Researchers Find Dirty Jokes, Musings on Menstruation Covered Up in Anne Frank's Diary

In Depth

Anne Frank’s diary was particularly powerful in that she wrote about the mundanities of her life as a typical teenager—crushes and all—even as the encroaching threat of Jewish genocide loomed over her family. And now researchers have uncovered that this typical teenager wasn’t beyond a good dirty joke.

The New York Times reports that two new pages have been recovered from Frank’s diary, which she purposefully covered up with brown paper. Researchers have figured out what was written under the paper using new technology, which revealed Frank’s thoughts on sex, prostitution, and menstruation, as well as some sexual jokes. The NYT reports:

“I sometimes imagine that someone might come to me and ask me to inform him about sexual matters,” Frank wrote in Dutch. “How would I go about it?” She attempts an answer, addressing an imaginary listener with a lofty tone, using phrases such as “rhythmical movements” to describe sex, and “internal medicament,” to refer to contraception.

The researchers argue that the passages are important and worth recovering because they show Frank experimenting with a more literary voice, talking to an imaginary subject. The head of collections at the Anne Frank House also argued that the change in style is imperative for the public to know, even though Frank may not have wanted it published, comparing the additional pages to finding something painted under a Rembrandt. A spokesperson for the Anne Frank house told the NYT that the text would eventually be available on its website in Dutch.

It’s worth pointing out that Frank already tackles her sex life in her diary explicitly because, you know, it’s a diary. And while I know it’s actually a fantastic discovery to find new pages in Frank’s diary, I can’t help but feel protective of Frank’s efforts as an editor, deliberately covering the parts of her diary she didn’t want read. And yet I’m also dying to know what her favorite jokes were!

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