Huge interest as Anne Frank poem goes up for auction

An "extremely rare" handwritten poem by Anne Frank, penned shortly before she went into hiding from the Nazis, is to be auctioned on November 23. The poem was written in the friendship book of the older sister of Frank's best friend, and is signed by
An "extremely rare" handwritten poem by Anne Frank, penned shortly before she went into hiding from the Nazis, is to be auctioned on November 23. The poem was written in the friendship book of the older sister of Frank's best friend, and is signed by the Jewish teenager and dated March 28, 1942, auctioneers Bubb Kuyper said. PHOTO: AFP

HAARLEM, NETHERLANDS (AFP) - A very rare handwritten poem by Jewish diarist Anne Frank goes under the auctioneer's hammer on Wednesday, amid a flurry of interest which may push the price well above the 30,000 euros (S$45,397) reserve.

"These things are so rare that I've never seen anything like it," said Thys Blankevoort, co-director of the Bubb Kuyper auction house based in the western Dutch town of Haarlem.

"Any document that's written by Anne Frank is rare," he told AFP on Monday, adding only about four or five items signed by her had come to light in the past 40 years.

"There are some chance finds, some books from the libraries. But these are not manuscripts, they are owner entries," he added, referring to books which have been found with Frank's name written inside.

Dedicated to "Dear Cri-cri", the poem, written in Dutch in black ink on a notebook-size piece of white paper which has slightly discoloured with age, is signed "in memory, from Anne Frank". Frank wrote the 12-line text, dated March 28, 1942, in a friendship book belonging to the older sister of her best friend only three months before she and her family went into hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam.

"The Diary Of A Young Girl", which Frank penned while in hiding from June 1942 to August 1944 has sold more than 30 million copies in 67 languages.

She died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in early 1945 less than a year after the Nazis captured her and just before the end of World War II.

A reserve price of 30,000 euros has been put on the text, but the auctioneer said while it could go up to 50,000 euros, it was impossible to say what it would finally sell for as once museums and institutes became involved bidding could become "totally unpredictable". "It might go higher," Blankevoort said, adding there had been a lot of interest from both private collectors and museums.

"Historical documents by famous people are really sought after. That's a separate niche in the market that's quite buoyant." The poem is being sold by Jacqueline van Maarsen, Frank's primary school friend, who over the years has worked to keep her pal's story alive. Frank also wrote a poem in Jacqueline's book, but she is too attached to it to sell it, Blankevoort said.

While the first four lines of the text are well-known among such poems "written by girls, for girls", the auction house has so far not traced the origins of the final four lines.

The second half might possibly even be composed by Frank, Blankevoort acknowledged. It follows the vein of such poems which often contained a moral about love and friendship, calling on girls to work hard and be diligent.

A series of letters between Frank and her sister Margot with American penpals sold for US$165,000 (S$235,049) in 1988. And a 1925 edition of Grimm's fairy tales, with both girls' names written on the title page, went for US$62,500 in May in a New York auction - fetching twice the estimated price.