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Harvard Lampoon apologizes for sexualized Anne Frank photo with bikini

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Israel stood still as a two-minute siren across the country played in remembrance of the Holocaust.
USA TODAY

Harvard’s satire magazine has apologized for publishing a doctored image of Anne Frank after outraged students said the image improperly sexualized the teen Holocaust victim and contained anti-Semitic themes.

The Harvard Lampoon posted an apology on its website after their latest issue included an image of Anne Frank’s face edited onto a bikini-clad woman’s body.

A headline above the image read, “Gone Before Her Time: Virtual Aging Technology Shows Us What Anne Frank Would Have Looked Like if She Hadn’t Died.”

Beneath, the publication added: “Add this to your list of reasons the Holocaust sucked.”

Anne, who was Jewish, died at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and gained international fame posthumously when her diary was published depicting her and her family’s time in hiding from Nazi persecution in the Netherlands.

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“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,” the magazine’s leadership wrote in their apology.

According to the Harvard Crimson student newspaper, the issue was circulated over the weekend on campus, and many students began criticizing the image on social media by Sunday night.

A petition with almost 300 signatures as of early Wednesday had circulated, calling for an apology and explanation of how and why the image made it into the magazine, the Crimson reported.

The newspaper also said that the head of Harvard Hillel, Rabbi Jonah C. Steinberg, emailed the Lampoon separately, comparing the image “to obscenity of the Nazis.”

“Your depiction of Anne Frank’s face grafted to pinup imagery goes far beyond the distastefulness and provocativeness you obviously intend. It is the sexual violation of a child – one who, in life, was subjected to the most hideous of crimes,” Steinberg reportedly wrote.

A Harvard spokesperson said the image was “deeply offensive and insulting” and denigrated Frank’s legacy.

“It is not aligned with the values that Harvard College works tirelessly to promote, and we have already begun discussions with the students and organization involved to ensure that appropriate action is taken,” Harvard spokesperson Aaron Goldman said.

The Lampoon is an independent student group, not operated by the university.

In a statement to USA TODAY, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in New York said empathy for others must guide all interactions.

“As Anne Frank said, ‘People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.’ We all make mistakes. It’s important we learn from them, especially at our educational and cultural institutions,” the statement read.

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Robert Trestan, the head of the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston office, tweeted that the image was “shameful and harmful” amid rising anti-Semitism around the world and called it “outrageous, insensitive, sexualized.”

The Harvard Lampoon was founded in 1876 as a student humor magazine and has many notable alumni, including Conan O’Brien, Lawrence O’Donnell and Colin Jost.

In their apology, the Lampoon’s student leaders vowed to change their editorial practices to ensure that images like the one recently published are not included in the future. They also said they would work with the school’s office of diversity to improve their organization’s culture overall.

“Moving forward, we will approach the content of our magazine with greater care,” the editors said.

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Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller

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