This week in Jewish history | Anne Frank is born - World Jewish Congress

This week in Jewish history | Anne Frank is born

On 12 June 1929, Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany. 

When Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, Anne’s parents feared for the safety of their family, and in autumn 1933, moved to Amsterdam. Through the 1930s, Anne attended school in Amsterdam, where she learned Dutch and had a normal childhood. Anne Frank received a diary for her 13th birthday, which she named “Kitty.” She documented her daily life and struggles she faced.  

In May 1940, Nazi Germany invaded and occupied the Netherlands. Anne expressed her concerns in her diary, writing, “after May 1940, the good times were few and far between... which is when the trouble started for the Jews.” Anne and her sister, Margot, were forced to attend a segregated school and her father, Otto Frank, was forced to sell his business as more restrictions were forced on the Jewish community.  

On 5 July 1942, Anne’s sister Margot was summoned to report to a Nazi work camp. The following day, the Frank family went into hiding. With help from non-Jewish friends, the Frank family and four other Jews hid in an annex for nearly two years, never once leaving the hidden room. 

Through her diary entries, Anne documented both the fears of being discovered in the annex and the troubles adolescent girls face. The diary includes entries with candid questions on romance, her dreams of becoming a journalist, and fights with her mother.  She shared the comfort her diary brought her, writing, “the nicest part [of the diary] is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings; otherwise, I'd absolutely suffocate.”   

Her final diary entry was dated 1 August 1944. She wrote, “I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death, I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness... I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.” 

Three days later, after receiving an anonymous tip, the Frank family was discovered by the Gestapo. Those hiding in the annex were shipped to Camp Westerbork, a concentration camp in the Netherlands. Days later they were transported to Auschwitz and separated. This was the last time Anne would see her father. Anne and her sister were again transferred, this time to Bergen-Belsen. 

Their mother was not permitted to go with them and weeks later, she died in Auschwitz in January 1945, weeks before the camp was liberated on 18 January. 

Both Margot and Anne Frank died during the typhus epidemic in Bergen-Belsen, just weeks before the liberation in April 1945. They were 18 and 15 years old, respectively.  

Otto Frank was the sole survivor of the Frank family. A friend who searched the annex following the Franks’ capture shared Anne’s diary with the grieving father. After a great deal of deliberation, Otto chose to share the diary which was published in July 1947. 

The Secret Annex was published into 1945. The original version omitted some of Anne’s most personal entries. A new English version titled The Diary of Anne Frank was published in 1995 and is nearly one third longer, with more entries published. It has been translated into 65 languages and is the most widely read diary of the Holocaust. Countless screen adaptions, plays have come from her diary. The Anne Frank House, where the annex is located, is one of the most visited sites in Amsterdam.