The authenticity of the diary of Anne Frank

On social media, posts are circulating that parts of Anne Frank's diary were written in ballpoint pen. This claim is not true. All claims that the diary is a forgery and that it was written by others than Anne Frank herself are lies.

‘The report of the Netherlands Forensic Institute has convincingly demonstrated that both versions of the diary of Anne Frank were written by her in the years 1942 to 1944. The allegations that the diary was the work of someone else (...) are thus conclusively refuted.’

Did Anne Frank write with a ballpoint pen?

No. Anne Frank wrote her diary with a fountain pen and with pencil. Document research by the Netherlands Forensic Institute at the request of the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (NIOD) revealed that most of the diary and loose sheets were written with gray-blue fountain pen ink. In addition, Anne also used thin red ink, green and red colored pencils and black pencil for her notes. But no ballpoint pen.

The origin of the "ballpoint myth"

In 1959, the diary was examined for authenticity. During that examination, a graphologist left a few notes among the original pages of the diary. In 1980, these notes were discovered by the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) during an investigation of the paper and ink used in the diary. But in its report about it, the BKA gave the impression that "ballpoint corrections were made" in the diary itself. And because that ballpoint ink has only been in use since 1951, that report has been seized upon by Holocaust deniers as proof that the entire diary was not written until after World War II. In July 2006, the BKA declared as yet, that the 1980 study cannot be used to question the authenticity of the diary.

‘At the moment there are four court cases in West Germany, two in Hamburg and two in Frankfurt, concerning accusations that the diary is a forgery. I fought against this in 1961 and won, but the same accusations are still being expressed, and I have to fight against them over and over again.’

Legal actions

Over the years a number of people have tried to spread the claim that the diary of Anne Frank is a forgery. Until his death, Otto Frank carried out legal actions against these “deniers”. After his death in 1980 this task is taken over by the Anne Frank House and the Anne Frank Fonds.

Political agenda

The attacks on the authenticity of the diary need to be seen in a wider perspective. People who have claimed, or still claim, that the diary is not genuine have a political agenda. They often also say or write that the Holocaust never happened. Or they try to prove that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz, and that the figure of six million Jews murdered during the Second World War is an exaggeration. The diary of Anne Frank is an important document of the Holocaust, and since the Second World War Anne Frank has become the most well known symbol of the persecution of the Jews. People and organisations that deny or trivialise the Holocaust are attempting to exonerate and rehabilitate the National Socialist system. Or, by spreading doubts on the fate of the Jews during the Second World War, they try to undermine the state of Israel’s right to exist.

Television and Internet

In Europe and North America the distribution of material in which the authenticity of the diary of Anne Frank is attacked – and often that the Holocaust is denied – is fortunately only the work of a few people. There are no serious scientists who doubt the fact that the Holocaust took place or that the diary of Anne Frank really was written by her. But in the Middle East, Holocaust denial has increasingly become a weapon in the struggle against Israel, and falsehoods about the Holocaust are put forward on television and the Internet on a wide scale. Many children in the Middle East learn at school that the diary of Anne Frank is a forgery. Through satellite television, these lies also seep through into the Western world.
In addition, the people who spread material in which the Holocaust is denied or the diary of Anne Frank is attacked have in the Internet a means of potentially spreading their ideas very widely indeed. Every Internet user can be confronted with them, usually unwillingly. For this reason, the Anne Frank House wants to use all the means at its disposal – and therefore also our website – to repudiate the lies about the diary of Anne Frank.

Holocaust denier Faurisson visits Otto Frank

In October 1993 Fritzi Frank-Markowitz was interviewed by Wouter van der Sluis, a researcher and filmmaker from the Anne Frank House. Fritzi Frank was the widow of Otto Frank. She died in 1998. In the interview she talks about the visit of Robert Faurisson, a notorious Holocaust denier. He denies the existence of gas chambers, for example, and disputes the authenticity of the diary of Anne Frank. But according to Fritzi Frank, when he examined the diary he said: ‘It’ll be very difficult to prove that the diary is a forgery.’

Robert Faurisson visits Otto and Fritzi Frank. Interview with Fritzi Frank-Markovits.

Five new diary pages

In 1998, five previously unknown pages from the diary of Anne Frank cropped up. They were five loose sheets that Otto Frank had already set apart before the publication of the diary in 1947. In all probability, Otto Frank did not want to make these diary fragments public because of Anne’s rather hurtful observations about his first wife, who died in Auschwitz, and their marriage.

