Handwritten Anne Frank poem sells at auction for £119,000
by Harriet Sherwood
Auction of 12-line text in Dutch from 1942, a rare example of the young Jewish girl’s handwriting for sale, took just two minutes
Thijs Blankevoort, director of the Bubb Kuyper auction house, displays the handwritten Anne Frank poem Photograph: Koen Suyk/EPA
A handwritten poem by Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who kept a diary of two years spent in hiding from the Nazis, has sold at auction for €140,000 (£119,000), more than four times its reserve price.
The sale, to an unnamed online bidder, took just two minutes at the Bubb Kuyper auction house in the Dutch city of Haarlem.
The text was a rare example of Anne’s handwriting for sale. “Over the last 40 years, only four or five documents signed by the teenager have gone under the hammer,” Thijs Blankevoort, the auction house’s co-director, said.
The text in Dutch was dated 28 March 1942, three months before Anne and her family went into hiding in Amsterdam.
The poem, written in black ink on a notebook-sized piece of white paper that has slightly discoloured with age, was addressed “Dear Cri-cri,” and signed “In memory, from Anne Frank.”
About 20 collectors were present in the sales room at the auction house, with others bidding by telephone and online. The reserve price was set at €30,000.
In 1988, a series of letters between Anne, her older sister Margot and American pen pals sold for $165,000 (£133,000). In May, a 1925 edition of Grimm’s fairy tales with both girls’ names written on the title page fetched $50,000 – twice the estimated price – in New York.
Anne was born in Frankfurt in 1929, four years before Hitler came to power in Germany. With the rise of the Nazis, her family fled to Amsterdam, where her father Otto established a business and Anne and Margot attended school.
But the family came under threat again when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands in 1940. Jews faced curfews, were forbidden from owning a business and were forced to wear a yellow star. Children could only attend Jewish schools.
In July 1942, Margot was ordered to report for relocation to a work camp, forcing the family into hiding in a secret annexe above the offices of Otto’s business, ownership of which he had transferred to a friend.
A month before they hid, Otto had given Anne an autograph book bound with white-and-red-checked cloth and closed with a small lock for her 13th birthday. It was in this book Anne wrote her legendary diary, starting each entry “Dear Kitty”.
For two years, she wrote about life – fear, boredom, confusion – in confinement. In August 1944, the family were discovered and sent to concentration camps. Anne and Margot died of typhus in February 1945, a few weeks before the camp was liberated by the British army.
Anne’s diary was kept safe by a family friend and later returned to Otto, who survived the camps. In 1947, he published The Diary of a Young Girl, which has since sold more than 30m copies in 67 languages.
Anne’s diary is used to teach schoolchildren around the world about the Holocaust. The original is on display in Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, which attracted about 1.2 million visitors last year.