Anne Frank Fund tries to stop musical based on her life

Legal action is now possible against Spanish producers of show, less than a month ahead of its premiere

The legal guardians of Anne Frank's memory have stepped in at the 11th hour to try to stop a controversial Spanish musical about the life of one of the Holocaust's best-known victims going ahead.

Rafael Alvero, producer of The Diary of Anne Frank: A Song to Life, which is in rehearsal for its opening in Madrid, claims he spent 10 years obtaining approval for the first song and dance version of the teenage diarist's story. But the Swiss-based Anne Frank Fund, headed by the only living member of the family, Bernard "Buddy" Elias, is demanding a halt to the show.

Christopher Knoch, a member of the fund's board, said: "The Anne Frank Fund has granted no rights for the musical by Rafael Alvero. On the contrary, we have requested him to desist from such a production." The fund could take legal action to stop the musical's premiere on 28 February.

Mr Alvero appears to have fallen foul of a long-running battle over Anne Frank's legacy. The fund holds the copyright to Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl, which has sold more than 30 million copies in 60 languages.

It also controls the rights to film and theatrical productions and guards them jealously: even Steven Spielberg was turned down when he wanted to make a film about the diarist, who hid in an Amsterdam house with her family and four other Jews during the Second World War. In 1944 they were betrayed to the Nazis and sent to the death camps. Only Otto Frank, Anne's father, survived.

Otto Frank set up two bodies to perpetuate his daughter's memory. In Amsterdam the family's hiding-place was turned into a museum, run by the Anne Frank Foundation, which also undertakes worldwide education projects on the Holocaust.

But the money from her book and all adaptations of it goes to the fund in Switzerland, where Otto Frank ended his days. This has caused tension in the past with the Amsterdam-based body, which complained that it was chronically short of funds.

A decade ago, the two organisations faced each other in a Swiss court. The fund claimed that the foundation was trespassing on its territory by copyrighting the name of Anne Frank around the world. The museum said this was necessary to stop its educational materials being plagiarised, but the Swiss body said Anne Frank's name could end up on souvenir pencils and T-shirts. The court decided in favour of the foundation, however.

Mr Alvero said he first had the idea of presenting Anne Frank's story as a musical when he visited the Anne Frank Museum with his 13-year-old son, David. He spent the next decade convincing the foundation, as well as potential backers, that such a production would be tasteful.

"I took my time to persuade the foundation, which has now seen that it is a responsible work," he said in an interview earlier this year. "We managed to convince Anne's only living relative, her cousin, Buddy Elias." He declined to comment after the broadside from Mr Elias's Anne Frank Fund, referring questions to the Anne Frank Foundation.

Jan Erik Dubbelman, of the Anne Frank Foundation in Amsterdam, said: "This production respects the message of tolerance within the tragedy that we want to keep alive."

The strong feelings aroused by the teenager's testament were emphasised last month when a chestnut tree she mentions in her diary was saved after a legal wrangle in Amsterdam. The tree, which she could glimpse from her hiding place, was due to be cut down, but will be propped up with steel beams at a cost of £35,000.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'