FAQs legal action Anne Frank Fonds against the Anne Frank House and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

FAQs

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The Huygens Institute for Netherlands History (Huygens Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis - Huygens ING), which falls under the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen  - KNAW), and the Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Stichting - House) began new textual and historical research on Anne Frank’s manuscripts in 2011.

Introduction

In March 2015 the Anne Frank Fonds in Basel (CH), the copyright holders of Anne Frank’s diaries, instigated legal action against the KNAW and the House. According to the Fonds, the KNAW and the House are violating the Fonds’ copyright by doing scientific research on Anne Frank’s diary texts.  The Anne Frank House and the KNAW are of the opinion that the research falls under the freedom of scientific pursuit.  

In its ruling on 23 December 2015  the Amsterdam court found in favour of the Anne Frank House and the KNAW. The Anne Frank House and the KNAW are of the opinion that copyright law cannot be used to thwart scientific research, and the Amsterdam court has endorsed this view. 

1.     What does the scientific research focus on?

The scientific research focuses on Anne Frank’s development as a writer and the events she describes in her diaries. The textual research by the Huygens ING provides insight into Anne’s intentions when she rewrote her diary texts. The House is researching the historical aspects, unexpected connections and background to the texts. The Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Instituut voor Oorlogs-, Holocaust- en Genocidestudies - NIOD) is doing literature research on the conditions of Jews in hiding in Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general and in so doing provides a broad historical framework for the individual history of the Franks in hiding.

2.     What is the Fonds’ complaint against the House and the KNAW?

The Fonds is of the opinion that the House and the KNAW are infringing the Fonds’ copyright by doing scientific research on Anne Frank’s diary texts.  

3.     Why has the KNAW been summonsed and not the Huygens ING?

The Huygens ING is not a legal entity; the institute falls under the KNAW. Hence the KNAW has been summonsed.

4.     Is scientific research on Anne Frank’s diary texts allowed without obtaining permission from the Fonds, the copyright holder?

Yes, that is allowed. The Anne Frank House and the KNAW are of the opinion that copyright law cannot be used to thwart scientific research. This would be in conflict with the constitutional freedom to research and information. Scientific research is not only permitted, it is desirable, given its huge social and historical value. The House and Huygens ING are acting within the current legal framework, including the Copyright Act.

5.     Are Anne Frank’s physical diary texts used in this research?

No, we do not use them. Facsimiles, copies of Anne Frank’s diary texts, are used in the scientific research.  

The diaries of Anne Frank and other writings, such as her ‘Favourite Quotes Notebook’ and ‘Tales Book’, are the property of the Dutch State, which gave them to the Anne Frank House on permanent loan in 2009. 

6.     Why is it important to share the research results?

The House is an educational organization and dedicated to the preservation of Anne Frank’s hiding place and her diaries. The House finds it important to share its knowledge with as many third parties as possible. The House gladly makes its expertise available to others and provides detailed insight into the history of Anne Frank within the context of World War II and the persecution of the Jews.

With the textual and historical research on the manuscripts the Huygens ING has no other intention than scholarship. In this project it wants to research further the international heritage that Anne Frank’s diaries are and offer new perspectives. The KNAW is an advocate of the freedom to exercise scientific activities.

7.     In 1986 the critical edition of Anne Frank’s diaries by the NIOD was published in the Netherlands. What is the additional value of this research in relation to the NIOD research?

The goal of the research by the NIOD in 1986 was to determine the authenticity of Anne Frank’s diaries by means of specialized forensic methods. In addition the three then existing versions of the diary texts (A, B and C) were presented in one edition for the first time. In 2001 a revised and extended edition of the NIOD edition was published in the Netherlands. The content of this edition is further the same as that from 1986.

The current research differs from the 1986 research in a number of ways:

  • The current research includes all of Anne Frank’s writings, so not only the different versions of the diary but also Cady’s Life, the Tales from the Secret Annexe and Favourite Quotes Notebook. All these texts are being researched in relation to one another.
  • The textual research by the Huygens ING focuses mainly on the textual analysis of Anne’s texts. The research gives insights into what Anne’s intentions were when she began rewriting her diary texts. For example, what did Anne include from her diary (version A) in her ‘novel’ that she hoped to publish after the war (version B)? Which passages did she omit, which did she change and how? The Huygens ING is analysing the textual characteristics and unexpected connections of Anne’s texts. This gives insight into Anne’s development from a candid diarist aged 13 to the writer she became at the age of 15.
  • The House is researching the historical aspects, unexpected connections and background to the texts. For example, what did Anne write about her life before going into hiding and what do we know about this from other primary sources? How was the housekeeping organized in the Secret Annexe, how were the deliveries and the finances arranged, what health care was available when you were ill? How, what and when did Anne hear about the raids, the concentration camps, the gassings?
  • The NIOD is doing extensive literature research on the conditions of Jews in hiding in Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general and hence is providing a broad historical framework for the individual history of the Franks in hiding.

8.     What is understood by Anne Frank’s manuscripts?

 Anne Frank’s manuscripts comprise:

  • Anne’s diaries: the red checked diary and the two subsequent diaries that have been preserved which she wrote in the Secret Annexe on Prinsengracht and her rewritten version of the diary.
  • The exercise book Tales from the Secret Annexe.
  • Cady’s Life: Anne wrote this longer story at the back of her second diary exercise book.
  • The ‘Favourite Quotes Notebook’: Anne copied quotations that she thought were beautiful in this book from the books she read while she was in hiding.

9.     What is the situation with the A, B and C versions of Anne Frank’s diaries?

A version: On her thirteenth birthday, 12 June 1942, Anne’s parents gave her the red checked diary. On 6 July 1942 the Frank family had to go into hiding. In the Secret Annexe Anne quickly filled her first diary and continued in notebooks, of which two have been preserved. The red checked diary and the notebooks are called the A version.

B version: in March 1944 when the inhabitants of the Secret Annexe heard on Radio Oranje that diaries would be collected after the war to document the suffering during the war, Anne decided to rewrite her diary on loose sheets of paper for publication. Her big dream was to become a famous writer and journalist. From this version rewritten by her, 215 pages have been preserved, the so-called B version.

C version: Otto compiled ‘Het Achterhuis’ (The Secret Annexe) from the A and B versions. It was published in Dutch in 1947 in the Netherlands and is a combination of passages from Anne’s A and B versions. Otto had to make a combination because the A version was not compete and the B version stopped before 1 August 1944.

10.  Why a court case? Why not just sit down around the table and work out a solution?

Otto Frank, Anne’s father, was closely involved in the foundation of both the Anne Frank House and the Anne Frank Fonds. The two organisations worked together for many years to achieve the aims envisaged by Otto Frank. Some years ago the Anne Frank Fonds chose to end this partnership. Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House, says: “We regret this decision by the Anne Frank Fonds. We would have liked the partnership to continue, in the spirit of Otto Frank. The legal steps taken by the Fonds against the Anne Frank House are contrary to the missions of both the Anne Frank House and the Anne Frank Fonds. We therefore still hope that the Fonds will open itself up for dialogue.