Anne Frank

one of over one million Jewish children who died in the Holocaust

Tina S
Tina S
Apr 23, 2010
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During the two years and one month Anne Frank spent hiding in a Secret Annex in Amsterdam during World War II, she kept a diary. 

Anne Frank's diary, which was published by her father after the war and has been read by millions of people around the world, chronicles both the tensions and difficulties of living in such a confined space for that long a duration as well as Anne's struggles with becoming a teenager. Since the publication of her diary, Anne Frank has become a symbol of the children that were murdered in the Holocaust.

Frank was born on 12 June 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany, the second daughter of Otto Frank (1889–1980) and Edith Frank-Holländer (1900–45). Margot Frank (1926–45) was her elder sister. The Franks were liberal Jews and lived in an assimilated community of Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, where the children grew up with Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish friends. The Frank family did not observe all of the customs and traditions of Judaism. Edith Frank was the more devout parent, while Otto Frank was interested in scholarly pursuits and had an extensive library; both parents encouraged the children to read. 

The Franks quickly settled into life in Amsterdam. While Otto Frank focused on building up his business, Anne and Margot started at their new schools and made a large circle of Jewish and non-Jewish friends. In 1939, Anne's maternal grandmother also fled Germany and lived with the Franks until her death in January 1942.

On May 10, 1940, Germany attacked the Netherlands. Five days later, the Netherlands officially surrendered. The Nazis were now in control of the Netherlands and quickly began issuing anti-Jewish laws and edicts. In addition to no longer being able to sit on park benches, go to public swimming pools, or take public transportation, Anne could no longer go to a school with non-Jews. In September 1941, Anne had to leave her Montessori school to attend the Jewish Lyceum. In May 1942, a new edict forced all Jews over the age of six to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothes.

For her thirteenth birthday on 12 June 1942, Anne received a book she had shown her father in a shop window a few days earlier. Although it was an autograph book, bound with red-and-green plaid cloth and with a small lock on the front, Anne decided she would use it as a diary, and began writing in it almost immediately.

While many of her early entries relate the mundane aspects of her life, she also discusses some of the changes that had taken place in the Netherlands since the German occupation. In her entry dated 20 June 1942, she lists many of the restrictions that had been placed upon the lives of the Dutch Jewish population, and also notes her sorrow at the death of her grandmother earlier in the year. Anne dreamed about becoming an actress. She loved watching movies, but the Dutch Jews were forbidden access to movie theaters from 8 January 1941 onwards.

The Franks had planned on moving to their hiding place on July 16, 1942, but their plans changed when Margot received a call-up notice on July 5, 1942. After packing their final items, the Franks left their apartment at 37 Merwedeplein the following day.

Their hiding place, which Anne called the Secret Annex, was located in the upper-back portion of Otto Frank's business at 263 Prinsengracht. On July 13, 1942 (seven days after the Franks arrived in the Annex), the van Pels family (called the van Daans in Anne's published diary) arrived at the Secret Annex to live. The van Pels family included Auguste van Pels (Petronella van Daan), Hermann van Pels (Herman van Daan), and their son Peter van Pels (Peter van Daan). The last to arrive of the eight people to hide in the Secret Annex was the dentist Friedrich "Fritz" Pfeffer (called Albert Dussel in the diary) on November 16, 1942.

In her writing, Anne Frank examined her relationships with the members of her family, and the strong differences in each of their personalities. She considered herself to be closest emotionally to her father, who later commented, "I got on better with Anne than with Margot, who was more attached to her mother. The reason for that may have been that Margot rarely showed her feelings and didn't need as much support because she didn't suffer from mood swings as much as Anne did."

Anne and Margot formed a closer relationship than had existed before they went into hiding, although Anne sometimes expressed jealousy towards Margot, particularly when members of the household criticized Anne for lacking Margot's gentle and placid nature. As Anne began to mature, the sisters were able to confide in each other.

In her entry of 12 January 1944, Anne wrote, "Margot's much nicer... She's not nearly so catty these days and is becoming a real friend. She no longer thinks of me as a little baby who doesn't count."

Anne frequently wrote of her difficult relationship with her mother, and of her ambivalence towards her. 

Margot and Anne each hoped to return to school as soon as they were able, and continued with their studies while in hiding.. Most of Anne's time was spent reading and studying, and she regularly wrote and edited her diary entries. In addition to providing a narrative of events as they occurred, she wrote about her feelings, beliefs and ambitions, subjects she felt she could not discuss with anyone. As her confidence in her writing grew, and as she began to mature, she wrote of more abstract subjects such as her belief in God, and how she defined human nature.

Anne was 13 years old when she went into hiding and she was only 15 old when she was arrested. On the morning of August 4, 1944, around ten to ten-thirty in the morning, an SS officer and several Dutch Security Police members pulled up to 263 Prinsengracht. They went directly to the bookcase that hid the door to the Secret Annex and pried the door open. All eight people living in the Secret Annex were arrested and taken to Westerbork. Anne's diary lay on the ground and was collected and safely stored by Miep Gies later that day.

On September 3, 1944, Anne and all those who had been hiding in the Secret Annex were shipped on the very last train leaving Westerbork for Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, the group was separated and several were soon transported to other camps. Anne and Margot were transported to Bergen-Belsen at the end of October 1944. In late February or early March of 1945, Margot died of typhus, followed just a few days later by Anne, also from typhus. Bergen-Belsen was liberated on April 12, 1945, just about a month after their deaths.

In July 1945, after the Red Cross confirmed the deaths of Anne and Margot, Miep Gies gave Otto Frank the diary, along with a bundle of loose notes that she had saved, in the hope that she could have returned them to Anne. Otto Frank later commented that he had not realized Anne had kept such an accurate and well-written record of their time in hiding. In his memoir he described the painful process of reading the diary, recognizing the events described and recalling that he had already heard some of the more amusing episodes read aloud by his daughter.

 For photos of Anne Frank visit:

Keywords: Anne Frank,Anne Frank's diary,Margot,world war 2,secret annex,thirteenth birthday,Jewish,lyceum,Monetessori,yellow star,Netherlands,Judasim,Edith Frank,Amsterdam,Otto Frank,1929-1945.

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