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New Anne Frank play ignores her Jewish identity

The play is set in modern times and makes no mention of the Nazis or the fact that they murdered the teenager

    The bookcase at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam which concealed the apartment where Anne's family and others were hidden. Copyright: Anne Frank House / Photographer: Cris Toala Olivares
    The bookcase at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam which concealed the apartment where Anne's family and others were hidden. Copyright: Anne Frank House / Photographer: Cris Toala Olivares

    A Dutch play about Anne Frank makes no mention of her Jewish identity.

    The play is set in modern times and makes no mention of the Nazis or the fact that they murdered the teenager.

    It also features an assault allegation against Fritz Pfeffer, the Jewish dentist who hid with her and her family.

    In the play Mr Pfeffer is accused of assaulting Margot Frank, Anne Frank’s sister.

    Mr Pfeffer died in the Holocaust.

    Esther Voet, the editor-in-chief of the Dutch-Jewish weekly NIW and a former leader of the CIDI watchdog on antisemitism, said the play was “an unscrupulous falsification of history”.

    In a damning article published on Friday, she wrote:  “That pesky historical context, the one about the persecution of the Jews, that had to be done away with already.”

    The play, Achter het Huis (Behind the House), was written and directed by Ilja Pfeijffer, and is due to open next weekend in Holland.

    Ms Voet said the director “pressed his fat thumb” on Mr Pfeffer and “made him guilty of an act of violence. Presto: Drama!”

    She added it was “abjectly tasteless,” and the “latest expression of abuse of Anne Frank’s memory”.

    Mr Pfeijffer defended his play:  “The diary itself contains no drama,” he said.

    “What actually happens in the secret annex, seen through the eyes of a 13-year-old is a bit lean for a theatre show.”

    David Barnouw, author of The Anne Frank Phenomenon, told JTA that he “did not like the play because it was over the top”.

    But Mr Barnouw, who saw a dress rehearsal last week, said he did not agree with all of Ms Voet’s criticisms.

    Artists should have the freedom or creative licence including with historical truth, he said

    “The audience needs to decide whether this is acceptable, and no one else,” he said.

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