The story of the Frank
family began in Germany in the 1920's when Otto and Edith
Frank led a happy life, highlighted by the births of their
daughters Margot and Anne. She and her older sister
Margot, frequently spent their summer in Aachen, Germany,
with their grandmother. In 1933, in response to Hitler's
anti-Jewish decrees, Otto Frank opened a branch of his
company, Opteka, in Amsterdam and began planning to bring
his family there.
The Frank family finally
moved into a house on Medwedplein in southern Amsterdam in
1933 and Anne began to attend the nearby Montessori
school, where she excelled. Anne made many friends and was
an exceptional student.
family's feelings of security collapsed, however, when in
Hitler and his troops conquered Holland and the
freedom of the Jews began to be severely restricted.
Dictates on where Jews could shop, swim or go to school
became a part of everyday life.
of where those restrictions might ultimately lead, Otto
Frank spent the year preparing and stocking an annex
behind his business office at Prinsengracht 263 into a
her 13th birthday in 1942 Anne received as a gift from her
parents, a diary. She immediately took to writing her
intimate thoughts and musings. A few short weeks later,
however, Margot received a notice from the Nazi SS to
report for work detail at a labor camp. On July 5th, 1942,
Anne and the Frank family moved to the "Secret
Annex" adjacent to Otto Frank's former office on
thirteen-year-old and her family went into hiding from the
Nazis, the diary went with her. She called it Kitty,
and for the two years she spent in hiding, the diary was
her solace, her confidant, her friend. What she recorded
there were, in many ways, the ordinary thoughts and
feelings of a teenage girl. But she was a teenage girl
living under extraordinary circumstances in ominous times.
Eight people eventually
came to live in the secret annex. There were the four
members of the Frank family, Otto Frank, Edith Frank,
Margot and Anne, three from the Van Pels family, Herman
and Auguste Van Pels and their son Peter, and an elderly
dentist named Pfeffer.
Anne's famous diary
captured two years of hiding in the attic above the store,
but it ended on August 4, 1944, when their hiding place
was betrayed, probably by a Dutch woman Lena Hartog-van
Bladeren. She was one of the cleaning women working in the
office in front of the annex ...
All those who lived there
were arrested by the Nazis and deported to concentration
As the Gestapo men
searched the annex for valuables such as money, the
briefcase in which Anne kept her writings was opened and
the papers were scattered on the floor. Little did these
men realize the eventual value of these materials.
However, the two women, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, had
known of Anne's intense feelings about these papers and
gathered them up for safe keeping.
A few weeks later, as the
Allies began retaking Holland, the inhabitants of the camp
were moved to Auschwitz
and later to other camps. At the gates of Auschwitz, Otto
Frank was separated from his family for the last time.
Otto Frank was the only
one of the original 8 residents of the secret annex to
survive. Van Pels died in the Auschwitz gas chambers and
Pfeffer died at the Neuengamme camp in Germany.
and Margot ultimately ended up
in the Bergen-Belsen
camp in Germany, after being evacuated from Auschwitz
in October, 1944. As starvation. cold and disease swept
through the camp's population, Margot, developed typhus and died. A few days later, Anne herself,
in April, 1945, succumbed to the disease a few weeks
before the camp was liberated by the British. She was 15
years old ...
Though she never lived to
see her 16th birthday, Anne Frank's innermost thoughts
scribbled on scraps of paper challenge us, and shame us, a
full fifty years after her death. Her life serves as
eulogy to the millions of children who perished in World
not leave her legacy as an ode to the past - but as a
beacon of hope to the future ...
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