This summer I took my kids to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and while we were there I saw a clip from a television interview Otto Frank gave in 1967. In it he talked about his experience of reading the diary for the first time after his daughter’s death, and what it revealed to him about who she was.
The clip struck me powerfully when I first saw it, and it’s stayed with me. I mentioned it to a student activist I had lunch with earlier this week, and thought of it again today while talking with a friend on Facebook about the Carla Alcorn post I wrote this morning.
When I Googled it to quote it in that latter conversation, though, I discovered that no full transcript of it existed online. Snippets are quoted in various places, including John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars, but the whole thing isn’t up anywhere.
That’s fixed now.
“I knew that Anne wrote a diary. She spoke about her diary. She left her diary with me at night in a briefcase next to my bed. I had promised her never to look in. I never did.
“When I returned, and after I had the news that my children would not come back, Miep gave me the diary, which had been saved by, I should say, a miracle. It took me a very long time to read it, and I must say I was very much surprised about the deep thoughts Anne had, her seriousness — especially her self-criticism.
“It was quite a different Anne [than] I had known as my daughter. She never really showed this kind of inner feeling. She talked about many things, we criticized many things, but what really her feelings were, I only could see from the diary.
“And my conclusion is, as I had been in very, very good terms with Anne, that most parents don’t know, really, their children.”