Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank
Born on June 12, 1929, Anne Frank was a German-Jewish
teenager who was forced to go into hiding during the Holocaust.
She and her family, along with four others, spent 25 months
during World War II in an annex of rooms above her father’s office
in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After being betrayed to the Nazis,
Anne, her family, and the others living with them were arrested
and deported to Nazi concentration camps. In March of 1945, nine
months after she was arrested, Anne Frank died of typhus at
Bergen-Belsen. She was fifteen years old.
Her diary, saved during the war by one of the family’s helpers,
Miep Gies, was first published in 1947. Today, her diary has been
translated into 67 languages and is one of the most widely read
books in the world.
Anne Frank and her family were German refugees who resettled and
tried to build their lives in the Netherlands. Although the Franks were
proud of their German heritage, their feelings toward Germany became
very complicated during the war
When the Nazis invaded Holland, the Frank family, like all Jewish
residents, became victims of a systematically constricting universe.
First came laws that forbade Jews to enter into business contracts.
Then books by Jews were burned. Then there were the so-called Aryan
laws, affecting intermarriage. Then Jews were barred from parks,
beaches, movies, libraries. By 1942 they had to wear yellow stars
stitched to their outer garments. Then phone service was denied them,
then bicycles. Trapped at last in their homes, they were "disappeared."
While these preparations are secretly under way,
Anne celebrates her thirteenth birthday, on June
12, 1942. On July 5, 1942, her sister, Margot,
receives a call-up notice. This means that she
will be deported to a Nazi "work camp."
Anne is reading a book on the veranda in the
sunshine,having just said goodbye to her friend,
Hello, when a policeman rings the
Frank's doorbell at about 3 p.m.Even though the hiding pl
not yet ready, the Frank family realizes that they have t
right away. They hurriedly pack their belongings and leav
implying that they have left the country.
On the morning of July 6, Anne wakes up at 5:30 to make f
preparations. Margot leaves first with Miep. Then, at 7:3
says goodbye to her cat, Moortje, and leaves with her fat
mother for the hiding place.
In May 1942, all Jews aged six and older are required to wear a yellow Star of
David on their clothes to set them apart from non-Jews.
The Nazi administration, in conjunction with the Dutch
Nazi Party and civil service, begins issuing anti-Jewish
All Jews have to register their businesses. Later, they
are forced to surrender them to non-Jews. Fortunately,
Otto Frank, in anticipation of this decree, has already
turned his business over to his non-Jewish colleagues
Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman.
• February, March, April - Auschwitz, Belzec and Sobibor all
become fully operational death camps.
June 12 - Anne receives a diary for her thirteenth
birthday, which she calls "Kitty,"
July 5 - Margot Frank, 16, receives a call-up
notice to report for deportation to a labor camp.
The family goes into hiding the next day.
July 6 – The Frank family leaves their home
forever and moves into the 'Secret Annex'
July 13 - The van Pels family, another Jewish
family originally from Germany, joins the Frank
family in hiding.
November 16 - Fritz Pfeffer, the eighth and final
resident of the Secret Annex, joins the Frank and
van Pels families.
This is one of the
This is one of the last photographs
before they go into hiding.
her sister Margot
before they go into
In addition, people on the office staff in the Dutch Opekta
Company agree to help them. Besides Victor Kugler and
Johannes Kleiman, there are Miep and Jan Gies, Bep Voskuijl,
and Bep's father - all considered to be trustworthy.
These friends and employees not only agree to
keep the business operating in their employer's
absence, they agree to risk their lives to help
the Frank family survive.
The helpers, from left to right:
Mr. Kleiman, Miep Gies, Bep
Voskuijl, and Mr. Kugler.
Mr. Frank also makes arrangements for his
business partner, Hermann van Pels, along with
his wife, Auguste van Pels, and their son, Peter,
to share the Prinsengracht hideaway.
1942 and 1944,
February 2 - The encircled German Sixth Army surrenders to
Soviet forces at Stalingrad, Russia. The tide of the war begins to
turn against Germany.
liquidation of all Jewish ghettos in the Soviet Union and
With a diary kept in a secret attic, she braved the Nazis and lent a
searing voice to the fight for human dignity
Along with everything else she came to represent, Anne Frank
symbolized the power of a book. Because of the diary she kept
between 1942 and 1944, in the secret upstairs annex of an
Amsterdam warehouse where she and her family hid until the
Nazis found them, she became the most memorable figure to
emerge from World War II — besides Hitler, of course, who also
proclaimed his life and his beliefs in a book. In a way, the
Holocaust began with one book and ended with another. Yet it was
Anne's that finally prevailed — a beneficent and complicated work
outlasting a simple and evil one —
Fine specimens of humanity, those Germans, and to think
I'm actually one of them! No, that's not true, Hitler took
away our nationality long ago. And besides, there are no
greater enemies on earth than the Germans and Jews." October 9, 1942
"I don't believe the war is simply the work of
politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man is
every bit as guilty; otherwise, people and nations
would have rebelled long ago!" (May 3, 1944.)
Anne decorates her narrow bedroom with photographs and postcards o
Anne Frank's family and the other residents of the Secret
Annex are in hiding for two years. The Annex is crowded and
they have to be extremely careful not to be heard or seen.
If they are discovered, the Nazis will arrest them. During
these two years, Anne keeps a diary of her life.
“When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow
disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big
question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever
become a journalist or a writer? "...if you're wondering if it's
harder for the adults here than for the children, the answer is
no...Older people have an opinion about everything and are
sure of themselves and their actions. It's twice as hard for us
young people to hold on to our opinions at a time when ideals
are being shattered..." (July 15, 1944.)
