Anne Frank



Anne Frank was a German-Jewish teenager who was forced to go into hiding during the Holocaust.  Her family fled the Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany in the 1930's. settling in what the hoped was the safety of Amsterdam, Holland.  When the Nazi's invaded Holland in 1940, the terror and the Franks went into hiding in a secret Annexe, hidden rooms at the back of Otto Frank's business premises in Amsterdam.  Most books about famous people only tell the reader what the person was like as a child, to help exsplain what they were like as a grown up. But Anne's Diary is all about her childhood because she never had a chance to grow up.  Anne felt strongly the idea that she had a dual personality, that there were two Anne's, the "pure" being that she wanted to be, and that of which the others judged her to be 

To understand why Anne Frank became famous we must know something about her family background. The Frank family settled in the German city of Frankfurt in the seventeenth century. As the city expanded and grew rich by trade, so the Frank family also prospered. Otto Frank, Anne Frank's father was born in 1889. Otto was brought up in a pleasant suburb of the city Frankfurt. When Otto left school he studied at the famous University of Heidelberg. However, he left university when he was given a chance to go the United States. There he spent a year in New York before returning to his family in Germany. During World War I (1914-18) Otto and his two brothers served in the army as did millions of other German citizens. Otto rose to the rank of lieutenant. When the war ended, he left the army and went to work for his father's banking firm. In 1925 Otto married Edith Hollander. The following year Otto and Edith had their first child Margot Betti. Their second daughter Annelies Marie (Anne, for short) was born on 19 June 1929. In 1933 Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party came into power in Germany. As soon as the Nazis were in power they began to treat Jews like enemies. Many Jews decided to leave Germany before they lost more than their jobs. Otto Frank was fortunate to still have a job and a nice house in a bright, modern suburb. Even so, he decided to leave his job, his home and his country, to take Edith and the two girls to live in Holland.

Otto believed his family would be safe in Holland, as Holland took no part in fighting during World War I. In April 1940 Germany invaded Denmark and Norway. A month later Germany attacked France, Belgium, Luxembourg – and Holland. With the Nazis making life unbearable for the Jewish in Holland, Otto Frank decided to go into hiding with his family. He prepared a hiding place in the upstairs rooms of the Prinsengracht building. Margot's order to report to a labour camp hastened their move to the "secret annexe" in July 1942. The Frank's "Secret Annexe" consisted of just 6 rooms. For two years this was not just to be their home but the whole world. It was here when Anne started writing in her diary about her life in the annexe.

Although Anne was hidden away from the daily world, the radio kept her in contact with events, and her own powerful sympathetic imagination allowed her to understand the sufferings of her fellow Jews in Europe. In the evening when it is dark, I often see rows of good, innocent people accompanied by crying children, walking on and on, bullied and knocked about until they almost drop. No one is spared - each and all join in the march of death.

Life in the annexe settled down to a monotonous routine. They woke at 06:45a.m. and they all used the bathroom. By 08:30 they all had to be quiet as work began in the warehouse beneath them. Breakfast was served at 09:00 and this was normally eaten in the van Daan's room, on the top floor, where they would least likely be heard. After breakfast all movement was kept to an absolute minimum until 12:30 when the warehouse closed for lunch. At this time, the inhabitants of the annexe had lunch and listened to the BBC. At 14:00 the warehouse reopened and there was silence once again. Between 14:00pm and 17:30 time was spent resting or reading. When the warehouse at 17:30 everyone could move around again and the evening meal was prepared and served. At 21:00 preparations were made to go to bed. At weekends the routine varied, with no welcomed visitors from downstairs and even more need to keep quiet to avoid attracting the slightest attention to what supposed to be an empty building. This routine went on for two years until they were captured in 1944.

The Nazis somehow found out about the Jews living in the secret annexe and arrested them. Mrs. Frank weak and ill died shortly before the Russians liberated the camp Mr. Frank survived his ordeal, and had gone into the women's section to find out what had happened to his wife and daughters. Here he learned that his wife had just died and that Margot and Anne, had been taken to Bergen-Belson, a work camp. There was cruelty, hunger and disease; but there were no gas chambers, and this gave Mr. Frank some hope that his daughters might still be alive.

Between February and March 1945 Margot caught typhus and died in Bergen-Belson. Anne was now completely alone. Shortly afterwards she too, died of typhus.

In March 1944 Anne Frank listened to the Dutch programmers from London and heard the broadcaster say that after the war the Dutch people ought to make a national collection of diaries and letters to record what they had been through. Anne put her own immediate thoughts in her diary.

In 1947 Mr Frank managed to publish Anne’s diary, titled Het Achterhuis (The Annexe), that Anne herself had chosen. Anne Frank’s diary has appeared in more than 50 different editions and more that 18 million copies were sold worldwide.

Anne wanted to grow up to be a writer. She never had the chance. Anne wanted to live after her death through her writing. She has. Her voice was preserved out of the millions that were silenced, this voice no louder than a child's whisper. It tells how millions lived, spoke, ate, and slept, and it has outlived the shouts of the murderers and has soared above the voices of time.

Diary excerpts