The Diary of a Young Girl has been challenged and censored many times since its first publishing in 1947. The diary has now been published in more than seventy different languages and is deemed one of the most powerful books of the 20th century, with more than 30 million copies sold in sixty countries. However, after the diary became widely known in the late 1950s, various allegations against the diary were published, with the earliest criticisms occurring in Sweden and Norway. In Austria, protestors claimed that Anne Frank never existed. This was, however, found to be false after Simon Wiesenthal found the man who arrested her; his oral history corroborated the version of events that had previously been presented by witnesses.
This book has been banned in several schools in the United States over the years. Mostly in regard to passages that were considered “sexually offensive,” as well as for the tragic nature of the book, which some felt might be “depressing” for young readers. However, the diary had not been officially censored until 1982 when parents of school children in Wise County, Virginia complained of the book being “sexually offensive.” The passages in question regarded Anne describing her anatomy, sexual feelings, and homosexual descriptions of her friend.
Censorship continued just a year later when four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of the diary because it is “a real downer.” Albeit one of the most outrageous reasons to ban the book, Frank’s diary was nowhere near safe from banning. The American Library Association has documentation regarding six challenges to The Diary of Anne Frank since it began monitoring formal written complaints to remove or restrict books in 1990. Since the release of the unedited Definitive Edition, most of the concerns were about sexually explicit material such as mentioning the vagina and the experience of the changes related to puberty.
In 1998 it was removed for two months from the Baker Middle School in Corpus Christi, Texas after two parents charged that the book was pornographic. The book was returned after students waged a letter-writing campaign to keep it, and the review committee recommended the book’s retention. Most recently, in January of 2010 officials for Culpeper County Public Schools in Virginia stopped assigning Anne Frank’s diary after a lone parent complained that the book includes sexually explicit material and homosexual themes. This website aims to tell the story of this 21st century attempt at censorship.
Censored or not, the diary still stands as the embodiment of hope and a monument to the indestructible nature of the human spirit while also representing a tragedy of lost potential and serves as a reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust. In the words of Anne’s cousin, Buddy Elias, who spoke in 1996 about the Anne that appears in Definitive Edition of the Diary:
“It’s really her. It shows her in a truer light, not as a saint, but as a girl like every other girl. She was nothing, actually; people try to make a saint out of her and glorify her. That she was not. She was an ordinary, normal girl with a talent for writing.”
This is the version that should be remembered.
This is the version that censorship does not let you see.