The Roommate of Anne Frank
Van Der Zee re-creates the life story of Fritz Pfeffer, a German born Jewish dentist, who under the name of 'Dussel' -- which means 'day-dreamer' or even 'dullard' -- prominently appears in the diary of Anne Frank. In Het Achterhuis, Anne Frank describes this man, who was her roommate in hiding for almost two years, as a narrow minded, irritating and gloomy figure. This material, including Pfeffer's last letter to Kaletta, his lover, dated 15 November 1942, came into the hands of the well-known Dutch historian Nanda van der Zee. With the help of Pfeffer's son, who gave her a wealth of unpublished photographs, as well as friends and acquaintances of Kaletta and Pfeffer from Germany, Holland, Belgium and South Africa and the Pfeffer archives of the Anne Frank Foundation, she re-created the story of his life. This book, which was published in the Netherlands in 1990, is the merit of Nanda van der Zee that she corrects the image that Anne Frank gave of Pfeffer and in essence rehabilitates him. He emerges as an affectionate man and a caring, warm lover. This new image proves to be a correction to the 'Diary' and may alter some of the hagiography surrounding Anne Frank. The testimony this book provides will penetrate deeper than a more empirical, historical account. It is a valuable supplement to the 'Diary'. The most significant value however lies in the author's underlying message: that war has a total, senseless and destructive effect on everybody.
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