Anneliese Marie "Anne" Frank (June 12, 1929—February/March, 1945) was a German born Jewish refugee who died in Bergen-Belsen. Her diary of two years in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II became internationally known after its publication in 1947. It has been translated into more than seventy languages and is recognized as one of the most widely read books of the twentieth century.
Although Anne's life was short, her vivaciousness and very insightful written observations of life in hiding and the personalities around her offered stark contrast to the context of the writing and her untimely end. She was a bright flame that was quickly snuffed out.
Anne's diary gives an unparalleled account of life for this Jewish girl and her family as they tried in vain to outwit the genocide delivered by Nazi Germany.
Anne Frank was born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the second daughter of Otto Heinrich Frank (May 12, 1889—August 19, 1980) and Edith Holländer (January 16, 1900—January 6, 1945). Margot Frank (February 16, 1926—February/March, 1945) was her sister. Her given name was Anneliese Marie, but to her family and friends, she was simply "Anne." Her father sometimes called her "Annelein" ("little Anne").
The family lived in an assimilated community of Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. The children grew up with Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish friends. The Franks were Reform Jews, observing many of the traditions of the Jewish faith without observing many of its customs. Edith Frank was the more devout parent, while Otto Frank, a decorated German officer from World War I, was interested in scholarly pursuits and had an extensive library. Both parents encouraged Anne and Margot to read.
On March 13, 1933, elections were held in Frankfurt for the municipal council. Adolf Hitler's National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party) won. Anti-Semitic demonstrations occurred almost immediately. The Franks began to fear what would happen to them if they remained in Germany. Later in the year, Edith and the children went to Aachen, where they stayed with Edith's mother, Rosa Holländer. Otto Frank remained in Frankfurt, but after receiving an offer to start a company in Amsterdam, he moved there to organize the business and to arrange accommodation for his family.
Otto Frank began working at the Opekta Works, a company which sold the fruit extract pectin. He soon found an apartment on the Merwedeplein (Merwede Square) in an Amsterdam suburb. By February 1934, Edith and the children had arrived in Amsterdam. The girls were enrolled in school—Margot in public school and Anne in a Montessori school. Margot demonstrated ability in arithmetic, and Anne showed aptitude for reading and writing. Anne and Margot were highly distinct personalities. Margot was well mannered, reserved, and studious, while Anne was outspoken, energetic, and extroverted. Her friend Hannah Goslar later recalled that from early childhood, Anne wrote frequently. She kept her work secret, refusing to discuss the content. These early writings did not survive.
In 1938, Otto Frank started a second company in partnership with Hermann van Pels, a butcher, who had fled Osnabrück, Germany with his family. In 1939, Edith's mother came to live with the Franks. She remained with them until her death in January 1942.
Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. The occupation government began to persecute Jews by the implementation of restrictive and discriminatory laws. Mandatory registration and segregation of Jews soon followed. Margot and Anne were excelling in their studies and had a large number of friends. But with the introduction of a decree that Jewish children could only attend Jewish schools, they were enrolled at the Jewish Lyceum.
For her thirteenth birthday on June 12, 1942, Anne received a small notebook which she had pointed out to her father in a shop window a few days earlier. It was an autograph book, bound with red and white plaid cloth and a small lock on the front. Anne had already decided she would use it as a diary. She began writing in it almost immediately, describing herself, her family and friends, her school life, boys she flirted with and the places she liked to visit in her neighborhood. While these early entries demonstrate that, in many ways, her life was that of a typical schoolgirl, she also refers to changes that had taken place since the German occupation. Some references are seemingly casual and not emphasized. However, in some entries Anne provides more detail of the oppression that was steadily increasing. For instance, she wrote about the yellow star which all Jews were forced to wear in public. She also listed some of the restrictions and persecutions that had encroached on the lives of Amsterdam's Jewish population.
In July 1942, Margot Frank received a call-up notice from the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung (Central Office for Jewish Immigration) ordering her to report for relocation to a work camp. Anne was then told of a plan that Otto had formulated with his most trusted employees. Edith and Margot had been informed of the plan a short time prior. The family was to go into hiding in rooms above and behind the company's premises on the Prinsengracht, a street along one of Amsterdam's canals.
