OCTOBER 15, 1955
ST. PAUL, Minn.—Before I took off on this trip I saw earlier in the week, a most remarkable play, "The Diary of Anne Frank." This was adapted from the book of the same name—a book that could be read the world over with pleasure and profit because it describes man's inhumanity to man in the words of a child. The play brings the message home even more keenly because it is so dramatically done.
There is humor in this play; there is tenderness and love; there is hate, and human frailty is not hidden.
Susan Strasberg's acting is superb. I can think of no one who could do the part of Anne better than she does. Anne was an exasperating child, completely normal in many ways, wanting fun and noise and action. Yet, in other ways she was so sensitive, so thoughtful and so conscious of her own personality that she must have been the most trying child to her elders.
From Joseph Schildkraut we have come to expect an outstanding performance in his every appearance and this play is no exception.
The humor, the gentleness, the patience, the courage which lead to to that last wonderful line, "We have been living here in fear, now we can live in hope," are all so naturally portrayed that it is hard not to feel the actor is not really Mr. Frank.
Would we all have had courage to approach such moments in the way Mr. Frank did!
Then there is his courage, when the personal trials are over, to accept the death of a dearly loved wife and daughter and pick up the pieces of life and still go on. This seems to me an almost incredible strength of character.
I have marveled at Mr. Frank in real life and the highest tribute I can pay the actor is that I think he has portrayed a remarkable character convincingly and with deep insight.
Every member of the cast is good, and at many points I laughed and enjoyed myself. But as I left the theatre my heart was heavy, for I realized that people had actually lived through these scenes—and can we say with absolute assurance that they will never live through them again?
I think we can say that the conscience of human beings was greatly awakened by what happened to people before and during World War II but was it enough to keep us from ever permitting ourselves or our neighbors to indulge in hate of our brother now?
Do we understand, at last, that freedom must be universal and that all men must be assured that there will be respect for the individual human being, regardless of his race, his creed or his color?
Without that assurance we have practically no certainty that for one reason or another Anne Frank's Diary might not be written again by some little girl in the future.
I hope this play will be very successful and have a long run, for I am sure it will bring to many people a greater understanding of the things that must never happen again anywhere in the world.