The two versions of Anne’s diary

From 20 May 1944 onwards, Anne rewrote a large part of her diary. She planned to publish this book about her time in the Secret Annex after the war. For a title, she came up with Het Achterhuis or The Secret Annex. What are the most striking differences between the two versions?

The love has cooled

In Het Achterhuis (The Secret Annex) Anne left out much she had written about in her first diary. The most striking example was her love for Peter van Pels.

On 19 March 1944, Anne wrote in her diary about an intimate conversation with Peter: ‘We told each other so much, so very very much, that I can’t repeat it all, but it was lovely, the most wonderful evening I have ever had in the "Secret Annex".’ (19 March 1944, A-version). In the rewritten version, she left out this entire letter.

By the time Anne was busy rewriting her diary, her love for Peter had cooled considerably and she was a little disappointed with him. He had not become the friend she had hoped for.

‘[...] I’ve become wiser and Mother’s nerves have calmed a bit.’

Kinder about her mother

The relationship between Anne and her mother was problematic. Their personalities were incompatible, and they often clashed.  But they could not avoid each other in the Secret Annex. In her diary, Anne had often written harshly about her mother. Leafing through her diary, she was sometimes taken aback by her own harsh words.

In the rewritten version, Anne was kinder, and some passages were omitted altogether. On 2 January 1944, Anne wrote a new passage for Het Achterhuis: ‘The period when I caused Mummy to shed tears is over, I have grown wiser and Mummy's nerves are not so much on edge. I usually keep my mouth shut if I get annoyed, and so does she, so we appear to get on much better together.’

A text from 6 January was left out altogether: ‘I need my mother as an example which I can follow, I want to be able to respect her and thought my mother is an example to me in most things, but she is precisely the kind of example that I do not want to follow.’

Less explicit about sexuality

15-year-old Anne looked with amazement at the things she had written about sex and sexuality when she was 13 years old. Most of the references and passages on the subject were omitted from the rewritten version. In her diary, Anne wrote about her period several times, and these passages did not make it into Het Achterhuis either.

Anne also left out diary letters from a later period, March 1944. In those diary letters she had written about her conversations with Peter, about sexuality, and what they had shared about the subject.

Developing as a writer

Some texts in The Secret Annex differ from the original diary texts for reasons unknown to us. They probably have to do with the fact that Anne was developing into a literary writer, who was critical of what she wrote.

The day they go into hiding

An example: On 6 July 1942, Anne and her parents left for the hiding place. In Het Achterhuis, Anne wrote: ‘So we walked through the pouring rain, Daddy, Mummy and I, each with a school satchel and shopping bag filled to the brim with all kinds of things thrown together anyhow. We got sympathetic looks from people on their way to work. You could see by their faces how sorry they were they could't offer us a lift, the gaudy yellow star spoke for itself.’ (9 July 1942, B-version).

This passage does not occur in her first diary: there are no people on their way to work. In her diary, Anne just wrote that she and her mother had each carried a school bag.

The question is what Anne Frank remembered of that day two years later, when she worked on Het Achterhuis. If she really had seen the workers? Either way, the rewritten version is much more evocative.

Evoking an image of a bombing

Another example. On 29 March 1944, Anne wrote about the heavy bombing of the port of IJmuiden, north of Amsterdam. The people in hiding had had to wait helplessly and hope the annex would not be hit by a stray bomb.

In her diary, Anne wrote: ‘Although I tell you a lot, still, even so, you only know very little of our lives. How scared the ladies are here sometimes (for instance on Sunday they used 350 planes to drop 500,000 kg on IJmuiden) how the houses shake from the bombs, (...).’

In Het Achterhuis, Anne changed this to: ‘Although I tell you a lot, still, even so, you only know very little of our lives. How scared the ladies are during the raids. For instance on Sunday when 350 British planes dropped ½ million kilos of bombs on IJmuiden, how the houses trembled like a wisp of grass in the wind, (...).’

In this case, the diary version and Het Achterhuis do not actually differ in content, but Anne did make stylistic adjustments to the text and reinforced the image of the bombing.

The girl is becoming a writer

There are numerous differences like these between Anne's original text and her rewritten version, especially when it comes to the first six months in hiding, from July to December 1942. 15-year-old Anne made many changes to the letters from this period. By the spring of 1944, the thirteen-year-old girl with the diary had grown into a real writer.