The previously mentioned book by Schnabel (Anne Frank: A Portrait in Courage) has some curious omissions, while the long article, unsigned, that Der Spiegel (1 April 1959, pages 51-55) devoted to the diary, in the wake of the Stielau case, brings us some curious revelations. The title of that article is eloquent: "Anne Frank. Was Schrieb das Kind?" ("Anne Frank. What did the Child Write?")
Ernst Schnabel openly defended Anne Frank and Otto Frank. His book is relatively rich on all that precedes and on all that follows the twenty-five months of their life at Prinsengracht. On the other hand, it is very poor concerning those twenty-five months. One would say that the direct witnesses (Miep, Elli, Kraler, Koophuis, Henk) have nothing to say on that very important period. Why do they remain silent in that way? Why have they said only some commonplace things like: "When we had our plate of soup upstairs with them at noon " (page 114)1 or: "We always had lunch together " (page 117)? Not one concrete detail, not one description, not one anecdote is there that by its preciseness would give the impression that the persons in hiding and their faithful friends regularly ate together this way at noon. Everything appears in a kind of fog. But those witnesses were questioned only thirteen years, at the most, after the arrest of the Franks, and certain of them such as Elli, Miep and Henk, were still young. Not to mention the numerous other persons whom Schnabel wrongly calls "witnesses" but who, in fact, had never known or even met the Franks. This is the case, for example, with the famous "greengrocer" (Gemüsemann). "He did not know the Franks at all" (page 82). In a general way, the impression that one derives from reading Schnabel's book is the following: this Anne Frank had really existed; she had been a little girl without great character, without strong personality, without scholarly precociousness (to the contrary even), and no one suspected her of having an aptitude for writing; that unfortunate child knew the horrors of war; she had been arrested by the Germans; she had been interned, then deported; she passed through the camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau; she had been separated from her father; her mother died in the hospital at Birkenau on 6 January 1945; in approximately October of 1944 she and her sister were transferred to the camp at Bergen-Belsen; Margot died of typhus; then, in her turn, Anne, alone in the world, was also to die of typhus in March of 1945. These are some points about which the witnesses did not hesitate to talk. But with all of them one senses mistrust in the presence of the legendary Anne, who was capable of taking up the pen as we have been told, capable of keeping that diary and writing those stories, and writing "the beginning of a novel," etc. Schnabel himself writes a very revealing sentence when he declares: "My witnesses had a good deal to say about Anne as a person; they took account of the legend only with great reticence, or by tacitly ignoring it. Although they did not take issue with it by so much as a word, I had the impression that they were checking themselves. All of them read Anne's diary; they did not mention it (pages 4-5)." That last sentence is important "All of them had read Anne's diary; they did not mention it." Even Kraler, who sent a long letter to Schnabel from Toronto, did not make mention either of the Diary or of Anne's other writings (page 87). Kraler is the only direct witness to tell an anecdote or two about Anne; but, in a very curious way, he places these anecdotes in the period of time when the Franks still lived in their apartment on Merwedeplein, before their "disappearance" ("before they went into hiding," page 87). It is only in the corrected edition that the second anecdote is placed at Prinsengracht, even "when they were in the secret annex" (page 88). The witnesses did not wish that their names be published. The two most important witnesses (the "probable betrayer" and the Austrian policeman) were neither questioned nor even sought out. Schnabel attempts on several occasions to explain that curious failure (pages 8, 139, and all of the end of chapter ten). He goes so far as to present a sort of defense of the arresting officer! One person nevertheless does mention the Diary, but that is to draw attention to a point in it which seems bizarre to her concerning the Montessori school of which she was the director (page 40). Schnabel himself treats the Diary strangely. How to explain, indeed, the cutting that he does when he cites a passage such as that of his page 123? Quoting a long passage from the letter of 11 April 1944 in which Anne tells about the police raid in the wake of the burglary, he leaves out the sentence in which Anne gives the main reason for her distress; that reason was that the police, it appeared, went so far as to give the "swinging cupboard" some loud blows. ("This, and when the police rattled the cupboard door, were my worst moments.") Wouldn't Schnabel have thought, like any sensible man, that that passage is absurd? In any case, he tells us that he visited 263 Prinsengracht before its transformation into a museum. He did not see any "swinging cupboard" there. He writes: "The cupboard that was built against the door to disguise it has been pulled down. Nothing is left but the twisted hinges hanging beside the door." (page 74) He did not find any trace of a special camouflage, but only, in Anne's room, a yellowed piece of curtain "A tattered, yellowed remnant of curtain still hangs at the window." (page 75). Mr. Frank, it seems, marked in pencil on the wall paper, near one door, the successive heights of his daughters. Today, at the museum, the visitors can see an impeccable square of wall paper, placed under glass, where they notice the perfectly preserved pencil marks which appear to have been drawn the same day. They tell us that these pencil marks indicated the heights of Mr. Frank's children. During the interview with Mr. Frank at Birsfelden, Faurisson asked him if it was not a question there of a "reconstruction." He assured Faurisson that all was authentic. But this is difficult to believe. Schnabel himself had simply seen, as a mark, an "A 42" which he interpreted thus: "Anne 1942." What is strange is that the "authentic" paper in the museum does not bear anything such as that Schnabel said that he had seen, only that mark and that the others had been destroyed or torn off ("the other marks have been stripped off " [ibidem].) Might Mr. Frank have made himself guilty here of a trick (ein Trick), such as that which he had suggested to Henk and to Miep for the photocopy of their passport?
