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Banned Books Week: The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frannk

“I live in a crazy time”

–Anne Frank

 

 

Consequences

One of the key consequences of book banning is erasure. When we decide that some things are too uncomfortable to talk about, we risk losing the memory of how things happen. We lose context, we lose people, we lose the truth.

That seems to be the case according to a recent study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. The New York Times summarizes, “Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was. And 52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force.”

I’m sure it is also lost on many that one of the actions taken by the Nazis during this time was to ban and burn books deemed “un-German.” When the goal is to control the message, art and literature always come under attack.

Ironically, some of the books that have been challenged or banned in the United States are the very ones that could help us piece together what happened during this unimaginable period of human history


The Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl
is another first hand account of life in Nazi German told from the perspective of a Jewish girl. The text is, in fact, the diary that Anne Frank kept while she, her family, and others were in hiding in an apartment attic in Amsterdam. She details what those two, quiet years were like until the apartment’s inhabitants were found and taken to the concentration camps. Anne did not survive, but her father, Otto Frank, advocated for her diary to be published. The reasons for banning or challenging Anne Frank’s diary largely have to do with the sexual content in the book. This was the case most recently in 2013, when a parent from the Northville school district in Michigan called Frank’s descriptions of her body “pretty pornographic.” Though in 1983, the Alabama State Textbook Committee commented that the book was “a real downer.”

5 Banned Books that will help you learn about the holocaust

5 Banned Books That Will Help You Learn About the Holocaust

By: Lauren Salerno

One of the key consequences of book banning is erasure. When we decide that some things are too uncomfortable to talk about, we risk losing the memory of how things happen. We lose context, we lose people, we lose the truth.

That seems to be the case according to a
recent study by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. The New York Times summarizes, “Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was. And 52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force.”

I’m sure it is also lost on many that one of the actions taken by the Nazis during this time was to
ban and burn books deemed “un-German.” When the goal is to control the message, art and literature always come under attack.


Ironically, some of the books that have been challenged or banned in the United States are the very ones that could help us piece together what happened during this unimaginable period of human history


June 13, 2018Lauren SalernoBanned and Challenged Books

History of being banned or challenged

1982 - Virginia - Challenged in Wise County after several parents complained the book contains sexually offensive passages and undermined adult authority when Anne criticizes her mother.

1983 - Alabama - Four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the book's rejection because it is "a real downer."

1998 - Texas - Removed for two months from Baker Middle School in Corpus Christi after two books called the book pornographic. Students waged a letter writing campaign and a review committee recommended the book returned.

2010 - Virginia - Challenged at the Culpeper County public schools after a parent asked her child not be required to read the book aloud. Initial reports stated a version of the book was stopped being assigned for sexual material and homosexual themes. The version, the 50th anniversary edition, would not be taught despite the school not following its own complaint policy. The Internet caught the story and it drew international attention. The book remained part of the curriculum, possibly at another grade level.

2013 - Michigan - Challenged but retained in the Northville middle schools despite anatomical descriptions in the book. Opponents to the challenge wrote that the book shown a positive light on the changing female body as Frank was hiding from Nazis. 

The Power of the Written Word

Banned Books Remind Us Of The Power Of The Written Word by Scott Simon

Look for "the good parts" — the sections of Ulysses, The Grapes of Wrath, The Color Purple, Catch-22, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Lolita, the Harry Potter series, Animal Farm, A Farewell to Arms or In the Night Kitchen that have scenes and language that once made people gasp, blush or shudder. The parts that made them say, "We can't let people read this!"

Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl is still sometimes taken off shelves or reading lists. Not because students might get nightmares to read how the Frank family had to hide in an attic until they were dragged into Nazi death camps, but because at one, brief point, 14-year-old Anne describes her maturing anatomy.

Not every book someone wants to ban is as distinguished as those, of course. But look around the world, or through history, and you might see what happens in the societies that ban ideas, images or beliefs: They wind up as intolerant, oppressive and ugly.

A lot of books once disparaged as smutty or blasphemous become classified as classics — or worse: "required reading."

Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl is still sometimes taken off shelves or reading lists. Not because students might get nightmares to read how the Frank family had to hide in an attic until they were dragged into Nazi death camps, but because at one, brief point, 14-year-old Anne describes her maturing anatomy.

Not every book someone wants to ban is as distinguished as those, of course. But look around the world, or through history, and you might see what happens in the societies that ban ideas, images or beliefs: They wind up as intolerant, oppressive and ugly.

A lot of books once disparaged as smutty or blasphemous become classified as classics — or worse: "required reading."

This book has been banned in several schools in the United States over the years.  Mostly in regards 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.

Anne would have been 90 years old today. I wonder what, if she had lived, she would think about the world. While I think she would be disappointed to see that the world still experiences racism, xenophobia, and other forms of discrimination, I would also like to think that she would feel hopeful that the active pursuit of inclusivity is so prevalent in our daily lives.

I’ll wrap up with two of my favorite quotes from The Diary of a Young Girl. To me, these words highlight the beauty and challenge of impacting the world, even in the face of difficult or even tragic situations.

Anne acknowledges that “What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.” As if knowing how monumental that task can be, Anne also offers us words of encouragement:

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

‚ÄčNPR  September 27, 2014 9:52 AM ET Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday