Anne Frank is without doubt an influential figure of the Second World War. She was not a soldier, nor a general, but the battles she fought would later go down in history.
Anne Frank at school in 1940. Photo: Unknown photographer; Collectie Anne Frank Stichting Amsterdam, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Anne Frank was born in 1929 in Frankfurt am Main, a time when Adolf Hitler was gaining influence on the German political scene due to his anti-Semitic propaganda and the high level of unemployment in the country. These events would mark Anne and her family’s entire lives.
Fleeing the Nazi regime, Otto and Edith Frank moved to the Netherlands, where they hoped to live a better life together with their two daughters, Anne and Margot. Initially, the family lived comfortably in the Netherlands, with Anne and her sister thriving at school.
This all changed after Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, introducing new laws which persecuted the Jewish population, such as forcing them to wear the Star of David. In July 1942, the Frank family were forced into hiding, where they lived with another Jewish family. The hiding place was known as the Achterhuis (Secret Annex), its entrance concealed by a bookcase.
Anne's birthday gift
Shortly before going into hiding, Anne had received a diary for her thirteenth birthday, a gift that would go on to play a major role in her life and legacy. Around the same time, the Dutch Minister of Education made a radio announcement encouraging people to keep journals documenting the events of the War, further motivating Anne to write in her new diary.
During her time in hiding, Anne wrote regular accounts in her diary. In her writing, Anne explored her family relationships, as well as revealing her future plans, such as her dream of becoming a journalist. She kept her diary until 1st August 1944.
The family’s capture
A reconstruction of the bookcase which hid the entrance to the hiding place. Photo: Bungle, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
On 4th August 1944, the Frank family’s hiding place was discovered by the authorities. Together with her mother and sister, Anne was deported to a concentration camp in Auschwitz, while Otto Frank was sent to a camp for men. The outcome for the family was devastating: both Anne and Margo died of typhus, due to the squalid and inhumane conditions of the concentration camps. Their mother, Edith Frank, died of starvation. Otto Frank was the only family member who survived.
Anne’s diary, which was published by Otto Frank in 1947, became a best-seller across the world and was translated into over 70 languages. Whilst Anne’s life was tragically cut short by the atrocities of the Holocaust, her voice lives on in her powerful writing, which reveals the admirable strength and courage of this young woman.
Visit the Anne Frank official website to find out more.