Anne Frank Diary Controversy

The Anne Frank Center in New York has joined the mounting national protest against a Federal court ruling that upheld the right of a group of Christian fundamentalist parents in Greenville, TN to keep their children out of the local public school when “The Diary of Anne Frank” was read in classrooms as part of the curriculum.

The decision by Judge Thomas Hull on October 24 that the parents had the right to protect their children from what they consider “Godless” influences and teach them to read at home, shocked academic, legal, publishing and religious circles all over the country.

“The Diary of Anne Frank” was found objectionable by the parents because it stresses humanitarian values and deems all religions to be of equal value, an anathema to the religious right.

At a press conference, Johanna Reiss, author of The Upstairs Room, a book about her own experiences as a Jewish child hiding in Holland during the war, said, “I wonder if our children are not supposed to know there really was a World War II.” She said her book has been removed from libraries in the South.

The Center, which will appeal the decision, is coordinating the U.S. tour of the international exhibit, “Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945.” The exhibit, which opened in New York in 1985, has already been shown in Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Des Moines, Tulsa, and Cleveland. Twelve more cities are on the list for 1987. The exhibit provides a glimpse into the life of Anne Frank and her family before and during their hiding from the Nazis in a small attic in Amsterdam. It also documents events leading to the Nazis’ rise to power, as well as conditions in occupied Holland during the war.

The remarkable story is told through some 800 photographs (including some previously unpublished), many of which have been secured from private collections and from Dutch and German archives through the efforts of the Anne Frank Center in Amsterdam, sponsors of the exhibition. The exhibit also includes archival documents, a video documentary and a model of the secret annex used by the Frank family.