Why Was the Diary of Anne Frank Banned?

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

In the 'The Diary of Anne Frank', Anne Frank's poignant recalling of her two years in hiding has been considered controversial and has had public outcry to be banned in several states. In this lesson, you'll learn why it was banned in some places.

The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank is the diary of a 13-year-old Jewish girl that is pulled into hiding because of the Nazi invasion. Her sister, Margot, had received a letter telling her to report to a labor camp, making the Frank family go into hiding even quicker than they had originally planned. They lived in a room that was behind Anne's fathers office. They called it the Secret Annex, and lived there for 2 years, with 4 others. During this time, Anne is struggling with growing up and the fear of staying in hiding. Anne also finds herself at odds with her mother and sister during most of their time in the Annex, so she spent a lot of time alone, writing in her journal and being reflective on her life.

Anne Frank
Anne Frank

The diary went through her fears, but also recounted the horrors of what was happening in the Netherlands during World War II. Anne and her family would sneak into the office at night to listen to the radio in hopes of staying up to date on the world around them. This uniquely rare insight to Anne's mind also shines on matters very personal, which is what has been the most controversial element of the book.

The Controversy

For a diary that recounts some of the atrocities of World War II, and the negativity focused on the Nazis, the controversy around this book has nothing to do with this. Strangely, the controversy surrounding the diary is based on a small snippet of one entry. In this entry, Anne, who is curious about her growing body, starts to discuss her female genitalia. It is discussed in Anne's honest voice, with no sexuality expressed, but just trying to explain what she finds. You can tell her contentious relationship with her mother and sister has made her feel unable to discuss these personal things, so she turns to her constant companion, her diary.

Banned or Censored

Over the years, schools in Virginia, Michigan, and Alabama have tried to get Anne Frank's diary banned. The accusations mostly center around people believing the words of Anne's curiosity on her body being pornographic, while some believed the words showed homosexual tendencies. In most cases the book was never banned, but it was occasionally censored, where that one section was removed completely.

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