Jewish teenager Anne Frank was just 13 years old when she went into hiding with her parents, older sister and four other Jews following the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II. Between 1942 and 1944, Anne kept a personal diary, recording life in the secret annex in Amsterdam, her ambitions for the future and her fear at being found by the Nazi authorities. On 4 August 1944, following a tip from an informer, the annex was stormed by the authorities and the family were arrested and deported.
Since Anne’s diary was first published in 1947, it has been read by millions of people all over the world, and has become one of the most unique and powerful memoirs of the Holocaust. Her diary has been translated into 67 languages and has regularly been the subject of stage and screen performances, while her plight continues to attract thousands of visitors every year to the Anne Frank Museum dedicated to her story in Amsterdam.
Born on 12 June 1929 to Otto and Edith, Annelies Marie Frank was born on 12 June 1929 and grew up on the outskirts of Frankfurt. When Hitler’s National German Socialist Workers Party - the Nazi Party - rose to power in 1933, the Franks knew that as Jews Germany was no longer safe. Otto later commented:
“Though this did hurt me deeply, I realised that Germany was not the world, and I left my country forever.”
The family started a new life in Amsterdam in autumn of 1933 and Anne attended the Montessori School throughout the 1930s. However, on 1 September 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland and World War Two began. On 10 May 1940, the Netherlands was invaded by the German army and surrendered on 15 May 1940, at which point the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands began. Anne later wrote in her diary:
“After May 1940, the good times were few and far between; first there was the war, then the capitulation and then the arrival of the Germans, which is when the trouble started for the Jews.”
Immediately, Jews were singled out – they had to wear a yellow Star of David and comply with a strict curfew, while Anne and Margot were forced to attend a segregated Jewish school. Just weeks after Anne’s thirteenth birthday, for which she had received a red diary from her parents, Margot received a summons to a Nazi work camp in Germany. The family went into hiding in the ‘secret annex’, a hiding place at the back of Otto Frank’s company building, which was hidden from view by buildings on all four sides.
The Franks were joined in the annex by Otto's business partner Hermann van Pels, his wife Auguste, and son, Peter. Otto’s employees Kugler and Kleiman, and friends Jan and Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, provided the families with food throughout their time in hiding.
Anne used the diary to record her hopes, fears and growing feelings for Peter. In February 1944, she wrote: “I've reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I can't do anything to change events anyway.” However, in April 1944, she wrote of the power of her diary: “When I write, I can shake off all my cares.”
After two years and one month in hiding, Anne’s family and the other Jews hidden in the secret annex were betrayed to the Nazis – the identity of the betrayer remains unknown to this day – and the annex was stormed by German secret police officers and four Dutch Nazis on 4 August 1944. All of the inhabitants were arrested and sent to Camp Westerbork, a transit camp located in the northeastern Netherlands.
On 2 September 1944, they were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp on what would be the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz. Anne and her sister were transferred to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, which was renamed Stalag 311. Their mother Edith perished at Auschwitz in January 1945. Anne and Margot both died of typhus in March 1945, mere weeks before the camp was liberated by Russian soldiers. Anne was just 15 years old. Her father Otto was the only member of the family to survive the war.
Otto returned to Amsterdam after the war was over and attempted to locate his family, but he soon discovered that they had all died in concentration camps. His old friend, Miep Gies, gave him Anne’s diary, which she had saved from the annex and hidden in a drawer of her desk. Otto later wrote that the discovery of the diary allowed him to get to know a whole new Anne. “There was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings,” he wrote. Upon the publication of 'The Secret Annex: Diary Letters from 14 June 1942 to 1 August 1944' on 25 June, 1947, Otto said: “If she had been here, Anne would have been so proud.”
Over the years, there have been rumours that the diary was not entirely written by Anne, but rather written in part by her father, Otto. Indeed, French professor Robert Faurrison wrote an article in 1978, entitled 'The Diary of Anne Frank – Is it authentic?'. Alongside this suggestion, in the late 1950s, several pro-Nazi journals inferred that the diary had been forged by American author Meyer Levin, who had written a theatrical version of the play but had failed to get it to the stage. However, it was concluded that Levin had nothing to do with the original diary and, whilst it is widely accepted that Otto did edit some sections of the diary prior to publication, the vast majority of the diary was indeed Anne’s work.
"Anne Frank". HistoryLearning.com. 2023. Web.
|Birth Date:||12 June 1929, Frankfurt|
|Death:||March 1945, Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Lower Saxony|
|Notable Works:||The Diary of a Young Girl (1947)|