scraps of paper differs markedly from those in the diary, indicating that they were written by someone else, an editor perhaps."

Finally, the website of the Anne Frank Museum makes matters clear:

"In August 1980 Otto Frank died. His daughter's manuscripts were left to the Dutch State, which deposited the documents with the Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, or NIOD). Otto Frank appointed as his heir the Anne Frank Fund in Basel, which therefore also inherited the copyright of the book. The NIOD decided to publish the complete diaries of Anne Frank in an annotated version, in part as an answer to the continuing attacks on the book's authenticity.
"The "Gerechtelijk Laboratorium" (State Forensic Science Laboratory) in Rijswijk was asked to conduct an extensive examination of the manuscript with regard to her handwriting and other technical aspects. The BKA was invited by the "Gerechtelijk Laboratorium" to indicate where on the loose-leaf pages they had found the ballpoint ink.
"The BKA was unable to point out a single alleged correction in ballpoint ink. The court in Hamburg had decided to wait for the results of the RIOD investigation. In 1986 the complete diaries of Anne Frank and the positive results of the laboratory research were published under the title "De dagboeken van Anne Frank" (The diaries of Anne Frank).
"The German translation of 1988 was used as evidence by the court in Hamburg. After all these years, the case was resumed in 1990. At his appeal, Geiss was now sentenced to a 6000-DM fine. Römer had died by then. Geiss's defense appealed in 1991 for a review of the conviction based on the fact that the statute of limitations on the offence had lapsed. On March 19, 1993 the verdict was indeed set aside because of the time lapse and the case came to a definitive end."

You may not accept any of this, but please stop portraying it all as some great mystery to gullible readers. It is not. I give you permission to publish this, but not my email address.

Alasdair Spark
(who asks for his address to be withheld)


Douglas Rodger knows something about the date that ballpoint pens came into general use | a reader looks at Anne's curiously varied handwriting

IrvingDavid Irving replies:

THOSE are all points, but of limited validity. The Dutch investigastion (your third quotation) is the only one to carry weight: you fudge over the fact that "the BBC Website" which you quote is not an investigation by the BBC but an article by that well known and entirely impartial, ahem, writer Deborah Lipstadt!

Unlike her I have no axe to grind on either side, but might I ask: What is the significance of ballpoint pens being "available" in Britain in the 1930s? (They were not). So far as I know Anne did not visit our country, and even when first available after the war the "Biros" were clumsy, messy, and hideously expensive.

There is a broader point: There are as you know two branches of the Anne Frank industry, one in Basel, Switzerland, where Anne's father Otto Frank took up his lucrative and luxurious residence, and one in Amsterdam, Holland, where the "little house" was. Both CEOs reacted with guilt to the fact, discovered by the German police authorities and since emphasised by the "deniers", that parts of the Anne Frank oeuvre were found to have been penned in ballpoint ink.

In fact in correspondence with me, which can be seen at the Munich based Institut für Zeitgeschichte in the Sammlung Irving, Otto Frank flatly refused to allow any forensic expert to examine or test the pages of the diary which were in his possession, when I politely suggested that this would be the perfect way of confounding the deniers and right wing extremists. He rather foolishly took to suing for libel those who suggested there was anything odd about the diary -- an action he could never have taken under English law -- and usually prevailed until the time came when he took on one Ernst Römer, in northern Germany; Römer fought back and obtained a court order for the examination of the diaries.

Otto had meanwhile, perhaps even more foolishly, paid a graphologist who attested under oath that all the handwriting in the manuscripts was that of one person. Oops! He refused to allow the diaries out of Switzerland; the court then sent in the German "FBI" , the Bundeskriminalamt, with a mobile testing kit, with the result that the hilarious ballpoint-ink discrepancy was found.

It is not important of itself, but Otto's guilt-stricken behaviour is. We now know that there were three different versions of Anne's handiwork -- a "diary", a rewritten "diary", and a novel she based on the diary. None has the slightest significance for WW2 historians.

Otto Frank is known to have destroyed, or hidden away, many pages of the original wartime documents (including those that were personally offensive to him), so the fact that only two pages now survive with ballpoint ink, and none of those originally identified by the Bundeskriminalamt, does not surprise.

As Professor Robert Faurisson has convincingly displayed, the handwriting is curiously different from postcards known (or claimed by the A.F. industry) to have been written by Anne.

More important than any of these things is the fact that the much-exploited tragedy of the Frank family confirms what the "deniers": have always said: that there was NO global Hitler plan to exterminate all the Jews; that the German doctors (SS) at the Auschwitz site hospital successfully did what they could to save the wretched Otto when he fell ill with typhus, and that it was typhus that carried away Anne and her sister Margot, and not some "gas chamber"; and that although all three, Otto, Anne and her sister Margot were in Auschwitz, supposedly the camp where all Jews not fit for slave labor were exterminated, all survived Auschwitz and died elsewhere.


Our dossier on the Anne Frank diaries
Douglas Rodger knows something about the date that ballpoint pens came into general use
Anne Frank Stichting The denial of the authenticity of the diary


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