Dirty jokes and mentions of sex, prostitution and contraception were recently uncovered in two hidden pages of Anne Frank’s diary, the existence of which was announced Tuesday in the Netherlands.
Seventy-three years after the death of the Jewish teenager who was captured in her family’s hiding place in Amsterdam and who eventually died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, a thrilling discovery connected to her famous diary was revealed to the world.
Researchers from Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House and the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies joined forces for a new project. Using new image processing technology, special lighting and image processing software, they succeeded in deciphering two pages from the famous diary that Anne had hidden under brown masking tape. Their work enabled them to “recover” the text of the two pages which had until now been illegible because the words on either side of the pages had bled into each other.
“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. “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 executive director of the Anne Frank House museum, Ronald Leopold, said Tuesday that the newly discovered pages “bring us even closer to the girl and the writer Anne Frank,” while adding that the content is similar to published passages of the diary that discuss sexuality.
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The Anne Frank House addressed moral considerations in deciphering a text that its author did not 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 pages contained four jokes about sex that Anne herself described as “dirty” and an explanation of women’s sexual development, sex, contraception and prostitution.
One of the jokes in the recently deciphered pages of the diary was popular at the time, and Anne presumably heard it on the radio or from her father: “Do you know why the German Wehrmacht girls are in Holland? As mattresses for the soldiers.”
In the passage on sex, Anne described how a young woman gets her period around age 14, saying that it is “a sign that she is ripe to have relations with a man but one doesn’t do that of course before one is married.”
On prostitution, she wrote: “All men, if they are normal, go with women, women like that accost them on the street and then they go together. In Paris they have big houses for that. Papa has been there.”
Anne wrote her diary while she and her family hid in an apartment in Amsterdam from July 1942 until August 1944. She was deported to Auschwitz, and died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen. Only Anne’s father, Otto Frank, survived, and after the war he had her diary published.