There is no justification for publicising material she had hidden – it dehumanises her and diminishes the facts of the Holocaust
There is a secret inside Anne Frank’s diary: two pages of musing about “sexual matters” written in 1942 by a 13-year-old girl, and hidden with brown paper so they could not be found. But they were found with digital technology and are now published. The dead girl who wanted to be a journalist had one more unwilling, posthumous scoop. “Anne Frank’s secret diary entries reveal more thoughts on sex and prostitution,” said Newsweek.
I am squeamish about Anne Frank’s diary. I prefer to read Holocaust memoir by adults who knew the ending to their stories: Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel. Frank didn’t write for publication – in fact the idea of it disgusted her – and I do not want to know the ending to her story if she didn’t. That is not enlightenment, or empathy. That is frisson, and sentimentality. Writers use, and summon, pain for their art. That is normal. But Frank had no such agency. Her pain was inflicted on her and, whatever apologists might say, her voice was heard against her will. Young enough to move us but too young – or too dead? – to choose for herself? Where does that leave her? I can forgive her father, Otto Frank, who lost his whole family and published the diary, but no one else.