They were examined and there was no reason whatsoever to presume that the five returned loose sheets were not written by Anne Frank.

The five pages were first included in the fifth edition of De Dagboeken van Anne Frank (2001).

What research has been done into the authenticity of the diary?

Because of the persistent accusations against the diary of Anne Frank in the 1960’s and 70’s, a number of investigations were carried out into the diary’s authenticity, partly on Otto Frank’s initiative.

The most extensive investigation was carried out in the first half of the 1980’s by the Netherlands Forensic Institute at the request of the National Institute for War Documentation. The results of this research were presented in a report of over 250 pages. The main section of the report is taken up with the findings of a detailed handwriting comparison, but a forensic document analysis was also carried out. The Diaries of Anne Frank, the so-called Critical Edition that was published by the NIOD in 1986, contains a 65-page summary of the Forensic Institute report.

The NIOD concludes: ‘The report of the Netherlands Forensic Institute has convincingly demonstrated that both versions of the diary of Anne Frank were written by her in the years 1942 to 1944. The allegations that the diary was the work of someone else (afterthe war or otherwise) are thus conclusively refuted.’

German research

Earlier research had also been done before the Forensic Institute’s investigation in the 1980’s. In 1959, Anne Frank’s manuscripts were studied by graphologists (handwriting experts) in Germany, as part of the preparations for a legal action that was brought by Otto Frank.

In March 1960, the Hamburg graphologists came to the conclusion in their 131-page report that all the notations in the diaries and the loose sheets, and all the corrections and additions, were ’identical’ with Anne’s handwriting. The report also concluded that the loose sheets were not written before the three diary books. Finally, the conclusion was made that ‘(...) the text published in German translation as Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank may be considered true to its sources in substance and ideas.’

A very limited investigation also took place in Germany in 1980, also in preparation for legal proceedings, and this time carried out by the Federal Criminal Police Office (the Bundeskriminalamt or BKA) in Wiesbaden. The BKA came to the conclusion that all the types of paper and ink used were manufactured before 1950, and could therefore have been used in the war years.

Who claim that the diary of Anne Frank is a forgery?

Apart from a few deluded eccentrics, all the people (and groups of people) who seriously claim that the diary of Anne Frank, or parts of it, are a forgery fall into the category of Holocaust deniers.

They are people who, by means of an attack on the diary, attempt to sow doubt about the fact that the Holocaust truly took place, that six million Jews were murdered during the Second World War, and that the Nazis ever built any gas chambers. They are people with a political aim: by denying or trivialising the Holocaust, they try to prove or make it appear reasonable that Nazism was (and is) a much less malevolent system than everyone thinks. Because it forms an accessible introduction to the Holocaust to people all over the world, and is often used in schools, the diary of Anne Frank is a popular target for these old and new Nazis.

Historical revisionism

Holocaust deniers – also called negationists – come in all shapes and sizes. There are some who wrap themselves in a scientific cloak: they call themselves revisionists or historical revisionists. Using pseudo-scientific arguments, they try to revise the history of the Second World War. One of the most widely translated and distributed revisionist texts about the diary of Anne Frank is the “study” by the French scientist Robert Faurisson, published in 1978 under the title Le Journal d’Anne Frank est-il authentique? (The Diary of Anne Frank: Is It Authentic?). Faurisson has repeatedly been sentenced to fines and prison terms for spreading the libellous claim that no gas chambers existed in the Second World War, and for incitement to discrimination and racial hatred.


Holocaust denial does not only take place in the western world, but also – and in recent years increasingly – in the Middle East. There it is mainly used as a weapon in the struggle against the state of Israel. Sowing doubt about the fate of the Jews during the Second World War, and proclaiming that the diary of Anne Frank is not authentic, is done primarily to ‘prove’ that the Holocaust is “Zionist propaganda”. In this way, people try to undermine the state of Israel‘s right to exist. In Iran, the denial of the Holocaust is even official state ideology, but in the Arabic world too – and increasingly in Turkey – Holocaust deniers are presented in the media as serious scientists. It is striking how many of the revisionist texts that circulate in the Middle East (on the Internet and elsewhere) are of European or American origin.

Why shouldn’t people claim that the diary is a forgery?

Freedom of speech is an important human right in every democratic society. It means that each individual is free to publicly express all kinds of ideas, opinions and standpoints, without prior censorship. But freedom of speech does not mean that anyone can say or shout anything in public with impunity. Just like all other fundamental human rights, there are also limits to freedom of speech that may not be crossed. Inciting hatred, murder or violence, and the distribution of libel, are punishable offences. The spreading of demonstrable untruths about the diary of Anne Frank is not only extremely insulting to those directly involved, it is also discriminatory and offensive to all victims of the Holocaust and their surviving relatives.

