News / Asia

Japanese Authorities, Jewish Scholars Condemn Desecration of Anne Frank’s Diaries

A ripped copy of Anne Frank's "Diary of a Young Girl" picture book is shown by Shinjuku City Library Director Kotaro Fujimaki at the library in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 21, 2014.
A ripped copy of Anne Frank's "Diary of a Young Girl" picture book is shown by Shinjuku City Library Director Kotaro Fujimaki at the library in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 21, 2014.
Sarah Williams
Japanese authorities are looking for suspects responsible for defacing almost 300 copies of books by and about Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who’s famous Diary is considered one of the best-known testimonies about the Holocaust.

News of pages being torn from the books in 31 public libraries in Tokyo has left Jewish scholars shocked.    

“We know that there are scores of libraries and at least hundreds and maybe more copies of the diary of Anne Frank and other books that deal with Anne Frank, that have been vandalized, ripped apart, desecrated,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

Frank ’s Diary of a Young Girl  was written in World War Two by the Jewish teenager as she lived in hiding with her family in Amsterdam, then occupied by Nazi Germany.

The family was discovered and sent to concentration camps.  Anne died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen in 1945.  Her father Otto was the only member of the immediate family to survive the war.  He published Anne’s diary in 1947 and it has sold millions of copies, becoming a symbol of the Holocaust.

The Wiesenthal Center issued a statement expressing its concern about the book’s destruction in libraries in the Tokyo area.

“Obviously, you’re not talking about one or two incidents, you’re talking about a wide geographic location, and we’re talking about some sort of organized effort,” Cooper said.

Cooper is a frequent visitor to Japan, and after the news of the vandalizing broke, he contacted a member of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s staff to air his organization’s concerns.

Cooper said the recent defacing campaign emerged earlier this month when Tokyo librarians noticed that numerous copies of the diary were damaged.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga condemned the destruction of the books.

Rotem Kowner, professor of Japanese history and culture at the University of Haifa in Israel, said Diary of a Young Girl has been popular in Japan since its publication there in 1952. 

“The popularity has not dwindled during all those years, I think by now more than five million copies have been sold, so this is probably one of the most popular books for youth in Japan throughout the postwar years,” Kowner said.

The development also comes at a time when tensions concerning atrocities committed by Japan during World War Two have risen, with critics in China and South Korea calling on Tokyo to do more to atone for its past.  

Abe recently visited the Yasukuni Shrine, a monument to the country’s war dead that also includes the remains of 14 convicted war criminals, an action that caused immediate condemnation from Bejing and Seoul.

“There is a huge internal debate and struggle within Japan, and of course across Asia, of coming to grips with what happened in the era of Imperial Japan and the atrocities that took place in Asia, and the current tensions between China and Japan,” Cooper said.

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Comment Sorting
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
February 26, 2014 9:11 PM
I think this incident has nothing to do with Abe's visit to Yasukuni shrine because destruction was disclosed to have been conducted before his visit in late last year. It is true Anne's diary has been very popular in Japan as it is shown in school textbooks.
I guess this crime was conducted by an individual suffering some psychiatric disorder. Defacing and ripping away manners are too childish to consider this issue as having some political background.
In Response

by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
February 27, 2014 9:51 AM
You may know the fundamental law: Inevitability involves contingency. Inevitability consists of contingencies. Japanese desecration of Anne Frank’s Diaries, this might be individual conservative contingency. How do You plead a range of conservative contingencies have occurred in Japan:

Abe worshiping WWII war criminals in the Yasukuni Shrine,Japanese government denying sex slaves in WWII.and denying Nanjing massacre.having territory conflicts with every neighbors .now destroying wwII history books…..MR.Yoshi,I want to ask you: why was Germeny accepted by his neighbor countries?why can’t Japan be accepted by the neighbor countries?

The linchpin is that hypocritic Japanese are lack of sincere desire.Japanese get use to saying one thing and doing another.
Don't play fraud with all people.

February 26, 2014 5:28 PM
People in the world often misunderstands that most of the Japanese are nationalist and supporting such a shameful doing.
Almost all the Japanese are disappointed this event and feel sorry to it.
But person tearing book isn't identified as Japanese yet.
We are more considering that tearing book doesn't make benefit to Japan and Japanese completery but nearby countries disliking Japan.
I hope all the people in the world gets to know there is a complicated situation.
Particuraly, to tell that such a worst doing are our Japanese's hope is completely wrong.
Japan doesn't have tendency to right wing on the whole.
It is a great pity for me that a part of Chinese and Korean say it's all Japanese will ! It's misleading world people. Please don't say such a terrible propaganda.

by: Jonathan huang from: canada
February 26, 2014 1:46 PM
worshiping wwii war criminals,
eating dolphins,
denying sex slaves in wwii
denying Nanjing massacre
having territory conflicts with every neighbors
now destroying wwii history books
So what is really in Japans mind?

by: Qing ChunHua
February 26, 2014 1:05 PM
"Japan Red Army" is the most famous anti-judea group in Japan and left-wing terrorist. please google "Lod Airport massacre" and "Japan Red Army".

by: Taichi Robinhood
February 25, 2014 6:51 PM
The international community should be alert to the Japanese militarism who will revenge the Americans for dropping two A-bombs to the Japanese during W W II.

by: shimpei from: NL
February 25, 2014 4:56 PM
no one cares
In Response

by: neznaika
February 26, 2014 3:51 PM
Notice, those who devides people by etnic groups considers their own group as the highest.
It seems to me, Japanese are peacefull people. Otherwise, it would be a disappointment.

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