The Diary of a Young Girl is a book based on the extracts from a diary written by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands. The family was apprehended in 1944 and Anne Frank ultimately died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. After the war, the diary was retrieved by Anne's father, Otto Frank.
First published under the title Het Achterhuis: Dagboekbrieven van 12 Juni 1942 – 1 Augustus 1944 (The Annex: diary notes from 12 June 1942 – 1 August 1944) by Contact Publishing in Amsterdam in 1947, it received widespread critical and popular attention on the appearance of its English language translation Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Doubleday & Company (United States) and Vallentine Mitchell (United Kingdom) in 1952. Its popularity inspired the 1955 play The Diary of Anne Frank by the screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, which they subsequently adapted for the screen for the 1959 movie version. In 2005, a full-length choral work based on the diary called Annelies was produced. The book is now considered one of the key texts of the twentieth century.
In manuscript, Anne's original diaries are written over three extant volumes. The first covers the period between June 12, 1942 and December 5, 1942 but since the second volume begins on December 22, 1943 and ends on April 17, 1944 we can assume that the original volume or volumes between December 1942 and December 1943 were lost - presumably after the arrest when the hiding place was emptied on Nazi instructions. However, this missing period is covered in the version Anne rewrote for preservation. The third existing notebook contains entries from April 17, 1944 to August 1, 1944, when Anne wrote for the last time before her arrest.
In the original notebook her diary entries follow a standard for the first three months until September 28, 1942 when she began addressing her entries to characters from Cissy van Marxveldt's Joop ter Heul novels. In van Marxveldt's books the headstrong Joop also keeps a diary and writes to her group of friends about her calamities and loves. Anne adopted the group and addressed her diary entries to Joop's friends 'Kitty', 'Conny', 'Emmy', 'Pop', and 'Marianne' until November of that year, when the first notebook ends. By the time she started the second existing volume, there was only one imaginary friend she was writing to: Kitty, and in her later re-writes, Anne changed the address of all the diary entries to "Kitty".
There has been much conjecture about the identity or inspiration of Kitty, who in Anne's revised manuscript is the sole recipient of her letters. In 1986 the critic Sietse van der Hoek wrote that the name referred to Kitty Egyedi, a prewar friend of Frank's. Van der Hoek may have been informed by the 1970 publication 'A Tribute to Anne Frank', prepared by the Anne Frank Foundation, which assumed a factual basis for the character in its preface by the then chairman of the Foundation, Henri van Praag, and accentuated this with the inclusion of a group photograph that singles out Anne, Sanne Ledermann, Hanneli Goslar, and Kitty Egyedi. Anne does not mention Kitty Egyedi in any of her writings (in fact, the only other girl mentioned in her diary from the often reproduced photo, other than Goslar and Ledermann, is Mary Bos, whose drawings Anne dreamed about in 1944) and the only comparable example of Anne writing unposted letters to a real friend are two farewell letters to Jacqueline van Maarsen from September 1942.
Theodor Holman wrote in reply to Sietse van der Hoek that the diary entry for September 28, 1942 proved conclusively the character's fictional origin. Jacqueline van Maarsen agreed but Otto Frank assumed his daughter had her real acquaintance in mind when she wrote to someone of the same name. However, Kitty Egyedi said in an interview that she was flattered by the assumption but doubted the diary was addressed to her:
Anne had expressed the desire in the re-written introduction of her diary for one person that she could call her truest friend, that is, a person to whom she could confide her deepest thoughts and feelings. She observed that she had many "friends", and equally many admirers, but (by her own definition) no true, dear friend with whom she could share her innermost thoughts. She originally thought her girlfriend Jacque van Maarsen would be this person, but that was only partially successful. In an early diary passage, she remarks that she is not in love with Helmut "Hello" Silberberg, her suitor at that time, but considered that he might become a true friend. In hiding, she invested much time and effort into her budding romance with Peter van Pels, thinking he might evolve into that one, true friend, but that was eventually a disappointment to her in some ways, also, though she still cared for him very much. Ultimately, the closest friend Anne had during her tragically short life was her diary, "Kitty", for it was only to "Kitty" that she entrusted her innermost thoughts.
