Anne Frank was born on June
12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany. Her parents, Otto and Edith Frank, were
Jewish, and Anne was their second daughter. Their first daughter, Margot, was
born in 1926.
For Jews in Germany, this
was a dangerous time. anti-Semitism was on the rise, and in 1933, Adolf Hitler
came to power. His National Socialist Party was virulently anti-Semitic. Seeing
the danger, Otto Frank moved his family to the Netherlands, where Anne went to
school and lived a relatively carefree early childhood. However, World War II
broke out in 1939, and in 1940, Holland was occupied by the Germans. After
this, life became progressively more difficult for Holland's Jewish population.
Many anti-Jewish decrees were passed, and thousands of Jews were rounded up and
sent to labor camps both in Holland and Germany. In order to avoid deportation
and probable death, many Jews in Holland went into hiding, as did the Frank
family when they received news that Margot had been called up to the work camp
at Westerbork, in Holland.
Rather than allow Margot to
go the camp, on July 6, 1942, the entire Frank family went into hiding in the
top two floors of the building which housed Otto Frank's business. The van
Pels, another Jewish family originally from Germany, joined the Franks within a
few days, and Fritz Pfeffer, a Jewish dentist, followed soon after.
Anne Frank began writing her
diary on her thirteenth birthday, in June 1942, a few weeks before the family
went into hiding. She continued to write, recording the day-to-day life of the
family and her own deepest thoughts and reflections, until the eight residents
of the building were arrested by the security police on August 4, 1944. Someone
had tipped off the authorities that there were Jews hiding in the building.
The Franks, van Pels and
Pfeffer were first sent to the transit camp at Westerbork. From there they were
transported to Auschwitz, a concentration camp in Poland. At Auschwitz, the men
were separated from the women.ï¿½ While Edith Frank, Anne's mother, remained at
Auschwitz, dying from hunger and exhaustion on January 6, 1945, Anne and Margot
spent a month there before being transported to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration
camp in Germany. Conditions there were appalling, and thousands died of disease
and starvation. Margot and Anne contracted typhus and died within a few days of
each other, in early March 1945, only a few weeks before British troops liberated
the camp on April 12, 1945.
Otto Frank survived
Auschwitz and was liberated on January 27, 1945. Heï¿½ was given Anne's diary by
Miep Gies, a Dutchwoman who had helped the Franks during the time they were in
hiding. Gies had saved the diary, hoping to give it back to Anne after the war.
The first edition of Anne's diary ï¿½was published in Amsterdam in 1947.
The first American edition appeared in 1952. The Diary of Anne Frank became
a best-seller and is one of the most moving and best-known of literary works
that depict the suffering of the Jews in World War II. ï¿½