Lawful or unlawful

It is only after a statement has been made, that a court can decide if it is unlawful. On this point, the United States and the countries of the European Union have very different traditions. A limit will not be imposed on freedom of speech so quickly in the United States. It is not for nothing that the First Amendment of the American Constitution states that no laws may be made that unnecessarily restrict this freedom.

In Europe, limits on freedom of speech will be set earlier, if the right to protection against discrimination is at issue. While the denial of the Holocaust is not illegal in the USA, there are laws in Germany, France and some other European countries that make the spreading of lies about “Auschwitz” – and thus also lies about the diary of Anne Frank – a criminal offence. A considerable number of the books and websites where the diary of Anne Frank is attacked come from the USA.

The Anne Frank House counters the attacks on the authenticity of the diary

The Anne Frank House has opposed attacks on the authenticity of the diary in its statements and writings and also, in a number of cases, by legal means. In 1976, the Anne Frank House was a joint plaintiff in the legal action taken by Otto Frank against Heinz Roth at the District Court in Frankfurt (see previous paragraph).

“Free Historical Research”

Together with other organisations, the Anne Frank House took legal action against the revisionist mail-order company Vrij Historisch Onderzoek (Free Historical Research, VHO), one of the main distributors of material denying the Holocaust and attacking the diary of Anne Frank in the Dutch-speaking world.

Based in Antwerp in Belgium, Free Historical Research had been distributing the report Le Journal d’Anne Frank est-il authentique by Robert Faurisson since 1985, and in 1991 it published the booklet The “Diary” of Anne Frank: a critical approach. This book contained the Faurisson report and an introduction by the Free Historical Research publisher Siegfried Verbeke. The booklet was also sent unsolicited to libraries and private individuals in the Netherlands.

The Anne Frank House joined together with the Anne Frank Fonds in Basel to initiate civil proceedings against Verbeke, Faurisson and Free Historical Research. They demanded a ban on the distribution of the booklet in the Netherlands, under penalty of a fine of 25,000 Dutch guilders. In December 1998 the Amsterdam District Court found for the plaintiffs and upheld their demand for a ban, a judgement that was confirmed on appeal in 2000. Also other legal actions against Free Historical Research, which has greatly expanded its activities via the Internet, have been conducted.

Why is so little action taken against websites?

Throughout the last decades of the twentieth century, doubt was cast on the authenticity of the diary of Anne Frank mainly through booklets, pamphlets and brochures from obscure Nazi publishers. The vast majority of these tracts barely, or never, reached a general public. But with the arrival of the Internet, distributors of Holocaust denial material have gained many new opportunities. Anyone who types ‘Anne Frank’ into a search engine will not only find links to websites with solid and reliable information, but can also be confronted with websites where lies and falsehoods about the diary are presented. And by typing in the word ‘Holocaust’ one quickly trips over revisionist websites. Where this is concerned the Internet is not only a wonderful, unbelievably huge library, but also a dunghill.

Legal measures are not straightforward

The question of what is the best and most effective way of combating Holocaust denial and the distribution of lies about the diary of Anne Frank on the Internet is a complicated one. Partly because of the way the Internet operates across national borders, legal measures are not straightforward. Some revisionist and neo-Nazi groups use Internet service providers outside of Europe in order to escape legal action. The United States has a different tradition of legal powers against libel and defamation, so that Holocaust denial does not easily lead to prosecution.

Websites with counterfacts

On the other hand, there are a number of websites based in the United States where the “arguments” of Holocaust deniers are demolished (see also below). On these sites, facts, figures and documents disprove the lies of revisionist reports, based on the philosophy that facts are the best and only remedy against the spreading of lies.

