Anne Frank was a German Jewish concentration camp victim, born in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. She fled from the Nazis to Holland in 1933 with her family. After the Nazis took over Holland, she hid with her family and four others in a sealed-off office back room in Amsterdam from 1942 until they were betrayed in August 1944. The animated diary she kept during the time she was hiding was published in 1947, and was dramatized and filmed. Anne Frank became a symbol of suffering under the Nazis. Her name was given to villages and schools for refugee children throughout Western Europe.
Annelies Marie Frank was born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. Her parents thought that was a long name for a baby, so after awhile she was called Anne. Anne Frank loved to play tennis and swim. She enjoyed being with her friends in school and couldn’t resist chatting during class. Although the family was German, it was also Jewish.
30,000 Jews lived in Frankfurt out of a population of 540,000 people in 1929. Frankfurt was the second largest community in Germany for Jewish people after Berlin City. In 1929, Otto Frank and Edith Frank were celebrating their anniversary, but it was not a good year for Germany. There were rules for Jewish people forcing them to leave their homes and live somewhere else called the ghetto. A lot of businesses were closed and closing, and thousands of people were out of work. A quarter of Frankfurt’s population was unemployed.
When times started to get worse, more people joined a party called the National Socialists. The supporters blamed the bad times on the government and on the Jews. The Jews were always being blamed for things that they had not done, so it wasn’t the first time. Edith Frank, Otto Frank, and other Jews hoped that this ill feeling towards them would soon go away and be forgotten. But soon the problem got worse, and the Nazis got stronger.
In 1933, Adolf Hitler, who was already the party’s leader, was elected the head of a government made up of many parties. Two months later he was in control of everything. All the other political parties in the country were outlawed, and the people who were against the Nazi party were sent to prison camps. Laws were made that did not allow Germans to shop in stores that were owned by Jews. It was forbidden for people who were not Jewish to consult a Jewish doctor or a Jewish lawyer. By mid-April 1933, a law was made stating that all public employees who had even one Jewish grandparent were to be fired from their jobs. Jewish teachers were not able to teach in their schools. As Jews lost their jobs, there was more work for other Germans.
Suddenly, the Franks found that they were not Germans after all-they were Jews living in Germany trying to convince themselves that these laws would not last. In 1933 when the Nazis came to power, the Franks left Frankfurt and moved to Amsterdam, Holland. When the Frank family arrived in Holland, more than
100,000 Jews were living there. Anne and Margot Frank were enrolled in the Montessori School, which was just a few blocks from their home. They quickly made friends. Anne had thirteen other Jews in her class.
On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Holland. It all came as a complete surprise. Within days, the country was forced to surrender. Many Dutchmen were forced to go to Germany and work in the factories. The people who stayed in Germany found themselves under new laws. All Jews had to sew a yellow six-pointed star on their clothing. Anne and her sister Margot couldn’t do any public things. Anne was forced to leave her school, along with the other thirteen Jews in her class. Anne wept when she said goodbye to her teacher. Anne and Margot enrolled in the Jewish Secondary School. They were sad that they had to leave behind many good friends. Anne’s father tried hard to protect his daughters from realizing just how desperate things were for Jews. For Anne’s thirteenth birthday she received a diary. Anne was really happy because she felt that she needed something to write her feelings and thoughts in. Anne decided to name her diary Kitty.
Less then a month after Anne’s birthday, the Franks received a postcard. Sixteen year old Margot Frank was being taken away to work in a German factory. Otto Frank knew that he and his family could not leave Holland, so he arranged a hideaway plan somewhere in Holland. Some other Jews had started to hide. It was called "diving." Very early in the morning on July 6, 1942, Anne was awakened. Following her mother’s instructions, Anne put on layer after layer of clothing. It was the day the Frank family was going into hiding, and it was too risky too be seen carrying suitcases. Anne had no clue of what was going on. Soon some of the Franks’ friends came to hide with them.
Anne and her family walked to the building at 263 Prinsengracht. The house had been constructed awhile ago. Each item they brought into the building was secretly brought. Anne noticed that the room had everything that they could ever need. There were not many rooms in the building, but it was enough. Some of them had to share rooms. The building was two upper floors of the warehouse connected to Mr. Frank’s place of business. Each floor had two rooms. Eight people were crowed into this area. Besides the Franks, there were Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, their son, Peter, and Albert Dussel. Mr. Van Daan was a business associate of Mr. Frank. Dr. Dussel was a dentist. They all were Jews, all afraid, and all wanted to live.
They all had to be very quiet and whisper because of the workers below them in the office. They also had to tiptoe. Some of their friends would bring them food and things that they needed. The eight Jews were happy to be alive. They got on each other’s nerves a lot because they were so close together and because they were always together. They were often without heat. There was never enough food. They could only speak in whispers in the daytime. They couldn’t move around much, and they couldn’t run water. They did these things so that the workers in the office wouldn’t hear them. Anne was always writing in her diary about everything that happened in the hideaway. She wrote about her fears, thoughts, and feelings.
For awhile while they were in the building, they could hear the German police coming around to find all Jews. Soon they were caught. The eight prisoners were taken to Gestapo headquarters. They where all locked in a room together. While they were locked up, they would whisper to each other. After a few days, they were transported to Westbork, a camp in eastern Holland. It was a place where Dutch Jews were sent before they were sent to a German camp. Anne was fascinated by all the views from the train window, but she did not enjoy the ride.
Three months after Anne and her family set out, the train arrived in Auschwitz. They were separated. Anne, Margot, and Edith Frank had to get their heads shaved. A number was stamped on their arms to identify them. Anne and Margot were moved on Oct. 30, while their parents remained. Anne felt terrible about everything that was happening The sisters were sent on another train to a camp in Bergen Belsen, Germany. That place was so crowed that the first few nights they had to sleep in a tent on the ground. In March 1945 Margot Frank (who had been really ill) died of typhus. Anne was also very sick. Soon after her sister’s death, Anne died, too. Anne died less than two months before the war ended and three months before her sixteenth birthday.
The war finally ended. Otto Frank was the only one from the Franks’ secret hideout who survived the war. He was hoping to find his family, but he didn’t. Otto Frank found many notes from Anne’s diary. Soon he actually found the diary itself. He read everything that his daughter, Anne Frank, had written. Otto decided to publish Anne’s diary. It was first published in 1947.
Today, her diary has been translated into sixty-seven languages and is one of the most widely read books in the world. The house at 263 Prinsengracht is open for many people to come in and see it, so that many people could see how Anne lived and how things were back then in the building.
Hurwitz, Johanna. Anne Frank. New York, NY: The Jewish Publication Society, 1988.
"Anne Frank." Cambridge Biographical Dictionary. New York, NY: Cambridge Dictionary Inc., 1990.