On the morning of Monday, July 6, 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. Otto Frank left a note that hinted they were going to Switzerland. The need for secrecy forced them to leave behind Anne's cat, Moortje. Since Jews were not allowed to use public transport, they walked several kilometers from their home. Each of them wore several layers of clothing. They did not dare to be seen carrying luggage.
The Achterhuis (a Dutch word denoting the rear part of a house, translated as the "Secret Annex" in English editions of the diary) was a three-story space at the rear of the building. It was entered from a landing above the Opekta offices. Two small rooms, with an adjoining bathroom and toilet, were on the first level. Above that there was a large open room, with a small room beside it. From this smaller room, a ladder led to the attic. The door to the Achterhuis was later covered by a bookcase to ensure it remained undiscovered. The main building, situated a block from the Westerkerk, was nondescript, old and typical of buildings in the western quarters of Amsterdam.
Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Miep Gies, and Bep Voskuijl were the only employees who knew of the people in hiding. Gies' husband, Jan and Voskuijl's father Johannes Hendrik Voskuijl, were their "helpers" during their confinement. They provided the only contact between the outside world and the occupants of the house. They also kept the Frank family informed of war news and political developments. They catered to 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 their efforts to boost morale within the household during the most dangerous times. All were aware that if caught they could face the death penalty for sheltering Jews.
In late July, the Franks were joined by the van Pels family: Hermann van Pels, Auguste van Pels, and 16-year-old Peter van Pels. In November, the group was joined by Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist and friend of the family. Anne wrote about the pleasure of having new people to talk to. But tensions quickly developed within the group forced to live in such confined conditions. After sharing her room with Pfeffer, Anne found him to be insufferable. She clashed with Auguste van Pels, whom she regarded as foolish. Her relationship with her mother was strained. Anne wrote that they had little in common because her mother was too remote. Although she sometimes argued with Margot, she wrote of an unexpected bond that had developed between them. She remained closest emotionally to her father. Some time later, after first dismissing the shy and awkward Peter van Pels, the two entered a romance.
Anne spent most of her time reading and studying, while continuing to write and edit her diary. In addition to providing a narrative of events as they occurred, she also wrote about her feelings, beliefs and ambitions, subjects she felt she could not discuss with anyone. As her confidence in her writing grew, and as she began to mature, she wrote about more abstract subjects such as her belief in God, and her defintion of human nature. She continued writing regularly until her final entry on August 1, 1944.
On the morning of August 4, 1944, the Achterhuis was stormed by the German Security Police (Grüne Polizei) following a tip-off from an informer who was never identified. Led by Schutzstaffel Oberscharführer Karl Silberbauer of the Sicherheitsdienst, the group included at least three Security Police. The occupants were loaded into trucks and taken for interrogation. Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman were taken away and subsequently jailed, but Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl were allowed to go. They later returned to the Achterhuis, and found Anne's papers strewn on the floor. They collected them, as well as several family photograph albums. Gies resolved to return them to Anne after the war.
The members of the household were taken to the Gestapo headquarters where they were interrogated and held overnight. On August 5, they were transferred to the Huis van Bewaring (House of Detention), an overcrowded prison on the Weteringschans. Two days later the eight Jewish prisoners were transported to Westerbork in the Netherlands. More than 100,000 Jews had passed through this transit camp. Because they were arrested in hiding, they were considered criminals and were sent to the Punishment Barracks for hard labour.
On September 3, the group was deported on the last transport from Westerbork to the Auschwitz concentration camp. They arrived three days later, and were separated by gender. The men and women never saw each other again. Of the 1019 passengers, 549 people—including all children under the age of fifteen years—were selected and sent directly to the gas chambers. Anne had turned fifteen three months earlier and was spared. Everyone from the Achterhuis survived this selection, but Anne believed her father had been killed.
With the females not selected for immediate death, Anne was forced to strip naked to be disinfected, had her head shaved and was tattooed with an identifying number on her arm. By day, the women were used as slave labour. By night, they were crowded into freezing barracks. Disease was rampant. Before long Anne's skin became badly infected by scabies.
On October 28, 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. Edith Frank was left behind. Tents were erected at Bergen-Belsen to accommodate the influx of prisoners, including Anne and Margot. As the population rose, the death toll due to disease increased rapidly.
