Reception in America
A scene from the film. From left to right: Gusti Huber (Edith Frank), Lou Jacobi (Hermann van Pels), Millie Perkins (Anne Frank) and Shelley Winters (Auguste van Pels).
The 1952 publication of Anne’s diary in America begins as a cautious undertaking. Five years after it is first published in the Netherlands, Doubleday releases “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” in a modest edition of 5000 copies.
The book contains a preface written by Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who died in office in 1945. Doubleday spends next to nothing on publicity. A wildly enthusiastic review by writer Meyer Levin in the influential New York Times Book Review results in sales of the diary taking-off. A second printing of 15,000 occurs on the heels of that success and only a few days later even a third printing of 45,000 copies. The diary is reprinted repeatedly, and within no time millions of Americans have read the book.
Theatre and film
The theatrical adaption of the book, written by the husband-and-wife team of Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett was not only a huge Broadway hit, but it also received many theatrical awards including the distinguished Pulitzer Prize for theater. The filmed adaption of the play, produced and directed by George Stevens in 1959, was one of the first Hollywood productions to mention the European persecution of the Jews, although the topic was relegated to the background. The film was less of a box-office success than expected, but it did succeed in making the diary even more popular. The American actress Shelley Winters received the Oscar for “Best Supporting Actress” for her role as Mrs. Van Daan.
Horrors of the nazi regime
This was for many Americans of the Fifties an initial cautious confrontation with the horrors of the Nazi-regime, seeing this on the theatre and film. Beginning in the early 1960’s the diary became part of the American school curriculum.