Newly-discovered dirty jokes found in Anne Frank's diary

Researchers using digital technology deciphered the writing on two pages of Anne Frank's diary that she had pasted over with brown masking paper, discovering four naughty jokes and a candid explanation of sex, contraception and prostitution.

"Anyone who reads the passages that have now been discovered will be unable to suppress a smile," said Frank van Vree, director of the Netherlands Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. "The 'dirty' jokes are classics among growing children. They make it clear that Anne, with all her gifts, was above all also an ordinary girl."

Anne, age 13 at the time, wrote the two pages on Sept. 28, 1942, less than three months after she, her family and another Jewish family went into hiding from the Nazis in a secret annex behind a canal-side house in Amsterdam.

Later on, possibly fearing prying eyes or no longer liking what she had written, she covered them over with brown paper with an adhesive backing like a postage stamp, and their content remained a tantalising mystery for decades.

It turns out the pages contained four jokes about sex that Anne herself described as "dirty" and an explanation of women's sexual development, sex, contraception and prostitution.

"They bring us even closer to the girl and the writer Anne Frank," Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House museum, said.

Experts on Anne's multimillion-selling diary said the newly discovered text, when studied with the rest of her journal, reveals more about her development as a writer than it does about her interest in sex.

Anne wrote candidly in other parts of her diary about her burgeoning sexuality, her anatomy and her impending period. Those passages were censored by her father before the diary was first published in 1947 but became available in more recent unabridged editions.

Leopold said the newly deciphered material provides an early example of how Anne "creates a fictional situation that makes it easier for her to address the sensitive topics that she writes about." In her diary, for example, she addressed entries to a fictional friend named Kitty.

The institutions involved in the latest research said that because of copyright issues, it is unclear whether the passages will be incorporated into new editions.

The deciphering was done by researchers from the Anne Frank museum, the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Huygens Institute of Netherlands History.

They photographed the pages, backlit by a flash, and then used image-processing software to decipher the words, which were hard to read because they were jumbled up with the writing on the reverse sides of the pages.

In the passage on sex, Anne described how a young woman gets her period around age 14, saying that it is "a sign that she is ripe to have relations with a man but one doesn't do that of course before one is married."

On prostitution, she wrote: "All men, if they are normal, go with women, women like that accost them on the street and then they go together. In Paris they have big houses for that. Papa has been there."

One of her jokes was this: "Do you know why the German Wehrmacht girls are in Holland? As mattresses for the soldiers."

She also related this joke: "A man had a very ugly wife and he didn't want to have relations with her. One evening he came home and then he saw his friend in bed with his wife, then the man said: 'He gets to and I have to!!!'"

Anne wrote her diary while she and her family hid for more than two years during World War II. The family went into hiding in July 1942 and remained there, provided with food and other essentials by a close-knit group of helpers, until Aug. 4, 1944, when they were discovered and ultimately deported to Auschwitz.

Only Anne's father, Otto Frank, survived the war. Anne and her sister died in Bergen-Belsen camp. Anne was 15.

After the war, Otto Frank had his daughter's diary published, and it went on to become a symbol of hope and resilience that has been translated into dozens of languages.

The house where the Franks hid was turned into a museum that is one of Amsterdam's most popular tourist attractions.



Andrew Morton, author of Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, hospitalised after London speaking event

Royal biographer Andrew Morton has been hospitalised after becoming unwell during a speaking engagement in London.

"He became unwell this afternoon, he's been taken to hospital as a precautionary measure," said the spokeswoman told Reuters.

Morton is best known for his biography of Princess Diana, published in 1997.

His latest book is about Prince Harry's fiance Meghan Markle - Meghan: A Hollywood Princess.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 23:  Writer Andrew Morton poses during Sant Jordi day celebrations on April 23, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. Sant Jordi is a Catalan holiday and is similiar to Valentines day, but during the day roses and books are exchanged between loved ones and collegues.  (Photo by Robert Marquardt/Getty Images)
Andrew Morton. Source: Getty

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Groundbreaking US writer Tom Wolfe dies, aged 88

Tom Wolfe, the white-suited wizard of "New Journalism" who exuberantly chronicled American culture from the Merry Pranksters through the space race before turning his satiric wit to such novels as "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and "A Man in Full," has died. He was 88.

Wolfe's literary agent, Lynn Nesbit, told The Associated Press that he died of an infection Monday in a New York City hospital. Further details were not immediately available.

An acolyte of French novelist Emile Zola and other authors of "realistic" fiction, the stylishly-attired Wolfe was an American maverick who insisted that the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it.

Along with Gay Talese, Truman Capote and Nora Ephron, he helped demonstrate that journalism could offer the kinds of literary pleasure found in books.

His hyperbolic, stylized writing work was a gleeful fusillade of exclamation points, italics and improbable words.

An ingenious phrase maker, he helped brand such expressions as "radical chic" for rich liberals' fascination with revolutionaries; and the "Me" generation, defining the self-absorbed baby boomers of the 1970s.

"He was an incredible writer," Talese told the AP on Tuesday. "And you couldn't imitate him. When people tried it was a disaster. They should have gotten a job at a butcher's shop."

Wolfe was both a literary upstart, sneering at the perceived stuffiness of the publishing establishment, and an old-school gentleman who went to the best schools and encouraged Michael Lewis and other younger writers. When attending promotional luncheons with fellow authors, he would make a point of reading their latest work.

"What I hope people know about him is that he was a sweet and generous man," Lewis, known for such books as "Moneyball" and "The Big Short," told the AP in an email Tuesday.

"Not just a great writer but a great soul. He didn't just help me to become a writer. He did it with pleasure."

Wolfe scorned the reluctance of American writers to confront social issues and warned that self-absorption and master's programs would kill the novel.

"So the doors close and the walls go up!" he wrote in his 1989 literary manifesto, "Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast."

He was astonished that no author of his generation had written a sweeping, 19th century style novel about contemporary New York City, and ended up writing one himself, "The Bonfire of the Vanities."

His work broke countless rules but was grounded in old-school journalism, in an obsessive attention to detail that began with his first reporting job and endured for decades.

"Nothing fuels the imagination more than real facts do," Wolfe told the AP in 1999. "As the saying goes, 'You can't make this stuff up.'"

Wolfe's interests were vast, but his narratives had a common theme. Whether sending up the New York art world or hanging out with acid heads, Wolfe inevitably presented man as a status-seeking animal, concerned above all about the opinion of one's peers.

Wolfe himself dressed for company - his trademark a pale three-piece suit, impossibly high shirt collar, two-tone shoes and a silk tie. And he acknowledged that he cared - very much - about his reputation.

"My contention is that status is on everybody's mind all of the time, whether they're conscious of it or not."

Author and journalist Tom Wolfe in 2016.
Author and journalist Tom Wolfe in 2016. Source: Associated Press