A very interesting point about Anne's story concerns the manuscripts. It is very unlikely the account of the discovery of those many scripts, then their passing on to Mr. Frank by his secretary Miep. The police supposedly scattered the floor with all sorts of papers. Among those papers, Miep and Elli supposedly gathered up a "Scotch notebook" (ein rotkariertes Buch; a red plaid book) and many other writings in which they are supposed to have recognized Anne's writing. They supposedly did not read anything. They are supposed to have put all these papers aside in the large office. Then, those papers supposedly were handed over to Mr. Frank at the time of his return from Poland (pages 179-181.) That account does not agree at all with the account of the arrest. The arrest was made slowly, methodically, correctly, exactly like the search. The testimonies are unanimous on that point (see chapter nine). After the arrest, the police came back to the premises on several occasions; they especially interrogated Miep. The police wished to know if the Franks were in contact with other persons in hiding. The Diary, such as we know it, would have revealed, at first glance, a great deal of information valuable to the police, and would have been terribly compromising for Miep, Elli, and for all the friends of the persons in hiding. The police could have disregarded the "Scotch notebook" if, in its original condition, it consisted, as I think, only of some drawings, some photographs or notes of a harmless nature. But it would appear unlikely that they would have left there several notebooks and several hundreds of scattered pages, on which the handwriting was, at least in appearance, that of an adult. On the part of Elli and Miep, it would have been madness to gather together and to keep, especially in the office, such a mass of compromising documents. It would appear that they knew that Anne kept a diary. In a diary one is supposed to tell what happens from day to day. Consequently, Anne risked mentioning Miep and Elli in them.
Of the book by Schnabel, the Dutch can only read the five last chapters of "Her Last Months" (out of thirteen chapters in all). Moreover, three of those five chapters have undergone cuts of all sorts. Certain of those cuts are marked by ellipses. Others are not marked at all. The chapters thus cut up are Chapters Nine, Ten and Thirteen — which is to say those that concern, on the one hand, the arrest and its direct results (in the Netherlands) and, on the other hand, the history of the manuscripts. When it is no longer a question of those subjects, when it is a question of the camps (which is the case in Chapters Eleven and Twelve), the original text by Schnabel is respected. Examined closely, those cuts seem to have been introduced to remove the somewhat precise details which appear in the testimonies of Koophuis, Miep, Henk, and Elli. For example, it lacks, without anything to indicate to us the existence of a cut, the essential passage where Elli tells how she told her father about the arrest of the Franks (the 13 lines of page 115 of Spur are completely absent from page 272 of Haar Laatste Levensmaanden). It is odd that the only nation for whom they have thus reserved a censored version of the life of Anne Frank is precisely that one where the adventure of Anne Frank took place. Can you imagine some revelations about Joan of Arc that would be made to all sorts of foreign nations, but would be forbidden in some way to the French people?
Between the original form of the book (the manuscripts) and its printed form (the Dutch edition from Contact in 1947), the text has known at least five forms in succession.
1. Between the end of May 1945 and October 1945, Mr. Frank had drawn up a sort of copy (Abschrift) from the manuscripts, in part alone, in part with the help of his secretary Isa Cauvern (the wife of Albert Cauvern, a friend of Mr. Frank; before the war, the Cauverns had welcomed the Frank children to their home for vacations).
2. From October 1945 to January 1946, Mr. Frank and Isa Cauvern worked together on a new version of the copy, a typed version (Neufassung der Abschrift/Maschinengeschriebene Zweitfassung).
3. At an unspecified date (the end of the winter of 1945-1946), that second version (typed) was submitted to Albert Cauvern; insofar as he was a radio man — an announcer with the "De Vara" radio network in Hilversum — he knew about rewriting manuscripts. According to his own words, he began by "tolerably changing" that version; he drew up his own text as a "man of experience" (Albert Cauvern stellt heute nicht in Abrede, dass er jene maschinengeschriebene Zweitfassung mit kundiger Hand redigiert hat: "Am Anfang habe ich ziemlich viel geändert," page 52.) A detail that is surprising for a diary: he does not fear to regroup under a single date some letters written on different dates; on a second occasion he limited himself to correcting the punctuation as well as mistakes of phrasing and grammar; all those changes and corrections were carried out on the typed text; Albert Cauvern never saw the original manuscripts.
4. From the changes and corrections, Mr. Frank drew up what one can call the third typed text in the spring of 1946; he submitted the result to "three prominent experts" (drei prominente Gutachter, page 53), while letting them believe that it was a question of the complete reproduction of a manuscript, with the very understandable exception of some personal points of order; then, those three persons having apparently given their guarantee to the text, Mr. Frank went on to offer it to several publishing houses in Amsterdam which refused it; turning then, in all probability, to one of those three persons, Mrs. Anna Romein-Verschoor. He got the latter's husband, Mr. Jan Romein, Professor of History of the Netherlands at the University of Amsterdam, to write in the daily newspaper Het Parool a famous article which began with these words: "There has by chance fallen into my hands a diary (etc.)". Because the article was very laudatory, a modest Amsterdam publishing house (Contact) asked to publish that diary.
