The Harvard Lampoon Releases Apology for Insensitive Anne Frank Cartoon

The humor magazine ran a cartoon sexualizing the young holocaust victim

12-year-old Anne Frank in 1941
12-year-old Anne Frank in 1941

The Harvard Lampoon has issued an apology after receiving backlash for publishing a cartoon featuring Holocaust victim Anne Frank.

The cartoon, which appeared in last Sunday’s issue, depicted Frank’s face digitally edited onto the body of bikini-clad woman, accompanied by the caption: “Gone Before Her Time: Virtual Aging Technology Shows Us What Anne Frank Would Have Looked Like if She Hadn’t Died.” In case that wasn’t already offensive enough, the cartoonist drove it home with the punchline: “Add this to your list of reasons the Holocaust sucked.”

Frank died in 1945 at the age of 15 in a Nazi concentration camp in Germany. The posthumous publication of her diary made her an important Holocaust figure.

The cartoon sparked backlash immediately, with Rabbi Jonah C. Steinberg, the director of Harvard Hillel, comparing the image to “the obscenity of the Nazis,” The New York Times reported.

The magazine, which was founded in 1876 and is one of the oldest and most respected satirical college publications that includes John Updike, Paris Review founder George Plimpton and B.J. Novak among its past members, has since issued a public apology.

“We realize the extent of offense we have inflicted and understand that we must take responsibility for our actions,” the Lampoon said in a statement. “We as individuals and we as an organization would like to apologize for our negligence in allowing this piece to be created for and printed in our latest issue. We are sorry for any harm we have caused. Furthermore, we want to both affirm and emphasize that the Lampoon condemns any and all forms of anti-Semitism.”

A petition was launched demanding individual public apologies from those involved as well as a public report “regarding how the content was published and what concrete steps will be immediately implemented  to prevent this from happening in the future.” As of Thursday morning, the petition had garnered over 500 signatures, putting it over halfway to its goal of 1,000.

The incident comes less than a month after the New York Times apologized for running an anti-semitic cartoon featuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

“Media outlets have an obligation to have measures in place which keep anti-Semitism off of their platforms,” said ADL New England Regional Director Robert Trestan in a statement to CNN.

Both the Harvard and New York Times incidents reflect what recent Anti-Defamation League data has shown to be near-record levels of anti-semitic sentiment in recent years.

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