Anne was briefly reunited with two friends, Hanneli Goslar (nicknamed "Lies" in the diary) and Nanette Blitz, who both survived the war. Blitz described Anne as bald, emaciated and shivering. Goslar said that although Anne was ill herself, Anne was more concerned about her sister. Margot's illness was more severe. She stayed in her bunk, too weak to walk. Anne told her friends she believed her parents were dead.
In March 1945, a typhus epidemic spread through the camp, killing an estimated 17,000 prisoners. Witnesses later testified that Margot fell from her bunk in her weakened state and was killed by the shock. A few days later Anne was dead too, only a few weeks before the camp was liberated by British troops on April 15, 1945.
Otto Frank survived and returned to Amsterdam. He learned that his wife had died and his daughters had been transferred to Bergen-Belsen. Although he remained hopeful that they had survived, in July 1945, the Red Cross confirmed the deaths of Anne and Margot. It was only then that Miep Gies gave him the diary. Otto read it and later commented that he had not realized Anne had kept such an accurate and well-written record of their time together. Moved by her repeated wish to be an author, he began to consider having it published. When asked many years later to recall his first reaction he said simply, "I never knew my little Anne was so deep."
Anne candidly described her life, her family and companions and their predicament. Her ambition to write fiction for publication emerged. In the spring of 1944, she heard a radio broadcast by Gerrit Bolkestein—a member of the Dutch government in exile. He announced 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. Anne decided she would submit her work when the time came. She began editing her writing with publication in mind. Her original notebook was supplemented by additional notebooks and loose sheets of paper. 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. Otto Frank used her original diary, "version A," and her edited version, "version B," to produce the first version for publication. He removed passages which referred to his wife in unflattering terms, and sections that discussed Anne's growing sexuality. He restored the true identities of his family and retained all other pseudonyms.
Otto gave the diary to historian Anne Romein, who tried unsuccessfully to have it published. She then gave it to her husband Jan Romein, who wrote an article about it, titled "Kinderstem" ("A Child's Voice"), published in the newspaper Het Parool]] on April 3, 1946. He wrote that the diary "stammered out in a child's voice, embodies all the hideousness of fascism, more so than all the evidence at Nuremberg put together" His article attracted attention from publishers. The diary was published in 1947, followed by a second run in 1950. The first American edition was published in 1952, under the title Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. A play based upon the diary, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, premiered in New York City on October 5, 1955, and later won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was followed by the 1959 movie The Diary of Anne Frank, which was a critical and commercial success. Over the years the popularity of the diary grew. In many schools, particularly in the United States, it was included as part of the curriculum.
In 1986, the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation published the so-called "critical edition" of the diary. It includes comparisons from all known versions. It includes discussion asserting authentication and additional historical information about the family and the diary.
In 1999, Cornelis Suijk—a former director of the Anne Frank Foundation and president of the U.S. Center for Holocaust Education Foundation announced that he had five pages from the diary that had been removed by Otto Frank prior to publication. Suijk claimed that Otto Frank had given him these pages shortly before his death in 1980. These entries contain critical remarks by Anne about her parents' strained marriage, and show Anne's lack of affection for her mother
Some controversy ensued when Suijk claimed publishing rights over the five pages, intending to sell them to raise money for his U.S. Foundation. The Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, the formal owner of the manuscript, demanded the pages. In 2000, the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science agreed to donate US$ 300,000 to Suijk's Foundation, and the pages were returned in 2001. Since then, they have been included in new editions of the diary.
In her introduction to the diary's first American edition, Eleanor Roosevelt described it as "one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read." The Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenburg later said: "one voice speaks for six million—the voice not of a sage or a poet but of an ordinary little girl." 
As Anne Frank's stature as both a writer and humanist has grown, she has been discussed specifically as a symbol of the Holocaust and more broadly as a representative of persecution. Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her acceptance speech for an Elie Wiesel Humanitarian Award in 1994, read from Anne Frank's diary and spoke of her "awakening us to the folly of indifference and the terrible toll it takes on our young," which Clinton related to contemporary events in Sarajevo, Somalia and Rwanda.
After receiving a humanitarian award from the Anne Frank Foundation in 1994, Nelson Mandela addressed a crowd in Johannesburg, saying he had read Anne Frank's diary while in prison and "derived much encouragement from it." He likened her struggle against Nazism to his struggle against apartheid, drawing a parallel between the two philosophies with the comment "because these beliefs are patently false, and because they were, and will always be, challenged by the likes of Anne Frank, they are bound to fail."