5. With the agreement once concluded or in the process of being concluded, Mr. Frank went to find several "spiritual counselors" (mehrere geistliche Ratgeber), one of whom was Pastor Buskes; he granted them full authority to censor the text (raumte ihnen freiwillig Zensoren-Befugnisse ein, pages 53-54). And that censorship was carried out.
But the oddities do not end there. The German text of the Diary forms the subject of interesting remarks on the part of the journalist from Der Spiegel. He writes: "One curiosity of the 'Anne Frank literature' is the translation work of Anneliese Schütz, of which Schnabel said: 'I would wish that all translations were so faithful,' but whose text very often diverges from the Dutch original" (page 54). In fact, ("Comparing the Dutch and German texts" on page 100), the journalist is quite lenient in his criticism when he says that the German text diverges very often from what he calls the original (that is to say, without doubt, from the original printed by the Dutch). The printed German text does not have the right to be called a translation from the printed Dutch: it constitutes, another book by itself.
Anneliese Schütz, a great friend of the Franks, like them a Jewish German refugee in the Netherlands, and Anne's teacher, therefore prepared a text, in German, of the diary of her former pupil. She settled down to that work for Anne's grandmother! The latter, very aged, did not in fact read Dutch. She therefore needed a translation into German, the Franks' mother tongue. Anneliese Schütz composed her "translation" "in the perspective of the grandmother" (aus der Grossmutter-Perspektive, page 55). She took some amazing liberties. Where, according to her recollections, Anne had expressed herself better, she made her express herself better! The grandmother had the right to that! Let it be said in passing that Anneliese Schütz is never mentioned by Anne Frank in the Diary. Are we to understand that she had lived close to Anne or that she had met her during the twenty-five months when she hid at the Prinsengracht? To the "perspective of the grandmother," which dictated certain "obligations," there was added what one can call the "commercial perspective" which dictated other obligations. As a matter of fact, when the time came to publish the Diary in Germany, Anneliese Schütz inserted some new alterations. Let us take an example that she herself mentions. The manuscript, they say, included the following sentence: " no greater hostility in the world than between the Germans and the Jews" (ibidem). Anneliese Schütz declared to the journalist of Der Spiegel: "I always told myself that a book, destined to be sold in Germany, cannot contain an expression insulting to the Germans" (ibidem). That argumentation at one and the same time of the commercial, sentimental and political order is understandable when coming from a woman of Berlin Jewish origin, who had been a militant before the war in a suffragette movement and who had had to leave her own country for political reasons, but otherwise that argumentation is all the less acceptable because the "insulting" remarks have been and continue to be spread in the millions of copies of the Diary sold throughout the world in languages other than German.
One does not have the impression that Mr. Frank's "collaborators" in the publishing of the diary were especially pleased with their work, nor that they were especially delighted about the fuss made about that Diary. Let us take those collaborators one by one: about Isa Cauvern, we can say nothing, except that she committed suicide by throwing herself out of her window in June of 1946. Mr. Frank had just signed or was going to sign his contract for publication with Contact. The motive for that suicide is not known to us and it is at present impossible to establish a tie of some kind between that suicide and the affair of the Diary. As regards the person who wrote the preface, Anna Romein-Verschoor, she was to declare to Der Spiegel in 1959: "I was not at all suspicious enough" (Ich bin wohl nicht misstrauisch genug gewesen). Her husband had been no more suspicious. Albert Cauvern had not been able to obtain from Mr. Frank the return of the typed text on which he had worked. He had asked for that text "in memory of my wife" who died in 1946. Mr. Frank had not sent the text in question. Kurt Baschwitz, a friend of Mr. Frank, was one of the "three eminent persons" (the two others being Mr. and Mrs. Romein). In 1959, he was to plead for an "agreement" between Mr. Frank and Lothar Stielau. He recommended, on the other hand, a complete publication of the text of the manuscripts to resolve the problem. To know what the text was in reality, that solution would have been, as a matter of fact, that most suitable. Anneliese Schütz, for her part, was to show her disapproval both of the "Anne Frank Myth" and of the attitude of Mr. Frank with regard to Lothar Stielau. She was in favor of a policy of silence: the least fuss possible about Anne Frank and her diary. She went so far as to disapprove of Mr. Frank and Ernst Schnabel for Spur eines Kindes: what need was there for that book? As regards to Stielau, if he had made the remark for which Mr. Frank criticized him for, latter had only to act as if he did not hear it. That "sharp" (scharff) (ibidem) reaction by Anneliese Schütz was all the more peculiar because this woman presented herself as the "translator" of the diary into German and because Ernst Schnabel had — but perhaps she did not know it — pushed kindness so far as to have declared with regard to that improbable "translation": Ich wünschte, alle Übersetzungen waren so getreu (page 54) ("I would wish that all translations were so faithful").