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Diary of Anne Frank: What Her Journal Dirty Jokes Teach About Layered Content

Anne Frank became a trending topic earlier this month when “dirty jokes” were found within the pages of her historic diary.

More than 70 years after it was first published by her father, Anne Frank’s diary is still revered as one of the most intriguing memoir accounts recorded during the 1940s. Written from the perspective of a 13-year-old girl hiding from the Nazis with her family, the content of her diary provides an honest perspective of that turbulent period of history that is not highlighted within today’s history textbooks and other educational resources.

The fact that Anne Frank is still being studied in classrooms today speaks volumes about the lasting value of the content she created in the years leading up to her death in 1945. The recently confirmed existence of additional content found within the diary presents a profound lesson in the art of layered content. How so?

Image by yanugkelid via Bigstock

There is Always More to the Story

The phrase “The End” really should never be used within high-quality content simply because there is always more to the story. In most cases, this principle is proven within the context of cinema – especially when you consider the growing number of reboots, remakes, prequels, sequels and spin-offs that have filled theater screens within the past decade. However, Anne Frank inadvertently proved that the same principle applies to content overall.

Perhaps she covered these pages to add a little mystery into the mix – giving the people who she knew may read it later have to do a little digging to discover what was hiding underneath it. Keep in mind that she could have just ripped those pages out or tried to mark out the writing if she wanted to destroy the content. In addition, it was not like those were the only pages with references to such mature topics as menstruation and sexual education. It is almost as if Anne Frank wrote her diary with strategically placed loose threads – threads that she knew anyone reading her work may possibly tug to unearth more content (including references to infidelity and menstruation.)

As you create your own quality content, what steps are you taking to insert “loose threads” of your own? Remember: A key element of effective content for SEO purposes is the two-way street of questions. What questions does your content answer and what questions will your content ask?

The Power of Authorial Transparency

Another profound lesson learned from the “dirty jokes” and recently discovered content within Anne Frank’s diary is that of authorial transparency.

When writing content – especially about yourself or your brand – there are two roads on which you can travel: transparent honesty or fabricated fiction.

  • Transparent honesty allows you to be 100% honest with your readers. Whatever you do decide to share is absolute truth without any creative liberties and excessive enhancements to make the content more “appealing” or captivating.


  • Fabricated fiction is a great read when used in fiction. Nevertheless, too many memoirs and other types of personal content have been contaminated with fabrication. Perhaps the author wanted to make their lives seem more glamorous or gritty than it was in real life to captivate the attention of their readers, agents and Hollywood executives. By taking the “leap of fabrication”, however, they sacrifice their honesty, integrity and dignity along the way.


Anne Frank could have easily created a heavily-fabricated diary that was filled with exaggerations, overstatements and unsolicited creative liberties. She took the road less traveled in this regard by choosing transparent honesty over fabricated fiction – a decision that led to the ever-glowing spotlight that has focused on her diary for decades.

Frank van Vree (director of War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies for the Netherlands Institute) stated that the recently deciphered passages from Anne Frank’s diary “make it clear that Anne…was above all also an ordinary girl” – a conclusion that may have not been as clear with passages full of fabricated fiction.

When creating content for your own brand, business or even your personal bio, you must make it clear to your audience that you have selected the same path of transparent honesty previously selected by Anne Frank herself. Otherwise, you risk tarnishing the reputation of your brand and dissolving the cornerstones of integrity and respect upon which your brand is built in the eyes of your audience.

You Can Always Add a Touch of Humor

Honest and transparent content does not need to be 100% serious from cover to cover or start to finish. The fact that Anne Frank added humorous jokes to the pages of her diary proved that she was able to find, enjoy and express humor during a turbulent situation. When creating quality content, it is vital to consider the emotional fluctuation of your audience. Does your content allow your readers and viewers to ride an emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows? Regardless of your subject matter, it is highly recommended to add moderate doses of humor to season the content and keep them engaged without forcing them to disconnect from it.

If it is excessively upbeat and happy, you may lose your audience when you must get back to a serious subject or tone since they would have become a little too comfortable with the funny side and expected it to continue. On the other hand, if you are excessively serious and sad, then your readers may become too downhearted and want to disconnect from your content to preserve their own emotional stability.

If Anne Frank can add jokes about infidelity, promiscuity and prostitution into a diary studied and revered for decades as a historical treasure chest, then you can add a little humor to your content to keep your audience riding that “rollercoaster.”

How to Protect Your Privacy with Transparent Content

With the increasing awareness of privacy protection in today’s digital age, it is understandable why the privacy factor emerged within the conversation of Anne Frank’s diary. As mentioned above, Anne chose to hide her “mature” content instead of destroying it. Throughout her writings, she did express a concern about others reading her private thoughts, but she still made sure that they were included within her diary.

This highlights the importance of privacy protection within your own content. There is a thin line that separates moderate from excessive on the scales of transparency. You must keep in mind that whatever you post or publish online becomes public information. Even if your “privacy settings” only allow a specific group of people to view it, that does not mean very much in today’s world of screenshots, Snapchats and social media.

It is imperative to find a proper balance when it comes to the content you choose to share. You can still maintain full transparency by being open and honest about everything that you post. However, this does not mean that you need to post everything – especially if it is private and sensitive information to which you do not want to give the rest of the world open access.


Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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