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 re- belled long ago! There’s a destructive urge in people, the urge to rage, murder and kill. And until all of humanity, without exception, undergoes a metamorphosis, wars will continue to be waged, and everything that has been carefully built up, cultivated and grown will be cut down and destroyed, only to start allover again!
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank is a Jewish girl who has to go into hiding during World War Two to avoid the Nazis. Together with seven others she hides in the secret annex on the Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam. After almost 2 years in hiding they are discovered and deported to concentration camps. Anne’s father, Otto Frank, is the only one of the eight people to survive. After her death Anne becomes world famous because of the diary she wrote while in hiding.
Life in germany
Anne Frank was born on 12 June 1929 in the German town of Frankfurt am Main. Her father’s family had lived here for generations. Anne’s sister, Margot is three and a half years older. The economic crisis, Hitler’s rise to power and growing antisemitism put an end to the family’s carefree life. Otto Frank and his wife Edith decide, just as many other German Jews, to leave Germany.
A new life in the Netherlands
Otto can set up a business in Amsterdam and the family finds a home on the Merwedeplein. The children go to school, Otto works hard in his business and Edith looks after the home. As the threat of war in Europe increases, Otto and his family try to emigrate to England and the U.S.A. but these attempts fail. On 1 September 1939 Germany invades Poland and World War Two starts.
War in the Netherlands
For a while there is hope that The Netherlands will not become involved in the war, but on 10 May 1940 German troops invade the country. Five days later The Netherlands surrenders and is occupied. Anti-Jewish regulations soon follow. Jews are allowed to go to less and less places, Anne and Margot must attend a Jewish school and Otto loses his business.
When a renewed attempt to emigrate to the U.S.A. fails, Otto and Edith decide to go into hiding. Otto furnishes the house behind his business premises on the Prinsengracht and this becomes the hiding place. He does this together with his Jewish business partner Hermann van Pels and help from employees Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler.
A raid in the summer of 1943, in the neighbourhood of Merwedeplein, where the Frank family lived before they went into hiding.
On 5 July 1942 Margot Frank receives a call-up to report for a German work camp. The next day the Frank family goes into hiding. The Van Pels family follow a week later and in November 1942 an eighth person arrives; dentist Fritz Pfeffer . They remain in the secret annex for just over two years.
The people in hiding must stay very quiet, they are often afraid and despite good and bad times, spend most of it together. They are helped by the office workers Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, by Miep’s husband Jan Gies and warehouse boss Johannes Voskuijl, Bep’s father. These helpers not only arrange food, clothes and books, they are contact with the outside world for the people in hiding.
The Hiding place
The hiding place is located in an empty section of the building owned by Otto Frank’s company. While business continues, as usual, in the front part of the building, there are people hiding in the annex out back.
The business on Prinsengracht 263 is in the area where many small companies are located. There is a tea company located on the left and a furniture company on the right of the Secret Annex
The Movable Bookcase Behind this (movable) bookcase is the entrance to the Secret Annex (Photo: Maria Austria, 1954).
The hiding place at 263 Prinsengracht is relatively spacious. There is enough room for two families. This is unusual given that parents and children who go into hiding are frequently separated from each other. Most hiding places are small spaces in damp cellars or dusty attics. People hiding in the countryside are sometimes able go outside, but only if there is no danger of them being discovered.
A bookcase conceals the door
Unusually, the hiding place consists of a number of different spaces (photo of the refurnished secret annex: Allard Bovenberg).
Before too long, the entrance to the Secret Annex is concealed behind a movable bookcase. Father Voskuijl, the warehouse manager, constructs the movable bookcase to conceal the entrance to the Secret Annex.
“Now our Secret Annex has truly become secret…Mr. Kugler thought it would be better to have a bookcase built in front of the entrance to our hiding place. It swings out on its hinges and opens like a door. Mr. Voskuijl did the carpentry work. (Mr. Voskuijl has been told that the seven of us are in hiding, and he’s been most helpful.),”
Anne writes this in her diary on August 21, 1942, when there there are still only seven people in hiding. Fritz Pfeffer joins the group at a later date, on November 16, 1942.
The entrance to the Secret Annex is soon concealed by a moveable bookcase (photo of the refurnished secret annex: Allard Bovenberg).
A diary as a best friend
Shortly before going into hiding Anne receives a diary for her birthday. She starts writing straightaway and during her time in hiding she writes about events in the secret annex and about herself. Her diary is a great support to her. Anne also writes short stories and collects her favorite sentences by other writers in a notebook.
When the Minister of Education makes a request on the radio for people to keep war diaries, Anne decides to edit her diary and create a novel called ‘The Secret Annex’. She starts to rewrite her diary, but before she has finished, she and the other people in hiding are arrested.
Arrested and deported
On 4 August 1944 the people in hiding along with helpers Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler are arrested. Via the Sichterheidsdienst headquarters, prison and transit camp Westerbork they are deported to Auschwitz. The two helpers are sent to the Amersfoort camp. Johannes Kleiman is released shortly after his arrest and six months later Victor Kugler escapes. Immediately after the arrest Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl rescue Anne’s diary and papers that have been left behind in the secret annex. Despite intensive investigations it has never been clear how the hiding place was discovered.
Otto Frank Returns
Frank is the only one of the eight people in hiding to survive the war. During his long journey back to The Netherlands he learns that his wife, Edith, has died. He knows nothing about his daughters and still hopes to see them again. He arrives back in Amsterdam at the beginning of July. He goes straight to Miep and Jan Gies and remains with them for another seven years.
Otto Frank tries to find his daughters but in July receives news that they have both died of disease and deprivation in Bergen-Belsen. Miep Gies then gives him Anne’s diary and papers. Otto reads the diary and discovers a completely different Anne. He is very moved by her writing.
Anne wrote in her diary that she wanted to be a writer or a journalist and that she wanted her diary published as a novel. Otto Frank’s friends convince him of the great expressiveness of her diary and on 25 June 1947, ‘The Secret Annex’ is published in an edition of 3.000. Many more editions, translations , a play and a film follow .
People from all over the world learn of Anne Frank’s story. Over the years Otto Frank answers thousands of letters from people who have read his daughter’s diary. In 1960 the Anne Frank House becomes a museum. Otto Frank remains involved with the Anne Frank House and campaigns for human rights and respect until his death in 1980.
- Keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart – Anne Frank
- How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world – Anne Frank
- Whoever is happy will make others happy too – Anne Frank
- I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains – Anne Frank
- Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy – Anne Frank
- Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands -Anne Frank
- No one has ever become poor by giving – Anne Frank
- We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same – Anne Frank
- Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction Anne Frank
- Ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out – Anne Frank
- Who would ever think that so much went on in the soul of a young girl? – Anne Frank
- If I read a book that impresses me, I have to take myself firmly by the hand, before I mix with other people; otherwise they would think my mind rather queer -Anne Frank
- Hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death… I think… peace and tranquillity will return again -Anne Frank
- I soothe my conscience now with the thought that it is better for hard words to be on paper than that Mummy should carry them in her heart -Anne Frank
- Boys will be boys. And even that wouldn’t matter if only we could prevent girls from being girls – Anne Frank
- Parents can only advise their children or point them in the right direction. Ultimately people shape their own characters – Anne Frank
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