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June 08, 1979 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-06-08

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2 Friday, June 8, 1919 ,


Purely Commentary

Meyer Levin's Anne Frank Drama:
Seeking Justice fo Abused Author

Anne Frank would have been 50 on June 12. This
anniversary date will be the occasion for reconstructing the
drama of her life.
Much will be said and written about the young girl who
so brilliantly described the experience of being in hiding
from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic for two years.
The hiding place is being visited by many tens of
thousands and more will be attracted to the historic place of
the Frank family's hiding in Amsterdam.
"The Anne Frank Diary" will undoubtedly be re-
enacted in scores of cities and attention will be leveled on
the play drawn from the diary that was found in the attic
after the liberation of Holland from the Nazis.
Now new attention will be given to the case of charged
plagiarism in the production of the Anne Frank drama. The
original play was written by the eminent author and
novelist, Meyer Levin, whose documentary films and his-
torical analyses of the resettlement of Jewish DPs in Israel
after World War II have added immensely to the records
regarding the Jewish state's role in the effort of rescuing
and rebuilding the lives of survivors from Nazism.
Meyer Levin's text was
rejected by Otto Frank, An-
ne's father and only surviv-
ing member of the family,
and the task was turned
over to Lillian Hellman.
Levin charged
plagiarism. He accused, and
still does, the perpetrators
of fostering prejudices, of
having played down the
Jewish aspect of the Anne
Frank Diary.
Lillian Hellman is espe-
cially blamed. So are those
who worked with her. So is
Otto Frank, to whom Levin
now appeals to correct the
injustice that was perpet-
rated against him.
He had started a law suit and won a $25,000 verdict
when the case reached the New York State Supreme Court.
On the occasion of Anne Frank's 50th birthday and the
revival of interest in the drama, Meyer Levin re-opens the
A number of the most eminent authors backed him up
in his case against the producers of the drama which, as he
claimed, distorted his own text.
He prepared a memo on the case in which he asserts
While admiring Miss Hellman's brave stand
against McCarthyism, Levin seeks the same free-
dom from ideological blacklisting for himself. As
to the charge that his play was "unstageworthy,"
it took 14 years before an "unauthorized" produc-
tion could give the work a hearing, whereupon it
was pronounced by Tel Aviv critics to be superior
in every way, theatrically, as well as for depth of
characterization, quality, and faithfulness, to the
Broadway work, written under Miss Hellm
tutelage by her Hollywood friends, Albert and
Frances Hackett. •
In the meantime, since the Broadway version
duplicated the stage methods of his supposedly
unstageworthy work, Levin had won a lawsuit in
the New York State Supreme Court for "appro-
priation of ideas," a form of plagiarism. This was
the only time in history, he points out, that a
Pulitzer Prize work, the Broadway play, was con-
victed by a jury of being substantially taken from
the work of another writer. During the trial, Levin
discloses, he was subjected to a campaign of tele-
phoned death threats that drove his wife to hys-
teria and a suicide attempt.
The amazing plagiarism verdict was hushed up
and is forgotten. "Rather naively," says the
author, "despite the combined influence of a
major film company, a dominant Broadway pro-
ducer and a most powerful law firm, I was as-
tonished at the total hushup of what, elsewhere,
would have constituted a tremendous literary
scandal." One may imagine the impact of such a
verdict against a Prix Goncourt winner in France!
Conceding that the Broadway play, "even as it
is," moves people because of the situation itself,
Levin points out that he ha's never tried to inter-
fere- with its production, asking only that those
who wish to see his own version should have that
right. Petitions to that effect have been signed by
hundreds of authors, libertarians and by noted
concentration camp survivors — by Nobel Prize
laureates Albert Camus and I.B. Singer, by Nor-
man Mailer, I.F. Stone, Elie Wiesel, Bruno Bet-
telheim, Simon Wiesenthal.

The Anniversary of the Birth of Anne Frank and Meyer
Levin's Justified Grievance ... Allen Warsen's Pioneering
in Creating Historical Society ... Klutznick Visit for JNF

All were ignored, Levin says. And meanwhile
the enemy literary clique has vengefully denig-
rated his entire writing career, spread character
assassination tales and stigmatized him as
"paranoic" — off to an insane asylum with that
Jewish dissident!
But the issues are clear:
The right of a deceased author to be faithfully
The right of a people to use the cultural material
born of its history.
Isn't it too late? The Diary is a work of perma-
nent nature, he points out, and widely performed
in schools. The ban on his work can easily be
lifted, by the consent of a few individuals and
corporations who have earned fortunes, in con-
siderable measure due to that work.
"I am told I should be satisfied with having pro-
ved my case in court and on the stage. But I am
also told that what I wrote is a work of permanent
worth in the theater and cannot be allowed to
remain suppressed."
As to being the last romantic, the last one-man
fighter, Levin says, "Many writers have suffered
in dimensions far beyond my experience, in the
fight for freedom of expression. To turn from this
cause would be to turn away from them, and from
society itself." And from the truth of Anne Frank.
What he asks now is that his play receive the recogni-
tion he maintains it merited at the outset. It was produced
his way only in Israel. He wants a rejection of Lillian
Hellman's contentions, an atoning by Otto Frank, recogni-
tion in the theater with an acceptance of his text as the
more representative of the Dairy.
His case is well stated and the proof he provides for his
contentions was already affirmed in the high court of the
state of New York. Let there be justice for Meyer Levin. It
will mean justice also for Anne Frank.

