Historical Importance of Anne Frank:
Also Known As:
Overview of Anne Frank:
The Franks were a middle-class, liberal Jewish family whose ancestors had lived in Germany for centuries. The Franks considered Germany their home; thus it was a very difficult decision for them to leave Germany in 1933 and start a new life in the Netherlands, away from the anti-Semitism of the newly empowered Nazis.
After moving his family in with Edith's mother in Aachen, Germany, Otto Frank moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands in the summer of 1933 so that he could establish a Dutch firm of Opekta, a company which made and sold pectin (a product used to make jelly). The other members of the Frank family followed a bit later, with Anne being the last to arrive in Amsterdam in February 1934.
The Franks quickly settled into life in Amsterdam. While Otto Frank focused on building up his business, Anne and Margot started at their new schools and made a large circle of Jewish and non-Jewish friends. In 1939, Anne's maternal grandmother also fled Germany and lived with the Franks until her death in January 1942.
On May 10, 1940, Germany attacked the Netherlands. Five days later, the Netherlands officially surrendered. The Nazis were now in control of the Netherlands and quickly began issuing anti-Jewish laws and edicts. In addition to no longer being able to sit on park benches, go to public swimming pools, or take public transportation, Anne could no longer go to a school with non-Jews. In September 1941, Anne had to leave her Montessori school to attend the Jewish Lyceum. In May 1942, a new edict forced all Jews over the age of six to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothes.
Since the persecution of Jews in Netherlands was extremely similar to the early persecution of Jews in Germany, the Franks could foresee that just like it had for the Jews in Germany, death and deportation was coming soon to Jews in the Netherlands. The Franks realized they needed to find a way to escape. Unable to leave from the Netherlands because the borders were closed, the Franks decided the only way to escape the Nazis was to go into hiding. Nearly a year before Anne received her diary, the Franks had begun organizing a hiding place.
For Anne's 13th birthday (June 12, 1942), she received a red-and-white-checkered autograph album that she decided to use as a diary. Until she went into hiding, Anne wrote in her diary about everyday life such as her friends, grades she received at school, even about playing ping pong.
The Franks had planned on moving to their hiding place on July 16, 1942, but their plans changed when Margot received a call-up notice on July 5, 1942. After packing their final items, the Franks left their apartment at 37 Merwedeplein the following day.
Their hiding place, which Anne called the Secret Annex, was located in the upper-back portion of Otto Frank's business at 263 Prinsengracht. On July 13, 1942 (seven days after the Franks arrived in the Annex), the van Pels family (called the van Daans in Anne's published diary) arrived at the Secret Annex to live. The van Pels family included Auguste van Pels (Petronella van Daan), Hermann van Pels (Herman van Daan), and their son Peter van Pels (Peter van Daan). The last to arrive of the eight people to hide in the Secret Annex was the dentist Friedrich "Fritz" Pfeffer (called Albert Dussel in the diary) on November 16, 1942.
Anne continued writing her diary from her 13th birthday on June 12, 1942 until August 1, 1944. Much of the diary is about the cramped and stifling living conditions as well as the personality conflicts between the eight that lived together in hiding. Also among the two years and one month that Anne lived in the Secret Annex, she wrote about her fears, her hopes, and her character. She felt misunderstood by those around her and was constantly trying to better herself.
Anne was 13 years old when she went into hiding and she was only 15 old when she was arrested. On the morning of August 4, 1944, around ten to ten-thirty in the morning, an SS officer and several Dutch Security Police members pulled up to 263 Prinsengracht. They went directly to the bookcase that hid the door to the Secret Annex and pried the door open. All eight people living in the Secret Annex were arrested and taken to Westerbork. Anne's diary lay on the ground and was collected and safely stored by Miep Gies later that day.
On September 3, 1944, Anne and all those who had been hiding in the Secret Annex were shipped on the very last train leaving Westerbork for Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, the group was separated and several were soon transported to other camps. Anne and Margot were transported to Bergen-Belsen at the end of October 1944. In late February or early March of 1945, Margot died of typhus, followed just a few days later by Anne, also from typhus. Bergen-Belsen was liberated on April 12, 1945, just about a month after their deaths.