Home Culture Scholars restore pages with sexuality and dirty jokes to Anne Frank’s diary

Scholars restore pages with sexuality and dirty jokes to Anne Frank’s diary

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Anne Frank
Anne Frank

Researchers in the Dutch capital have recovered two pages from one of Anne Frank’s diaries that contain passages on sexuality.

The pages’ contents had remained unknown for decades because Frank had erased them. They were also covered by sheets of brown paper glued on top of them.

The pages were part of one of several diaries penned by the Jewish teenage diarist during her time hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam, the city’s Anne Frank House wrote in a statement Tuesday.

The Anne Frank House, a museum located in Frank’s former hiding place, did not quote directly from the text it had recovered. The statement said that the pages include four dirty jokes, some crossed out phrases and a text in which Anne Frank imagines herself teaching sexual education.

“Anne’s diary texts show that she had gleaned information on the subject of sexuality from her parents, especially her father, from her friend Jacqueline and from books,” the statement reads. “Anne did not let go of the subject. Over 18 months later she emphasized the important of good and thorough sex education, and she didn’t understand why adults were so secretive about it.”

Frank also noted that her father had told her about prostitutes.

The Anne Frank House said it used new “image processing technology” to decipher the covered pages. The Franks were caught by the Nazis in 1944. Only Anne Frank’s father, Otto, survived the Holocaust. He edited and published her writings in hiding after the war, making Anne Frank one of the world’s most famous Holocaust victims. Anne Frank wrote the jokes on Sept. 28, 1942, just three months after the family began their two-year stay at the hiding place.

“Anyone who reads the passages that have now been discovered will be unable to suppress a smile,” said Frank van Vree, director of the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, which participated in the deciphering of the pages. “The ‘dirty’ jokes are classics among growing children. They make it clear that Anne, with all her gifts, was above all also an ordinary girl.”

The Huygens Institute of Netherlands History was also a partner in the project.

The Anne Frank House addressed moral considerations in deciphering a text that its author did want read.

“The diary of Anne Frank is a world heritage object with great historical value, and this justifies research into it,” the institution said.

The two pages are not the only time Frank jotted down dirty jokes or wrote about sexuality, although in later passages she treats the subjects more maturely.

As the months in hiding progress, her handwriting gradually matured from the hesitant block letters of a child to the flowing cursive style of an author who is gaining confidence as she hones her writing skills.