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Anne Frank

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Anne Frank smiling for her school photograph (1941, Anne was 12)

Annelies Marie Frank (Anne) (Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, 12 June 1929 - Bergen-Belsen, February 1945) was a German - Jewish girl. She died during World War II, along with 6 million other Jews. She perished in the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in February 1945. She died of Typhoid Fever, an infectious illness usually passed onto humans by flea bites.

Anne Frank became famous only after her death because of a diary she had written. After the war was over, the diary was published and has been translated into more than 70 languages. Anne is the symbol today which represents the 6 million other Jewish people who died during the Second World War. There have been many books written about her and there are also theatre plays which have been written, based on her diary.

Anne received the diary as a gift from her parents for her 13th birthday, on 12 June 1942. The very first words she wrote in the diary were:

I hope that I can entrust everything to you, as I have not been able to do to anyone, and I hope that you will be a great support to me. — 12 June 1942

From Frankfurt to Amsterdam[edit | edit source]

Anne was the daughter of Otto and Edith Frank-Holländer. She had an older sister named Margot, who was born on 16 February 1926. On 13 March 1932, there was an election in Germany, in which the Nazis (people who followed Hitler) won many votes. Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. Anne's parents realized that they and the children had no future in Germany because Adolf Hitler persecuted Jews. They fled to Amsterdam in 1933 and went to live at Merwedeplein 37 on the second floor.

Anne's father Otto went to the Netherlands in the summer of 1933, Edith went in November, Anne and Margot went to their Grandmother's house in Aachen (near the Dutch border). Margot went to the Netherlands in December 1933 and Anne followed in February 1934, where she was put on the table as a birthday present for Margot. Anne and Margot both went to school in the neighborhood and learned Dutch. Anne had many friends at school and in the neighborhood, and she enjoyed playing with them. Anne loved skating, reading, watching films and she collected pictures of movie stars.

The Frank family were liberal Jews. That meant that they felt connections with Jewish traditions, but were not strict about following the rules.

Anne Frank had a wonderful time in Amsterdam, until the German army filed into the Netherlands and occupied it in May 1940. In 1941, everyone had to report and register if they were Jewish or Non-Jewish. There followed scores of measures against Jews and other groups that the Nazis wanted to exterminate, including Gypsies (Sinti and Roma), people with disabilities, and homosexuals. Jews weren't allowed to go to the cinema, the swimming pool, and Jewish children like Anne had to go to a Jewish school with other Jewish students. Jews were made to stay away from others.

On 29 June 1942, notices were posted in all Dutch newspapers stating that the German occupiers had decided that all Jews must be sent to work camps in Germany. Margot was one of the first Jews who, on 5 July 1942, received a letter telling her that she had to go to a work camp. Anne heard from her father the following morning that they were going into hiding. Onto the back of her Father's company building at Prinsengracht 263, a small house had been built, which stood empty. It was called the "Achterhuis" (Secret annex) and it was part of the company "Opekta", which Otto Frank was a director of. On 6 July 1942, they hid themselves in that little house.

Going into hiding[edit | edit source]

Many people didn't believe that they had to go to Germany to work. They looked for houses where they could hide with the help of residents. They hoped to stay out of the hands of the Germans. But that was not easy. You had to find a place and people who would help you. It was also dangerous, because going into hiding was forbidden.

The father and mother of Anne Frank had also come up with a plan. They'd been taking things to the secret annex. Four people who worked for Otto Frank decided that they wanted to help, and they all went into hiding together; Hermann van Pels, Auguste van Pels and their son Peter van Pels and later, Fritz Pfeffer. People worked for Otto Frank's company during the week and also on Saturdays. They were absolutely not allowed to know that people were in hiding in the secret annex.

There were only 4 people who knew and helped those hiding there: Miep Gies, Bep Voskuijl, Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler. They provided food and clothing and everything else that the people in hiding needed, such as textbooks for Margot, Anne and Peter.

They made curtains for the windows, and they had to be very quiet so that people who worked at the company during the day, didn't hear them. They knew that there were very heavy penalties for going into hiding, so there was a constant fear of being discovered. During the day, they could not even go to the toilet - because if they did, the people working at the company would find out there were people hiding there. They had to wait until all the people who worked there during the day, went home. Nobody knew how long the war would last.

Anne regularly wrote in her diary. It became her best friend and she called it "Kitty". One day in 1942, Anne wrote in her diary: "Our hiding place has only now become a real hiding place. Mr Kugler (a friend of her Father) thought it would be better to place a cupboard in front of our entrance door - but of course, a cupboard that can be rotated and that opens like a door."

Discovery[edit | edit source]

Anne Frank and the other people in hiding hoped that the Germans would not find them. They thought themselves safe in the house on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. But unfortunately, on 4 August 1944, their hiding place was discovered. The person who arrested them was called Karl Silberbauer. On 4 August 1944, a car stopped in front of the house at Prinsengracht 263 somewhere between 10:00 and 10:30am. The SS Squadron Leader, Karl Silberbauer, stepped out together with around three Dutch helpers. They had been betrayed by someone, but to this day, nobody knows who gave their secret away. It is also possible that they had been discovered during a house search. The people who had hidden there, had been there for more than two years, having arrived on 6 July 1942.

Shortly after the Frank family was captured, Anne's diary and other papers were found in the secret annex by Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl. All 8 of the people who had been in hiding were taken to Camp Westerbork on 8 August, thereafter they were transported to the concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz. Auschwitz was in Poland, which had also been occupied by the Germans.

That was for Anne, the last time that she saw her father. From Auschwitz, Anne and her sister Margot were taken to the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in Germany. Anne met one of her best friends from Amsterdam there. Her name was Hanneli Goslar. Hanneli had it somewhat better than Anne, because she sometimes got food parcels from the Red Cross. She tried to help Anne by throwing some of the food to her over the fence.

Bergen-Belsen laid between the German cities of Hamburg and Hannover. Anne Frank died of Typhoid Fever around February 1945, a few days after her sister Margot. She was not even 16 years old. Six of the other hiders from the Secret Annex were taken there too. Her father, Otto Frank, was the only one from her family who remained alive.


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