Anne Frank is quite possibly the most famous victim of the Holocaust or Shoah. Captured by an SS officer in 1944, after two years in hiding in Amsterdam, she was first sent to Auschwitz and finally to Bergen-Belsen. She died in early 1945 in Bergen-Belsen during a Typhus outbreak, although her cause and date of death were never officially recorded. Her sister died within a week or two of her. Of the eight Jews who hid in the annex in Amsterdam, Anne’s father, Otto Frank, is the only one who survived.
Anne wrote two versions of her diary while in hiding. The first was more personal and focused on the trials of growing up in a stressful time and living in relative social isolation. The second was inspired by a BBC broadcast asking people in the Netherlands to document their experiences under the Nazis to create a historical record of their atrocities. With an eye towards becoming a journalist and writer, Anne rewrote her diary with a more historical slant intended for publication. Her journal, edited by her father, has become one of the most widely read books in the world. Few children go through school without learning about the haunting diary.
30. Anne Frank’s Family Lived In Hiding For Two Years
The Frank family lived in Amsterdam for many years after fleeing Nazi Germany due to fears over their anti-Semitic policies. Otto worked for a company that sold spices and fruit pectin as their agent in Amsterdam. After the initial Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, he made his business look “Aryan” by transferring financial control to gentiles. When Jewish persecution intensified in the Netherlands, he was forced to go into hiding with his family and Jewish friends.
29. Her Family Fled Germany Only To Have To Hide In Amsterdam
Despite having faithfully served in the German army during World War I, Otto Frank received no consideration when Germany began persecuting Jews. He fled with his family to the Netherlands in 1932, eventually setting in Amsterdam in 1933. However, the Netherlands didn’t remain safe for long, with the Nazis invading in 1940. As they increased their violence and persecution towards Jews, Frank took his family into hiding in 1942.
28. Anne Is Her Nickname; Her Full Name is Annelies
Anne Frank was born Annelies Marie Frank on June 12th, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. She was born to liberal Jewish German parents who did not strictly follow the tenets of Judaism. She was raised in a liberal neighborhood where Jews and gentiles lived together. Her father encouraged his children to read and attain education. Anne was forced to flee her country to avoid Nazi persecution at only four years of age. She would be forced to go into hiding at just 13 years old.
27. Living In Isolation, She Wrote Her Diary Entries To Someone Named Kitty
Despite living with seven other people in a tiny, enclosed area, Anne Frank felt very alone. Many of her diary entries speak of loneliness and having no one her own age to talk to. She had complicated relationships with her mother and sister, primarily when she was younger. Perhaps due to this loneliness, Frank addressed many of her diary entries to a non-existent person named “Kitty.” She confided in this persona about many things, including the difficulties with her mother and sister.
26. Anne’s Sister Wrote a Diary That Was Never Found
Anne Frank’s sister, Margot Frank, also wrote a diary during their period in hiding. Sadly, this diary was never found. A Dutch woman, Miep Gies, preserved Anne’s diary and gave it to Otto Frank after the war, but no one ever turned over Margot’s diary. Margot was transported to both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen alongside Anne. She died, presumably of starvation or Typhus, only weeks before her younger sister.
25. Hezbollah Attempted to Ban The Diary of Anne Frank For Portraying Jews Positively
Lebanese militant Shi’a political party Hezbollah attempted to ban The Diary of Anne Frank in their original manifesto. They tried to argue that the diary portrayed Judaism, Jews, Israel and Zionism in a positive light, all of which are antithetical to Hezbollah’s political ideology. Since its inception, Hezbollah has argued for the elimination of the state of Israel and dedicated itself to fighting the “Zionist occupation” of Israel.
24. Anne Frank’s Father Served Germany in World War I
Otto Frank was conscripted into German military service for World War I in 1915. He served in an artillery unit on the western front of the conflict. He also served in the incredibly brutal and bloody Battle of the Somme in 1916, in which over one million soldiers perished. In 1917 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Despite this honorable service, the Nazi-led German government ultimately killed his entire family. Only Otto was “spared” the full brunt of the Holocaust.
23. Anne Frank’s Father Survived Auschwitz Only to Lose His Wife and Children
As was the typical procedure throughout the Holocaust, Otto Frank was separated from the female members of his family for separate transport to concentration camps. After his camp was liberated by the British, he received word of his wife’s death by starvation while en route to check on his daughters. He arrived at Bergen-Belsen only to learn that both of his daughters had died weeks before the British liberated the camp.
22. Miep Gies, One of the Dutch Citizens Who Hid the Franks Gave Anne’s Father Her Diary
Hermine “Miep” Gies was a Dutch woman who helped shelter the Frank family along with other Jews from her neighborhood, including her dentist. Gies had worked for Otto Frank for years and was extremely concerned when she saw Jews being rounded up and loaded onto trucks in Amsterdam. She and the other employees of her father’s business helped hide the Franks. She would shop for food at numerous different suppliers each day to not let on that they were feeding extra people.
