Memior Disputes Ann Frank’s Account


ann-frankFrail, cold and surrounded by death, the Jewish teenager Anne Frank did her best to distract younger children from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp by telling them fairy tales, a survivor of the camp says.But her account is disputed by a childhood friend of Anne Frank’s.

In a book to be published in Dutch this month, Berthe Meijer, 71, who survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, offers a rare glimpse of Ms. Frank in the final weeks of her life, struggling to keep up her own spirits while trying to lift the morale of the smaller children at the camp.

Anne’s gift for storytelling was already evident from the diary she kept during two years in hiding with her family in Amsterdam. But Ms. Meijer’s memoir is the first to mention Anne’s talent for spinning tales even in the despair of the camp.

The memoir deals with the girls’ brief acquaintance in only a few pages. But Ms. Meijer said she titled her book “Life After Anne Frank” because it continued the tale of Holocaust victims where the teenager’s famous diary left off.

While a spokeswoman for the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam said she had no reason to doubt Ms. Meijer’s account, a childhood friend of Anne’s, Hannah Pick-Goslar, who was also in Bergen-Belsen, said she did not think it was accurate.

“In that condition, you almost died,” she said by telephone from her home in Yerushalayim. “You had no strength to tell stories.”

{NY Times/Noam Newscenter}