My Name is Anne, She Said, Anne Frank
Herinneringen van Jacqueline van Maarsen
Memoirs of a Friendship
‘My name is Anne,’ she said, ‘ Anne Frank’ – with these words, in 1941, an intense friendship began that lasted precisely one school year. After that, Anne Frank disappeared for good from Jacqueline van Maarsen’s life. Although Anne was her best friend, she kept quiet for a long time about their friendship. When, after the war, more and more people came forward saying they had been Anne’s friends, she felt it was time to come out with her own story.
On 6 July 1942, Anne disappeared, as did her diary, in which Jacqueline features as Jopie. Although Anne continued to write letters and dedicate poems to her friend while in hiding from the Germans, these never reached Jacqueline. As far as she knew, the Frank family had left for Switzerland. Meanwhile she, the daughter of a French Catholic mother and a Dutch Jewish father, was leading the life of a Jewish girl with all the problems that entailed. The half-Jewish background placed Jacqueline’s family until threat of deportation, until, in 1942, her mother recognised the danger and had her registration as a Jew reversed by the Germans. The family was saved in the nick of time and came through the war unscathed.
Although Jacqueline van Maarsen shuns the limelight and is anxious not to jump on the Anne Frank bandwagon, she has now decided to write about her relationship with Anne – in her words, to do justice to the girl in Anne Frank and put her veneration in perspective.
My name is Anne, she said, Anne Frank has, however, become more: a moving family chronicle, recorded with a sharp eye for detail. A family marked by the problems of a double identity. Jacqueline always felt she didn’t belong, not with the Jews nor with the non-Jews. But it is her strong mother who makes the deepest impression in her autobiography.
She did not believe the conciliatory stories about Jews being taken to Germany simply to work there and she made sure Jacqueline did not have to share Anne’s fate. This enabled Jacqueline, sixty years later, to write her touching memoirs to paper.