21. Mormons Have “Proxy Baptized” Anne Frank At Least 9 Times
Let there be no mistake: Anne Frank was murdered due to her Jewish faith and ethnicity. Despite this fact, Mormons have attempted to “save” Anne Frank by baptizing her by proxy no fewer than nine times. Needless to say, this is deeply offensive to Jewish people, so many of whom were persecuted due to their faith. The church officially released a statement that the baptisms were done “in error” and in violation of a 1955 agreement regarding baptisms of Holocaust victims.
20. Anne Received Her Famous Diary For Her 13th Birthday
Anne Frank recorded her diary in a leather-bound autograph book that she saw in a shop window in Amsterdam. Her father remembered her commenting on the pretty book and purchased it for her 13th birthday in 1942. Not long after, in August 1942, the family was forced into hiding when their older daughter, Margot, received a call-up to a “labor camp,” meaning a concentration camp. The birthday gift ultimately ended up recording her plight and sharing it with generations.
Sent together to Auschwitz, Edith, Margot and Anne Frank were given extremely meager rations alongside the other prisoners. While Anne was outgoing and charming enough to gather extra rations for her family occasionally, Edith often refused to eat to make sure her daughters had enough food. When Margot and Anne were sent on to Bergen-Belsen, Edith was already weak from hunger and was left at Auschwitz. She died from starvation not long after her daughters transferred.
18. The SS Officer Who Captured the Franks Bought Anne’s Diary to See If It Mentioned Him
SS Officer Karl Josef Silberbauer is the man who found and arrested the Frank family, after acting on a called-in police tip regarding hidden Jews. He was finally exposed as a former SS agent in 1963, and made the chilling comments, “I bought the little book last week to see if I am in it. But I am not.” Upon being told by a reporter that he “could have been the first to read it,” Silberbauer chuckled and said, “Maybe I should have picked it up off the floor.”
17. Anne Wished to Be a Writer and Write Something Grand
Some of Anne’s diary entries discuss her desire to grow up to be a journalist and a writer. She spoke of wondering if she’d ever write something really grand. Showing true journalistic aptitude, she revised her diary after hearing a BBC broadcast that asked Europeans to write down accounts to create records of Nazi atrocities. It is deeply tragic that she achieved her goal, but at a genuinely unthinkable cost.
16. The Person Who Alerted Secret Police About the Franks Has Never Been Identified
It is known that a report was filed by a Dutch citizen claiming that Jews were being hidden in the Franks’ apartment building. However, the SS officer who arrested the Frank family never was told the name, only his commanding officer knew the identity. He never revealed it. There has been a great deal of speculation, but the most common suspect is Willem van Maaren, an Opekt employee who was not in on the secret of protecting the Jews and often asked about suspicious things he saw.
15. She Re-Wrote Her Diary in 1944 To Better Preserve Accounts of Nazi Activity
On March 28, 1944, Radio Oranje, which was the voice of the Dutch government in exile, broadcast a plea from the Dutch minister of education asking Dutch citizens to document their experiences under the Nazi occupation. He wanted to collect eyewitness accounts after the war ended. Upon hearing this, Anne immediately began revising her diary with an eye towards journalism and creating a historical record.
14. The Franks Knew the Allies Landed in Normandy and Hoped For Liberation
Miep Gies and other Opekt employees keeping the Franks hidden often brought them pieces of news and information when they brought food and other necessary items to the Annex. Thus, the Franks had heard of the Allied landing at Normandy, France in 1944. Anne even wrote hopefully of the event in her diary, hoping that liberation and freedom had come for her family at last. Tragically, they were arrested only two months later.
13. The Date and Cause of Anne’s Death Wasn’t Recorded
In 1945, a horrifying Typhus epidemic hit the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The highly crowded conditions combined with the malnutrition and overall poor health of the prisoners proved a powder keg was just waiting for an infectious match. On a good day, “only” 300 prisoners died a day from the highly contagious disease. Margot reportedly died first after suffering from a high fever. Anne died within a week or two of her older sister, also allegedly from a high temperature.
12. Anne’s Father Was the Only Person from the Annex to Survive the Holocaust
Alongside the Frank family in the Annex was the van Pels family: Hermann and Auguste and their son Peter, as well as Miep Gies’ dentist, Fritz Pfeffer. Of the eight people who sheltered in the Annex for two years, Otto is the sole survivor. Edith died of starvation, while his two daughters died at Bergen-Belsen, presumably of Typhus. Fritz Pfeffer was reunited with Otto Frank at Auschwitz but died soon after of an intestinal infection. Hermann van Pels was sent to a gas chamber, while his wife and son died of illness.
