Who was Anne Frank?
The face of Anne Frank is one of the most well known images of the Holocaust. Who was this remarkable young lady? What is the significance of her amazing diary?
Anne Frank was born to a Jewish family in Frankfurt, Germany in 1929. When, in 1933, the Nazis came to power in Germany, her family thought they would be safer in Holland, so went to live in Amsterdam. For a few years they were safe. However, in 1940, the Germans occupied Holland. The family was once again living under Nazi control.
Otto, Anne’s father, began making plans to hide himself and his entire family until the War was over.
On 6 July 1942, a month before Anne’s 13th birthday, the family went into hiding in a part of Otto’s office building. Within a few months four other people joined them. Four of Otto’s staff knew about the hiding place and helped them survive.
By August 1944 Anne Frank and her family had been in hiding for just over two years. The Franks were then betrayed. On 4 August 1944, the Nazis found out about the hiding place and raided the office, arresting all eight people. All were sent to Westerbork, a transit camp near to Amsterdam. From there they were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau on the last ever transport from Westerbork to the camp. Anne’s mother, Edith died in Auschwitz.
In October 1944 Anne and her sister, Margot, were sent to Bergen-Belsen. The camp was extremely overcrowded; the conditions were terrible. Anne and her sister both died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen in March 1945. Anne had lived until she was 15 years old.
What is the Diary of Anne Frank?
On her 13th birthday – she had gone into hiding by then – Anne was given a diary as a birthday present. For the two years she was in hiding Anne wrote a detailed diary. She invented an imaginary friend, Kitty, who was the person she imagined telling her thoughts to. Anne wrote about life in hiding, her family relationships, the other people in hiding with her and her own physical and emotional development. It is a very moving personal record of what happened during the Holocaust.
The Diary of Anne Frank is not just an historical document. It is the testimony of a young woman who refused to give up. She resisted the Nazis. Throughout those two years Anne held on to her culture, her ideals, her hopes and her dreams in the face of adversity, even though she was trapped within the confines of the family’s hiding place.
Anne’s father Otto was the only member of the whole family who survived the Holocaust. He was liberated in Auschwitz on 27 January 1945. Later he returned to Amsterdam. On his return, Miep Giese, one of his worker’s who had helped the family during their two years in hiding, gave him the pages from Anne’s diary that she had saved from the hiding place. In 1947, Otto published the diary.
Anne Frank’s diary remains one of the best-known published works throughout the world.
You can learn more about Anne Frank and perhaps visit a travelling exhibition about Anne and her diary, by clicking here