  1. Anne Frank, De dagboeken van Anne Frank, ingel. door David Barnouw, Harry Paape en Gerrold van der Stroom ; met de samenvatting van het rapport van het Gerechtelijk Laboratorium, opgesteld door H.J.J. Hardy; tekstverzorging door David Barnouw en Gerrold van der Stroom, 5e  verbeterde en uitgebreide druk, Amsterdam: Bert Bakker i.s.m. het Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, 2001.
  2. Anne Frank, The diary of Anne Frank: the revised critical edition, prep. by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation; introd. by Harry Paape, Gerrold van der Stroom and David Barnouw; with a summary of the report by the Netherlands Forensic Institute comp. by H.J.J. Hardy; ed. by David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom; transl. by Arnold J. Pomerans, transl. by Arnold J. Pomerans, Barbara M. Mooyaart-Doubleday & Susan Massotty, New York, NY: Doubleday, 2003, p. 186.
  3. The diary of Anne Frank: the revised critical edition, p. 87.
  4. BKA: Kriminaltechnisches Gutachten von 1980 begründet keine Zweifel an der Echtheit der Anne Frank-Tagebücher, 26 July 2006, Presseportal Bundeskriminalamt

More information about Holocaust denial

  • Barnes, Ian R. - A revisionist historian manipulates Anne Frank's diary / Ian R. Barnes, Vivienne R.P. Barnes. - In : Patterns of Prejudice, 15 (1981) 1 (January), p. 27-32.
  • Barnouw, David. Attacks on the authenticity of the Diary. – In: The diary of Anne Frank : the critical edition / prep. by the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation ; introd. by Harry Paape, Gerrold van der Stroom and David Barnouw ; with a summary of the report by the State Forensic Science Laboratory of the Ministry of Justice comp. by H.J.J. Hardy ; ed. by David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom ; transl. by Arnold J. Pomerans and B.M. Mooyaart-Doubleday – New York, NY Doubleday, 1989. – p. 84-101.
  • Barnouw, David. The authenticity of Anne Franks Diary. - In: Jennifer Gariepy (ed.), Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Topics Volume 58. – Detroit, MI : Gale Research Inc., 1995. – p. 76- 84.
  • Kuttner, Paul. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is a hoax. – In: The Holocaust: hoax or history? : The book of answers to those who would deny the Holocaust / Paul Kuttner. – New York, NY : Dawnwood Press, cop. 1996. – P.1-8.
  • Evans, Richard J. Telling lies about Hitler : the Holocaust, history and the David Irving trial / Richard. J. Evans. - Londen [etc.] : Verso, cop. 2002.
  • Finkielkraut, Alain. The politics of negation : reflections on the question of genocide / Alain Finkielkraut ; transl. [from the French] by Mary Byrd Kelly ; with an introd. by Richard J. Golsan. - Lincoln, NE [etc.] : University of Nebraska Press, 1998. - (Texts and contexts).
  • Guttenplan, D.D. The Holocaust on trial : history, justice and the David Irving libel case / D. D. Guttenplan. - Londen : Granta Books, cop. 2001.
  • Kahn, Robert A. Holocaust denial and the law : a comparative study / Robert A. Kahn. - New York, NY [etc.] : Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
  • Kuttner, Paul. The Holocaust : hoax or history? : The book of answers to those who would deny the holocaust / Paul Kuttner. - New York, NY : Dawnwood Press, 1997.
  • Lipstadt, Deborah. Denying the Holocaust : the growing assault on truth and memory / Deborah E. Lipstadt. - 2nd pr. - New York, NY : Free Press, cop. 1993.
  • Lipstadt, Deborah. History on trial : my day in court with David Irving / Deborah E. Lipstadt. - New York, NY : Ecco, cop. 2005.
  • Pelt, Robert Jan van. The case for Auschwitz : evidence from the Irving Trial / Robert Jan van Pelt. - Bloomington, [etc.] : Indiana University Press, cop. 2002.
  • Seidel, Gill. The Holocaust denial : antisemitism, racism & the new right / Gill Seidel. - Leeds : Beyond the Pale Collective, 1986.
  • Shermer, Michael. Denying the Holocaust : who says the Holocaust never happened and why do they say it? / Michael Shermer & Alex Grobman. - Berkeley, CA [etc.] : University of California Press, 2000.
  • Vidal-Naquet, Pierre. Assassins of memory : essays on the denial of the Holocaust / Pierre Vidal-Naquet ; transl. [from the French] and with a forew. by Jeffrey Mehlman. - New York, NY : Colombia University Press, 1992. - (European perspectives).
The Nizkor Project - Techniques of denial

Website that discusses the techniques of Holocaust denial. Includes a FAQ section and details the denial of science, the toxicity of hydrogen cyanide, misrepresentation of the Holocaust, and fabrications concerning the Holocaust. 

Holocaust denial on trial

David Irving, a British writer and holocaust denier, sued American professor and author Deborah Lipstadt and her British publisher, Penguin Books Ltd., for libel in a trial that took place in London, England, in 2000. He lost.