The Muted Memory

The Reception of The Diary of Anne Frank in Poland
  • Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska


The Diary of Anne Frank is probably the most popular text worldwide, both of documentary and literary value, in the vast and multilingual body of literature on the Holocaust. Adapted as a play and feature film, the story became particularly well-known in the United States, where it also gave rise to a debate on various representations and misrepresentations of the Holocaust. A number of critics have expressed their dismay over the Americanization of the Holocaust, of which the reception of Anne Frank’s diary is a clear example. What they mean by ‘Americanization’ in this particular case includes sentimentalization, focus on the personal story (first love, parents/daughter relations) and the erasing or downplaying of the Jewishness of the author for the sake of a universalized and artificially optimistic message.1


Young Reader Jewish History Early Eighty Polish Audience Popular Text 
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  1. 1.
    One of the critics who consistently has expressed his negative views on the way the diary was received and used in America is Lawrence Langer. See e.g. his ‘The Americanization of the Holocaust on Stage and Screen’, in Sarah Blacher Cohen (ed.), From ‘Hester Street’ to Hollywood: The Jewish-American Stage and Screen (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), pp.213–230.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Alvin H. Rosenfeld, ‘Popularization and Memory: The Case of Anne Frank’, in Peter Hayes (ed.), Lessons and Legacies: The Meaning of the Holocaust in a Changing World (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1991), p.277.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Peter Novick, The Holocaust in American Life (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999).Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Józef Marian Święcicki, ‘Pamiętnik Anny Frank’ [Anne Frank’s Diary], Homo Dei. Przegląd Ascetyczno-Duszpasterski 3 (1959): 448–454.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Bogdan Danowicz, ‘Tragedia nowożytna’ [A Modern Tragedy], Nowa Kultura 17 (1960): 8, 11.Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    See the excellent study by Aleksander Żyga ‘Wymienne nazwy Zydów w piśmiennictwie polskim w latach 1794–1863 na tle głównych orientacji społeczno-politycznych i wyznaniowych żydostwa polskiego. Rekonesans’ [Substitute Names for Jews in Polish Writings in the Years 1794–1863 against the Major Socio-political and Religious Orientations of the Polish Jewry], in Eugenia Łoch (ed.), Literackie portrety Zydów [Jewish Literary Portraits] (Lublin: Wydawnictwo UMCS, 1996), pp.317–363.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Olga Wormser, ‘Anna Frank a dzień dzisiejszy’ [Anne Frank and the Today’s World], Widnokregi 8 (1959): 19.Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    See e.g. a very interesting discussion of a schematic play on the Holocaust performed in the Jewish State Theatre in Warsaw on the twentieth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: Seth Wolitz, ‘Performing a Holocaust Play in Warsaw in 1963’, in Claude Schumacher (ed.), Staging the Holocaust: The Shoah in Drama and Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp.130–146.Google Scholar
  9. 19.
    See Bogdan Bąk, ‘Ania z amsterdamskiego poddasza’ [Little Anne from an Amsterdam Attic], Słowo Polskie 43 (1961): 3.Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    See Salomon Łastik, ‘Sztuka, która uwrażliwia i oczyszcza’ [The Play That Makes One More Sensitive and Pure], Zołnierz Polski Ludowej 106 (1957): 4.Google Scholar
  11. 21.
    Arnold Grys, ‘List w sprawie wrocławskiego przedstawienia Anny Frank’ [A Letter Concerning the Wroclaw Performance of Anne Frank], Słowo Polskie 55 (1961): 3.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    Jan Kott, ‘Prawda i zmyślenie’ [Truth and Fiction], in Jan Kott, Miarka za miarkę [Measure for Measure], (Warszawa 1963), (review from a performance done in Warsaw in Teatr Wojska Polskiego in 1957).Google Scholar
  13. 23.
    See Jacek Frühling, ‘Tragiczny dziennik’ [A Tragic Diary], Nowe Książki 22 (1957): 1355–6;Google Scholar
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  15. 24.
    See Zofia Sieradzka, ‘Z Anną Frank na scenie i za kulisami’ [With Anne Frank on the Stage and behind the Scenes], Głos Pracy 88 (1967): 3.Google Scholar
  16. 25.
    Ada Kopcińska, ‘Rozpoznanie Anny’ [Anne’s Recognition] in Ada Kopcińska, I noszę, to [And I’m Carrying This] (Łódź: Wydawnictwo Łódzkie, 1965);Google Scholar
  17. Mikołaj Bieszczadowski, ‘Dom Anny Frank’ [Anne Frank’s House], in Brzegiem nadziei [On the Edge of Hope] (Warszawa: Pax, 1972);Google Scholar
  18. Krynicka’s poem dedicated to Anne Frank was printed together with a lengthy review article by Zygmunt Lichniak, ‘Pamiętnik zamordowanej nadziei’ [A Diary of the Murdered Hope], Kierunki 41 (1957): 8, 11.Google Scholar
  19. 26.
    See for example an article by the well-known journalist Monika Warneńska, ‘Kasztan na Prinsengracht’ [A Chestnut Tree at Prinsengracht], Kierunki 4 (1990): 5.Google Scholar
  20. 27.
    Adam Szostkiewicz, ‘Świat Anny Frank’ [Anne Frank’s World], Tygodnik Powszechny 10 (1997): 15.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska

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