When was the last time as an adult that you experienced the
"shattering" of an ideal? Is the media a neutral force, or do you
think it plays a role in supporting or destroying idealism?
Anne Frank's diary is the voice of the Holocaust-the voice that speaks for
the millions Hitler silenced. Anne went into hiding at the age of 13, a
rambunctious and at times difficult child. Her diary reveals her
maturation into a gifted young writer, and when discovered two years
later, the precocious child had evolved into a young woman. Anne was
eventually transported to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, where
she died of typhus shortly before the Allies liberated the camp. Anne
Frank's diary is the legacy of young girl denied her adulthood by Hitler's
killing machine, and stands for the many women and men, young and
old, whose lives Hitler's final solution snatched.
The story of her life is a tragedy, but the enduring message is one of
hope and tolerance that will never die. The new edition reveals a new
depth to Anne's dreams, irritations, hardship, and passions . . . There may
be no better way to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of
World War II than to reread The Diary of a Young Girl, a testament
to an indestructivle nobility of spirit in the face of pure evil."
"Our many Jewish friends and acquaintances are being taken away in
droves. The Gestapo is treating them very roughly and transporting them
in cattle cars to Westerbork, the big camp in Drenthe to which they're sending
all the Jews....If it's that bad in Holland, what must it be like in those faraway and
We assume that most of them are being murdered. The English radio says
they're being gassed." - October 9, 1942
Have you ever heard the term 'hostages'? That's the latest punishment for
saboteurs. It's the most horrible thing you can imagine. Leading citizens—
innocent people--are taken prisoner to await their execution. If the Gestapo can't
them up against the wall. You read the announcements of their death in
the paper, where they're referred to as 'fatal accidents." - October 9, 1942
All college students are being asked to sign an official statement to
the effect that they 'sympathize with the Germans and approve of the
New Order." Eighty percent have decided to obey the dictates of their
conscience, but the penalty will be severe. Any student refusing to sign
will be sent to a German labor camp." - May 18, 1943
Mr. Bolkestein, the Cabinet Minister, speaking on the Dutch broadcast
from London, said that after the war a collection would be made of diaries
and letters dealing with the war. Of course, everyone pounced on my
diary." - March 29, 1944
When I write, I can shake off all my cares." - April 5, 1994
I've reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world
will keep on turning without me, and I can't do anything to change events
anyway. I'll just let matters take their course and concentrate on studying
and hope that everything will be all right in the end." - February 3, 1944
"...but the minute I was alone I knew I was going to cry my eyes out. I slid
to the floor in my nightgown and began by saying my prayers, very
fervently. Then I drew my knees to my chest, lay my head on my arms and
cried, all huddled up on the bare floor. A loud sob brought me back down
to earth..." - April 5, 1944
I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant,
to get on in life,to become a journalist, because that's what I want! I know I can write.
..it remains to be seen whether I really have talent...I need to have something besides
a husband and children to devote myself to!... I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to
all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And
that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to
myself and to express all that's inside me! Wednesday, April 5, 1944
It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and
death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the
approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions.
And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the
better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once
more" - July 15, 1944
It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and
impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything,
that people are truly good at heart.
The reason for her immortality was basically literary. She was an extraordinarily good
writer, for any age, and the quality of her work seemed a direct result of a ruthlessly
honest disposition. Millions were moved by the purified version of her diary originally
published by her father, but the recent critical, unexpurgated edition has moved
millions more by disanointing her solely as an emblem of innocence. Anne's deep effect
on readers comes from her being a normal, if gifted, teenager. She was curious about
sex, doubtful about religion, caustic about her parents, irritable especially to herself; she
believed she had been fitted with two contradictory souls.
One year before her death from typhus in the Bergen-Belsen camp, she wrote,
"I want to be useful or give pleasure to people around me who yet don't really know me.
I want to go on living even after my death!"
In October, 1944, Anne and
Margot are transported
from Auschwitz to the
concentration camp in
Germany. Thousands die
from planned starvation
and epidemics at BergenBelsen, which is without
food, heat, medicine, or
Anne and Margot, already
weakened from living in
the concentration camps,
become ill with typhus.
The camp is liberated by
allied troops in 1945, one
month after the death of
Bergen-Belsen becomes overcrowded with
prisoners as the Nazis retreat from
the Eastern Front. At Bergen-Belsen
prisoners have no food, heat, or
medicine. They also do not have any
clean toilets or showers. Due to these
conditions, thousands of people die
from disease and starvation.
Otto Frank is the only one, out
of those hiding in the secret
annex, who survives what became
know as the Holocaust. He is
given Anne's diary pages by Miep
Gies, and he publishes them in
her memory, and in memory of all
those who have died.
Otto Frank (center) with his Opekta staff, the Helpers of the Secret Annex.
He and his second wife, Elfried
Geiringer, also an Auschwitz
survivor, move to Basel,
Switzerland, in 1953. Otto Frank
dies on August 19, 1980, at the
age of ninety-one.
So stirring has been the effect of the solemn-eyed, cheerful, moody, funny, self-critical,
other-critical teenager on those who have read her story that it became a test of ethics to
ask a journalist, If you had proof the diary was a fraud, would you expose it? The point
was that there are some stories the world so needs to believe that it would be profane to
impair their influence. All the same, the Book of Anne has inspired a panoply of
responses — plays, movies, documentaries, biographies, a critical edition of the diary
— all in the service of understanding or imagining the girl or, in some cases, of putting