In her closing message in Melissa Müller's biography of Anne Frank, Miep Gies attempted to dispel what she felt was a growing misconception that "Anne symbolizes the six million victims of the Holocaust," writing: "Anne's life and death were her own individual fate, an individual fate that happened six million times over. Anne cannot, and should not, stand for the many individuals whom the Nazis robbed of their lives33But her fate helps us grasp the immense loss the world suffered because of the Holocaust."
The diary has also been praised for its literary merits. The dramatist Meyer Levin, who worked with Otto Frank on a dramatization of the diary shortly after its publication – praised it for "sustaining the tension of a well-constructed novel" . The poet John Berryman wrote that it was a unique depiction, not merely of adolescence but of "the mysterious, fundamental process of a child becoming an adult as it is actually happening" . Anne's biographer Melissa Müller said that she wrote "in a precise, confident, economical style stunning in its honesty." Her writing is largely a study of characters. She examines every person in her circle with a shrewd, uncompromising eye. She is occasionally cruel and often biased, particularly in her depictions of Fritz Pfeffer and her mother. Müller explained that Anne channeled the "normal mood swings of adolescence" into her writing. Her examination of herself and her surroundings is sustained over a lengthy period of time in an introspective, analytical and highly self critical manner. In moments of frustration she related the battle being fought within herself between the "good Anne" she wanted to be, and the "bad Anne" she believed herself to be. Otto Frank recalled his publisher explaining why he thought the diary has been so widely read, with the comment "the diary encompasses so many areas of life that each reader can find something that moves him personally."
In June 1999, Time Magazine published a special edition titled TIME 100: Heroes & Icons of the 20th Century. Anne Frank was selected as one of the 'Heroes & Icons'. The writer Roger Rosenblatt, author of Children of War, wrote Anne Frank's entry. In the article he describes her legacy:
The passions the book ignites suggest that everyone owns Anne Frank, that she has risen above the Holocaust, Judaism, girlhood and even goodness and become a totemic figure of the modern world—the moral individual mind beset by the machinery of destruction, insisting on the right to live and question and hope for the future of human beings.
On May 3, 1957, a group of citizens including Otto Frank established the Anne Frank Foundation in an effort to rescue the Prinsengracht building from demolition and to make it accessible to the public. Otto Frank insisted that the aim of the foundation would be to foster contact and communication between young people of different cultures, religions or racial backgrounds, and to oppose intolerance and racism.
The Anne Frank House opened on May 3, 1960. It consists of the Opekta warehouse and offices and the Achterhuis, all unfurnished so that visitors can walk freely through the rooms. Some personal relics of the former occupants remain, such as movie star photographs glued by Anne to a wall, a section of wallpaper on which Otto Frank marked the height of his growing daughters, and a map where he recorded the advance of the Allied Forces, all now protected behind Perspex sheets. From the small room which was once home to Peter van Pels, a walkway connects the building to its neighbours, also purchased by the Foundation. These other buildings are used to house the diary, as well as changing exhibits that chronicle different aspects of the Holocaust and more contemporary examinations of racial intolerance in various parts of the world. It has become one of Amsterdam's main tourist attractions, and is visited by more than half a million people each year.
In 1963, Otto Frank and his second wife Elfriede Geiringer-Markovits set up the Anne Frank Fonds as a charitable foundation, based in Basel, Switzerland. The Fonds raises money to donate to causes "as it sees fit." Upon his death, Otto willed the diary's copyright to the Fonds, on the provison that the first 80,000 Swiss francs in income each year were to be distributed to his heirs. Any income above this figure was to be retained by the Fonds to use for whatever projects its administrators considered worthy. It provides funding for the medical treatment of the Righteous Among the Nations on a yearly basis. It has aimed to educate young people against racism and has loaned some of Anne Frank's papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. for an exhibition in 2003. Its annual report of the same year gave some indication of its effort to contribute on a global level, with support for projects in Germany, Israel, India, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States
Elementary schools in both Dallas, Texas (Dallas ISD) and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (School District of Philadelphia) have been named "Anne Frank Elementary School" for her.
The life and writings of Anne Frank have inspired a diverse group of artists and social commentators and have given generations of young people an eye witness account of life within the ugly reality of fascism.
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