Frank's already budding literary ambitions were galvanized on March 29, 1944 when she heard a broadcast made by the exiled Dutch Minister for Education, Art and Science, Gerrit Bolkestein, calling for the preservation of "ordinary documents—a diary, letters ... simple everyday material" to create an archive for posterity as testimony to the suffering of civilians during the Nazi occupation, and on May 20 notes that she has started re-drafting her diary with future readers in mind. She expanded entries and standardized them by addressing all of them to Kitty, clarified situations, prepared a list of pseudonyms and cut scenes she thought of little interest or too intimate for general consumption. This manuscript, written on loose sheets of paper, was retrieved from the hiding place after the arrest and given to Otto Frank with the original notebooks when his daughter's death was confirmed in the autumn of 1945. Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl had rescued them along with other personal possessions after the family's arrest and before their rooms were ransacked by the Dutch police and the Gestapo.
When Otto Frank eventually began to read his daughter's diary, he was astonished. He said to Miep Gies, "I never knew my little Anne was so deep." He also remarked that the clarity with which Anne had described many everyday situations brought those since-forgotten moments back to him vividly.
This caught the interest of Contact Publishing in Amsterdam, who approached Otto Frank to submit a draft of the manuscript for their consideration. They offered to publish but advised Otto Frank that Anne's candor about her emerging sexuality might offend certain conservative quarters and suggested cuts. Further entries were deleted before the book was published on June 25, 1947. It sold well; the 3000 copies of the first edition were soon sold out, and in 1950 a sixth edition was published.
At the end of 1950, a translator was found to produce an English-language version. Barbara Mooyaart-Doubleday was contracted by Vallentine, Mitchell & Co. in England and by the end of the following year her translation was submitted, now including the deleted passages at Otto Frank's request and the book appeared in America and Great Britain 1952. It became a bestseller. Translations into German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and Greek followed. The play based on the diary won the Pulitzer Prize for 1955, and the subsequent movie earned Shelley Winters an Academy Award for her performance, whereupon Winters donated her Oscar to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
Simon Wiesenthal's encounter with deniers distributing pamphlets calling the diary a 'fake' propelled him into investigating the arrest of the Frank family, with the dual purpose of bringing to justice the betrayer and thus proving the diary's historic legitimacy. The investigation ended in 1963 when he located Karl Silberbauer, the officer who arrested the Frank family in their hiding place. Although he could shed little light on the identity of their betrayer, Silberbauer remembered the incident and provided a detail which contradicted the contemporary Nazis who alleged the diary was a post-war invention; during the arrest he saw Anne Frank's diaries and manuscripts as he emptied them from a briefcase used to remove items stolen from the prisoners.
In the light of this testimony, Holocaust deniers began to shift their focus away from denying the existence of Anne Frank to casting doubt on the authenticity of the published version of her diary, alleging paradoxically that she was not the author of the book, and that the published version was not representative of what was written in the original notebooks.
Otto Frank had stated in interviews that he cut many passages from the manuscript that he thought would be of little interest to the general reader before the book's original publication and that he had assigned pseudonyms to protect the identities of those Anne Frank had mentioned by name. Holocaust deniers suggested this was proof the published version was not an accurate transcription of the manuscripts, and even that this suggested the work had been written wholly or partly by Otto Frank or one of his associates.
Although he took successful legal actions for the remainder of his life to protect the memory of his daughter, it was only after Otto Frank's death in 1980 and the publication of Anne Frank's unabridged diaries that the debate could finally be put to rest. In his will, Otto Frank bequeathed his daughter's manuscripts to the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, who commissioned a forensic study to determine when the manuscripts had been prepared, and by whom. The glue, paper and other materials used in the original notebooks as well as the ink and handwriting found within them and the loose version were extensively examined and in 1986 the results were published. The handwriting was found to be consistent with known examples of Anne Frank's handwriting, and the paper, ink and glue found in the diaries and loose papers were consistent with materials available in Amsterdam during the period in which the diary was written.
The survey of her manuscripts showed in comparison an unabridged transcription of Anne Frank's original notebooks, the entries she expanded and clarified on loose paper in a rewritten form, and the final edit as it was prepared for the U.S publication. The investigation revealed that all of the entries in the originally published version were accurate transcriptions of manuscript entries in Anne Frank's handwriting, and that they represented approximately a third of the material collected for the initial publication. A comparison can made with the editorial histories of the diaries of Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and Anaïs Nin. All three writers revised their diaries after the initial draft, and the material was posthumously edited into a publishable manuscript by their respective husbands.