11. Four More Jews Joined the Franks After a Week In Hiding
Many Jews were hidden throughout the Netherlands as part of the Dutch resistance. Miep Gies, fearing for the safety of her Jewish friends and neighbors, hid her dentist, Fritz Pfeffer in the Annex along with the Franks. An entire family, the van Pels, consisting of husband and wife Hermann and Augustine and their son, Peter, also joined the Franks. It is estimated that about two-thirds of the Jews hidden by the resistance movement survived the war.
10. Anne Had a Difficult Relationship With Her Mother
Anne was a moody child and needed a great deal of her emotional support. Her father was more willing to provide this than her mother, which led Anne to resent her mother. In early pages of her diary, she wrote unkindly of her mother and even used the word “hate” towards her. Later entries, as she matured, criticized these early posts and chastised her younger self for being unkind. It appears she grew closer to her mother as she got older.
9. The Franks Were Deported On the Last Transport From Westerbork to Auschwitz
Being caught in late 1945, the Nazi forces were beginning to tire and face the real threat of defeat by Allied forces. The admittance to camps was slowing down, and some camps were even being evacuated with forced death marches. The Franks were transported out of transit camp Westerbork on the last trip to Auschwitz, one of the deadliest concentration camps of the Holocaust. Anne and Margot, as well as Peter van Pels, died only weeks before British forces liberated their camps.
8. Anne Was Forced to Haul Rocks and Dig Sod At Auschwitz
Many prisoners in concentration camps were forced to do pointless hard labor, including hauling rocks and digging up and replacing rolls of sod. Anne, a small girl of only 15, was forced to engage in both. The hard labor, combined with inadequate nutrition, significantly impaired the prisoners and led to many deaths through starvation and disease. Doubtlessly the grueling work weakened Anne and her sister and made them more susceptible to the 1945 Typhus epidemic.
7. Anne Was Briefly Reunited With Friends After Transfer to the Bergen-Belsen Camp
In small mercy, Anne was able to see some of her friends before her untimely death. She was reunited with several Jewish schoolmates in the Bergen-Belsen camp. It is these friends who remembered and later remarked upon the time and manner of her death. Janny Brandes-Brilleslijper, a Dutch survivor, was one of the last people to see Anne alive. Janny and her sister both survived the Holocaust.
6. The Frank Sisters Were Buried In An Unknown Mass Grave
As was extremely common at the time, Anne and her sister were both buried in an unmarked mass grave. Eastern Europe is covered in such mass graves that were dug to accommodate the millions killed in the concentration camps. Given the extremely high death rate of the 1945 Typhus epidemic, there were likely hastily dug mass graves near the camp. However, the exact location of their mass grave has never been determined.
5. Only 5,000 of the 107,000 Jews Deported From The Netherlands Survived
While about two-thirds of the Jews hidden by the Dutch resistance survived the war, a horrifying 3% of those apprehended by the Nazis survived. Between starvation, disease, and the gas chambers, a hauntingly small number survived until Allied liberation of the concentration camps. Poland faced a similar fate, with over 90% of the Jews apprehended by the Nazis ultimately dying. The only real chance at survival was being hidden or smuggled out of Europe by underground networks.
4. Holocaust Deniers Continue to Target The Diary of Anne Frank With Questions of Authenticity
Rabidly anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers continue to target Anne Frank and her diary in their effort to disprove history. The Ku Klux Klan has notably marched and protested against her diary. They claim it is a fabrication meant to garner sympathy rather than a historical record of a murdered child. As part of their dedication to anti-Semitism, many fascist, neo-Nazi and white pride groups continue to deny the Holocaust.
3. The Frank Family Was Unable to Obtain a US Visa Due to Strict Immigration Policy
While the treatment never compared to the despicable internment of Japanese-Americans, German-Americans were also mistrusted and believed to be spies possibly. German immigration was drastically reduced during WWII due to the fear that immigrants with families back in Germany could be blackmailed into spying for the Nazis. The consulates in the Netherlands also stopped operating after the Nazi invasion of the country, making the process even harder.
Unsurprisingly, the diary of a teenage girl included some rather private thoughts. She wrote extensively about her own body and romantic feelings towards others. Otto Frank was, understandably, reluctant to share these elements of his dead daughter’s feelings with the world at large. These passages have ultimately been added back into the definitive edition, which led to challenges by American schools due to distaste over sexual material.
1. Her Concentration Camp Was Liberated Only Weeks After Her Death
The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was located in what is now Saxony in Northern Germany. On April 15th, 1945, British forces liberated the camp. They found 60,000 prisoners inside, many of who were extremely malnourished and ill. They found an additional 13,000 unburied corpses which likely included the bodies of Anne and Margot, who died only weeks before the British arrived. The horrors found by the British led to the name “Belsen” being a symbol of German atrocities.
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