Annelies Marie "Anne" Frank was born on 12 June 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany, the second daughter of Otto and Edith Frank. Her sister, Margot, was 3 years older.
In March 1933, elections were held in Frankfurt and Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party won. Anti-semitic demonstrations occurred almost immediately, and the Franks began to fear what would happen to them if they remained in Germany.
After receiving an offer to start a company in Holland, Otto Frank moved his family to Amsterdam. The Franks were among about 300,000 Jews who fled Germany between 1933 and 1939.
By February 1934, the family had arrived in Amsterdam, and the two girls were enrolled in school. Margot and Anne had highly distinct personalities, Margot being well-mannered, reserved, and studious, while Anne was outspoken, energetic, and extroverted.
[The Frank's flat in Merwedeplein]
In 1938, Otto Frank started a second company, Pectacon.
In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands and the occupation government began to persecute Jews through restrictive and discriminatory laws. Mandatory registration and segregation soon followed. As a result, Margot and Anne were forced to leave school.
If you are not familiar with the history of World War 2, the following site will be helpful:
In April 1941, Otto Frank took action to prevent Opekta and Pectacon from being confiscated as a Jewish-owned business.
The businesses, under new directorship, continued with little obvious change and their survival allowed Otto Frank to earn a minimal income, sufficient to provide for his family.
For her thirteenth birthday on 12 June 1942, Anne received a book she had shown her father in a shop window a few days earlier. Although it was an autograph book, bound with red-and-green plaid cloth and with a small lock on the front, Anne decided she would use it as a diary, and began writing in it almost immediately.
[The actual diary of Anne Frank]
In July 1942, Margot Frank received a call-up notice from the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung (Central Office for Jewish Emigration) ordering her to report for relocation to a work camp in Germany.
[Margot's call-up notice]
Anne was told by her father that the family would go into hiding in rooms above and behind the company's premises on the Prinsengracht, a street along one of Amsterdam's canals, where some of Otto Frank's most trusted employees would help them.
[The Office is highlighted in blue, and the Annex in green]
The call-up notice forced them to relocate several weeks earlier than had been anticipated.
On the morning of Monday, 6 July 1942, the family moved into the hiding place. Their apartment was left in a state of disarray to create the impression that they had left suddenly, and Otto Frank left a note that hinted they were going to Switzerland.
As Jews were not allowed to use public transport, they walked several kilometers from their home, with each of them wearing several layers of clothing as they did not dare to be seen carrying luggage.
The Achterhuis (rear part of the house, or annex) was a three-story space entered from a landing above the Opekta offices.
Two small rooms, with an adjoining bathroom and toilet, were on the first level, and above that a larger open room, with a small room beside it. From this smaller room, a ladder led to the attic.
[Map of the Annex]
The door to the Achterhuis (annex) was later covered by a bookcase to ensure it remained undiscovered.
Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Miep Gies, and Bep Voskuijl were the only employees who knew of the people in hiding, and with Gies's husband Jan and Voskuijl's father Johannes, were their "helpers" for the duration of their confinement.
These helpers provided the only connection to the outside world and they brought news of the war.
They also catered for all of their needs, ensured their safety and supplied them with food, a task that grew more difficult with the passage of time. Anne wrote of their dedication and of their efforts to boost morale within the household during the most dangerous of times. All were aware that if caught they could face the death penalty for sheltering Jews.
[Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl]
On 13 July, the Franks were joined by the van Pels family: Hermann, Auguste, and 16-year-old Peter, and then in November by Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist and friend of the family.
Anne wrote of her pleasure at having new people to talk to, but tensions quickly developed. After sharing her room with Pfeffer, she found him to be insufferable and resented his intrusion, and she clashed with Auguste van Pels, whom she regarded as foolish.
Some time later, after first dismissing the shy and awkward Peter van Pels, she entered into a romance with him. She received her first kiss from him but she questioned whether her feelings were genuine.
[Peter van Pels]
Anne Frank also formed a close bond with the helpers, and particularly with Bep Voskuijl.
Most of Anne's time was spent reading and studying, and she regularly wrote and edited her diary entries. She aspired to become a journalist, writing in her diary on Wednesday, 5 April 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 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 develop myself and to express all that’s inside me! 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?”
She continued writing regularly until her final entry of August 1, 1944.
On the morning of 4 August 1944, the Achterhuis was stormed by the German Security Police (Grüne Polizei) following a tip-off from an informer who was never identified. The Franks, van Pelses and Pfeffer were taken to the Gestapo headquarters where they were interrogated.
Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman were also arrested and jailed. Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl were questioned and threatened by the Security Police but were not detained.
Miep and Bep returned to the Achterhuis the following day, and found Anne's papers strewn on the floor. Miep collected them, as well as several family photograph albums, and resolved to return them to Anne after the war.
On September 3, the group was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and arrived after a three-day journey. On arrival, the men were forcibly separated from the women and children.
For a deeper understanding of the horrors of Auschwitz, go to the following site:
Of the 1,019 passengers, 549 (including all children younger than fifteen) were sent directly to the gas chambers. Anne had turned fifteen three months earlier and was one of the youngest people to be spared.
Disease was rampant and before long, Anne's skin became badly infected by scabies. She and Margot were moved into an infirmary, which was in a state of constant darkness and infested with rats and mice. Edith Frank stopped eating, saving every morsel of food for her daughters and passing her rations to them, through a hole she made at the bottom of the infirmary wall.
On 28 October, selections began for women to be relocated to Bergen-Belsen. More than 8,000 women, including Anne and Margot Frank and Auguste van Pels, were transported, but Edith Frank was left behind and later died from starvation.
