I found out on the Fox News Channel website today that the Culpeper County Public Schools in Virginia have pulled Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition from its library shelves and stopped using it in its eighth grade English honor courses. An alternate version of the book is being used instead. Jim Allen, director of instruction for the Culpeper school system pulled it after one parent voiced a complaint about the contents of the book.
Anne Frank is the most famous victim of the Holocaust. She kept her diary from 1942 to 1944 when she and her family hid in the secret annex above the offices of her father’s business. The family was betrayed in 1944 and deported first to Westerbork then to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen in March of 1945 from typhus at 16 years of age after being deported there from Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her father survived Auschwitz and found Anne’s diary after the war. It was first published in 1947. The definitive edition was published in 1995. 30% of the diary was cut when the diary was first published per her Father’s request. The word vagina and other sexual references were in the parts that were cut. They have been included in the definitive version and comprise roughly half a page.
It is this half page that has one ignorant parent offended. No doubt this parent is a Christian fundamentalist that isn’t fond of learning or culture. Why would Allen listen to this one person? Why do the other parents or students not have a vote on this matter? In my opinion this book should be required reading. It was written by an innocent teenage girl who died in the Holocaust. She wrote for a lost generation. Who knows how many doctors, scientists, and other great people were murdered during those years?
This act of censorship insults the memory of every person murdered during the Holocaust and every person who survived. Anne Frank is their voice. Her diary also serves as proof that these awful events happened. We need every bit of evidence to prove that the Holocaust happened when there are more Holocaust deniers than ever. The survivors are rapidly dying and soon there will be no one left to personally attest to the horrors that happened between 1933 and 1945.
This is even more insulting as the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Red Army was commemorated on 1-27-10. Why must we have to contend with more hate, intolerance and censorship? Have we learned nothing? The Nazis began their evil reign by burning books by authors they didn’t approve of. Heinrich Heine once remarked that they that start by burning books will end by burning men in his play Almansor in 1821.
We must not allow or tolerate censorship and a degradation of our education.