Librarians in Japan have discovered that hundreds copies of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl among other books about Anne Frank herself have been vandalized in libraries across Tokyo. The librarians started noticing at the start of January that the pages of over 265 books were ripped out in at least 31 libraries.
Anne Frank, who was fifteen when she died, is one of the most famous and most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust. She and her family fled to Amsterdam after Hitler and the Nazi’s gained control of Germany in 1933. They hid in concealed rooms and buildings until they were betrayed and sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944, where Frank and her sister died a year later. Frank cataloged her family’s turmoil and troubles from June 1942 through August 1944 in her diary The Diary of a Young Girl which was released and published by her father Otto Frank in 1952. The diary has received global praise since its release in 1952, and Frank has been identified as a symbol of the Holocaust, and has been regarded as the “single representative of the millions of people who suffered and died.”
Many people are curious as to why Anne Frank’s books were specifically targeted and vandalized in libraries in Japan. Although Japan and Germany were allies during World War II, anti-Semitism, or the prejudice against Jews, is not common in Japan. Several books, however, have been written and published that denied that the Holocaust even happened. The Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described the vandalism as “shameful” and said that Japan would not tolerate these types of acts. Japan itself is home to the Holocaust Education Center, a museum dedicated to the children who were victims in the Holocaust.
Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, a group based in New York fighting anti-Semitism around the world described the vandalism of Franks diary as “an act of disrespect for the memory of the millions of Jewish victims who lost their lives in the Holocaust” and said that the matter needed to be investigated by the Japanese government. The Simon Wiesenthal Center released a statement about the acts of vandalism, expressing “shock” and “deep concern” over the desecration of the hundreds of books. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, an associate Dean at the Los Angeles center, expressed his feelings towards the vandals, describing them as people “imbued with bigotry and hatred.”
Although hundreds of Anne Frank’s books have been vandalized in libraries across Tokyo, some libraries have taken charge and moved Anne Frank’s books behind the counter in order to prevent them from future targeted attacks. Yoshihide Suga announced that the government had an investigation underway to find those who vandalized the books in order to hold them accountable for their disrespectful actions. Anti-Semitism is rare in modern-day Japan – there are several hundred families living in Tokyo itself, while Israel has a fully staffed embassy located in Tokyo as well. The shameful acts done by the vandals tarnishes the memory of Frank, whose writing represents the suffering of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.
By Tyler Shibata