Historical Society Anniversary:
Allen Warsen's Leadership

Anniversaries assume significance when the per-
sonalities involved register accomplishments.
Greater Detroit's Jewish community marks an in-
teresting event in the observance of the 20th anniversary of
the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan. Its members
have participated in celebrating historic events. Many
have their roles in conducting research into important
occurrences and many have written about them.
It is notable that the for-
mation of the Jewish His-
torical Society of Michigan
was first suggested in a let-
ter published in these col-
umns. Allen Warsen, who
five years later became the
first president of the society,
urged the formation of such
a group and movement in
his letter of 1954.
It is important to register,
in the ranks of the creators
of the movement, a dedi-
cated group that included
Irving Katz, Rabbi
Emanuel Applebaum, Prof.
Leonard Moss and the late
Frank Barcus. The latter
was an especially creative person. An artist, an illustrator
who often excelled as a caricaturist, he had great devotion
in his desire to advance educational activities,•and he did
much of that through the Jewish Historical Society of
Michigan. Leonard N. Simons was helpful in many ways.
The more recent presidents of the society would form an
addendum to a Who's Who of the society.
Many identified Detroiters have shown a concerned
interest in historical matters by enrolling in the society,
and the identification of people like U.S. Senator Carl Le-
vin, who will address the anniversary celebration, em-
phasizes the progress the group has made in two decades of
The role of Allen Warsen is unique. He is untiring and
the many achievements to his credit will fascinate all who
are interested in retaining historical records. It is thanks to
his personal endeavors that the following have been at-
• Jewish Historical Society of Michigan
founded in 1959.
• The periodical "Michigan Jewish History"
founded in 1960.
• Ezekiel Solomon monument constructed at
Fort Michimilimackinac in 1964.
• Jewish archives at Detroit Public Library's
Burton Historical Collection founded.
• Discovered in 1969 the existence of a 40-
member Jewish community in Detroit in 1850.
• Roadside marker placed in 1971 on Lafayette

By Philip

commemorating Michigan's oldest Jewish cemet-
ery, Beth El.
• Memorial to Michigan's first Jewish histo-
rian, David Emil Heineman, established at the De-
troit Historical Museum in 1972.
• Historic tablet placed at Bonstelle Theater on
Woodward in 1975 commemorating the building
as the former Temple Beth El designed by ar-
chitect Albert Kahn.
• Plaque placed in the library of the Jewish –
Community Center in West Bloomfield com-
memorating the first known Jewish resident of -
Detroit, Chapman Abraham.
Allen Warsen has a good record as a scholar and it
keeps showing its effects in his book reviews in these col-
In honoring the Detroit Historical Society, the Jewish
community honors the movement's pioneers, and Allen
Warsen has a pioneering role in their ranks.

Klutznick in a World Role,
Coming for JNF Evening, Noting
Jackier Family Identifications

Philip M. Klutznick genuinely earns_the title of top
leader in world Jewish ranks. That designation surely ac-
companies the presidency of the World Jewish Congress.
Whoever would succeed Dr. Nahum Goldmann, whO,
in turn, succeeded Dr. Stephen S. Wise, to leadership in the
World Jewish Congress, at once inherits the mantle of
global Jewish leadership. This is now the role of the man
who had his initiation into Jewish leadership ii the Bnai
Brith youth movement, who headed the international Bnai
Brith, was active in the administrations of several
Presidents and was a U.S. delegate to the United Nations.
He wore many hats, all
with great dignity. He has
not bowed to predominant
views and is to this day
unquestionably among
those who differ with lead-
when they have
- views of their own. In this
respect he is a true fol-
lower of Nahum
Goldmann. He challenges
and offers opinions even if
they are not popular.
His visit here for the
annual dinner of the
Jewish National Fund,
therefore, provides an
opportunity for this com-
munity to become re-acquainted with the man who had
exerted his influence upon many Detroiters when he was
the head of the Bnai Brith. Many remember the inspiration
he provided at that time.
The uniqueness of his participation in the JNF event is
the popularity of the family to be honored. The honorees,
Edythe and Joseph Jackier, are activists in many respects
— he presently is head of the United Jewish Charities, she
is the former head of the Jewish Social Service Bureau and
the Women's Division of the Allied Jewish Campaign and
the Jewish Welfare Federation.
Their selection for JNF honors really can be shared by
their children. The son, Lawrence, leads United Jewish
Appeal missions to Israel and is a volunteer of high rank
since he lectures for UJA in many communities. Lawr-
ence's wife, Shelly, makes a notable contribution to Greater
Detroit's involvements in services for Israel as the or-
ganizer of the Israel Information and Resource Ce
which functions at the Jewish Community Center.
The Klutznick visit, the people to be honored by J
combine to provide pride in an important communal func-

I.F. Stone: Rooted in Misrepresentation

I.F. Stone at one time was an advoacte of Zionism and
was a lecturer for the cause. Now he is the darling of the
PLO whose aim is the destruction of the fruits of Zionism.
That his new glory is attained on a road of misrepresenta-
tion becomes evident as he remains a tool of those who seek
Israel's demise.
Else, how could he fail to take into account, while
mouthing cliches about Palestinians, that Jews also were
Palestinians as citizens of pre-Israel Palestine? Why does
he fail to credit Israel's leaders with a determination to
negotiate for autonomy with the Arabs on the West Bank in
Samaria and Judea? How dare he equate Menahem Begin
with the PLO, failing to concede that Begin was a freedom
fighter because his battles were only with the British while
the PLO's heroism is against children and women?
Was there ever an instance of a Jewish freedom fighter
throwing a bomb into a supermarket to kill women shop-
pers? Such murderers are now the darlings of I.S. Stonr.
Rabbi Irwin Groner of Cong. Shaarey Zedek was right in
excoriating those who gave him a platform. You don't dig-
nify and abomination.

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