Anne was briefly reunited with two friends, Hanneli Goslar and Nanette Blitz. Blitz later described her as bald, emaciated and shivering. Anne told them that she believed her parents to be dead, and for that reason did not wish to live any longer.
In March 1945, a typhus epidemic spread through the camp and killed approximately 17,000 prisoners.
Witnesses testified that, shortly before the liberation of the camp, Margot fell from her bunk in her weakened state and was killed by the shock. A few days later Anne died. They were buried in a mass grave, the exact whereabouts of which is unknown.
[Memorial to the Frank sisters at Bergen-belsen]
Only Otto Frank survived. After the war, he returned to Amsterdam where he was sheltered by Jan and Miep Gies while he attempted to locate his family. In July 1945, after the Red Cross confirmed the deaths of Anne and Margot, Miep Gies gave Otto Frank the diary, along with a bundle of loose notes that she had saved.
Otto Frank, moved by his daughter’s wish to be an author, set about having it published.
[A page from Anne's diary]
Anne's diary had begun as a private expression of her thoughts and she wrote several times that she would never allow anyone to read it.
However, in March 1944, she heard a radio broadcast by Gerrit Bolkestein (a member of the Dutch government in exile) who said that when the war ended, he would create a public record of the Dutch people's oppression under German occupation. He mentioned the publication of letters and diaries, and Anne decided to submit her work when the time came.
[A page from Anne's diary]
She began editing her writing, removing sections and rewriting others, with the view to publication. Her original notebook was supplemented by additional notebooks and loose-leaf sheets of paper.
[A page from Anne's diary]
She created pseudonyms for the members of the household and the helpers. The van Pels family became Hermann, Petronella, and Peter van Daan, and Fritz Pfeffer became Albert Düssell. In this edited version, she also addressed each entry to "Kitty”.
The diary was published in the Netherlands as “Het Achterhuis” in 1947.
[1st edition of what would become 'The Diary of Anne Frank']
A play based upon the diary, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, premiered in New York City on 5 October 1955, and later won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
In June 1999, Time magazine published a special edition titled "Time 100: The Most Important People of the 20th Century". Anne Frank was selected as one of the "Heroes & Icons.
Pretend you are a journalist. Compile 5 open-ended questions that you would have asked Anne about her life.
Think carefully about your family. What present would you make for each of them for Hanukkah? Write a description of the present and give a reason for your choice.
Write a love letter from Anne to Peter or from Peter to Anne.
Petronella van Daan liked to flirt with men. Write an imaginary dialogue between Mrs van Daan and Mr Frank, where Mrs van Daan is being flirtatious but Mr Frank is 'shutting her down'.
Mr Dussell was not happy about sharing a room with Anne. Compile a list of 5 Rules that you think Mr Dussell would have liked to enforce in the room.
On Monday October 19, 1942, Miep and Jan Gies stayed the night in the Secret Annex. Both Anne Frank and Miep Gies later described the experience:
We had lots of fun on Monday. Miep and Jan spent the night with us. Margot and I slept in Father and Mother's room for the night so the Gieses could have our beds. The menu was drawn up in their honour, and the meal was delicious. The festivities were briefly interrupted when Father's lamp caused a short circuit and we were suddenly plunged into darkness. What were we to do? We did have fuses, but the fuse box was at the rear of the dark warehouse, which made this a particularly unpleasant job at night. Still, the men ventured forth, and ten minutes later we were able to put away the candles.
I was up early this morning. Jan was already dressed. Since he had to leave at eight-thirty, he was upstairs eating breakfast by eight. Miep was busy getting dressed, and I found her in her undershirt when I came in. She wears the same kind of long underwear I do when she bicycles. Margot and I threw on our clothes as well and were upstairs earlier than usual. After a pleasant breakfast, Miep headed downstairs. It was pouring outside and she was glad she didn't have to bicycle to work.
Daddy and I made the beds, and afterward I learned five irregular French verbs. Quite industrious, don't you think?
Each of our friends greeted us happily as we made our way upstairs. “The last worker has gone,” I informed him. Right away, there were voices, footsteps, the toilet flushing, a cabinet shutting. Already, it was noisy upstairs; the place had come alive.
With the blackout frames up and the electric light on, along with the heat from the cooking, the room became toasty-warm, cozy. We sat long over coffee and dessert, talking, our friends devouring the novelty of our presence. They seemed to be insatiable for our company.
As I sat, I became aware of what is meant to be imprisoned in these small rooms. As this feeling registered, I felt a taste of the helpless fear that these people were filled with, day and night. Yes, for all of us it was wartime, but Jan and I had the freedom to come and go as we pleased, to stay in or go out. These people were in a prison, a prison with locks inside the doors.
All through the night I heard each ringing of the Wesertoren clock. I never slept; I couldn’t close my eyes. I heard the sound of a rainstorm begin, the wind come up. The quietness of the place was overwhelming. The fright of these people who were locked up here was so thick I could feel it pressing down on me. I was like a thread of terror pulled taut. It was so terrible it never let me close my eyes. For the first time I knew what it was like to be a Jew in hiding.
Now answer the following questions on the two accounts in your workbook, using FULL SENTENCES:
Which experiences from the stay did Anne emphasise?
Which experiences from the stay did Miep emphasise?
What emotions did Anne feel during the stay?
What emotions did Miep feel during the stay?
In what way were these emotional responses different?
The following link takes you to the website of Miep Gies where she has posted the fascinating answers to 100 frequently asked questions about the annex and the families who lived within: