The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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From the Anne Frank Web site:

[Archival note: the URL below is no longer valid. knm 98/09/21]

Introduction Page

We beleive that this site will be more worth while
to you if you have already read "Anne Frank:
the diary of a young girl".  We strongly 
recommend that you read the above book if
you have not done so.

Introduction to the life of Anne Frank
Annelies Marie Frank was born in Germany on June 12, 1929.
Her family consisted of her parents, Otto and Edith Frank,
and her older sister Margot.  

Before Anne was born, her parents lived in Frankfurt,
Germany. They were married in 1925 and in the next year,
their first daughter Margot was born.  In 1929, the time
that Anne was born, the Great Depression spreaded
throughout the United States and Europe.  One out of
every four persons in Frankfurt was unemployed(Brown 8).
These hard times made it easier for the Nazi party and
Adolf Hitler to gain more support.  Hitler blamed the 
Jewish people for most of German's problems(Kniesmeyer 22).

By 1933, the Nazi party had almost complete power in 
Germany(Brown 9).  The Nazis began to burn books that
went against their ideas and built concetration camps
for those people who opposed them.  These camps were
first used as prisons, but later on they would become
camps for mass murder and torture.  

The Jewish people were the most targeted group by
the Nazis.  By April 11, 1933, the Jewish people could
no longer hold any government jobs and they were
forced to sell their businesses to non-Jews. Jewish
teachers, lawyers and businessmen were fired from
their jobs(Kniesmeyer 22).  In 1935, the Jewish people
no longer had any political rights.  By 1938, Jews were
banned from German schools and universities.  

From November 9 to 11, Jewish-owned shops were ransacked
and burned. A total of 200 synagogues and 5,000 stores
were destroyed(Brown 16).  This event was known as the
Crystal Night.  The next day, about 30,000 Jewish men
and boys were forced to goto concentration camps.

Due to the increasing antisemitism and persecution
of the Jewish people, in 1933, Otto Frank decided to
move his family out of Germany and into Amsterdam,
Netherlands.  The Netherlands were a fairly safe place
for the Jewish people until May 10, 1940, when Germany
invaded the Netherlands.  After the Germans toke
control of the Netherlands, the Jewish people there
were subjected to the same type of antisemitism and
persecution as they were in Germany.  For example, on
February 22, 1941, about 400 Jewish men and boys were
grabbed off the streets and from houses.  They were
beaten and taken away(Kniesmeyer 32).

Admist these tense and tragic times, on June 12, 1942,
Anne received a red-checkered from her dad as a
birthday gift.  In this diary, in which Anne called
"Kitty", she wrote her thoughts and daily events as
truthfully as she could.  As she wrote in her diary, 
  "I want to write, but more than that, I want to
   bring out all kinds of things that lie buried
   deep in my heart." (Diary, 20 June, 1942)

Anne lived somewhat of a normal childhood in Amerstand.  
She had several good girl friends, especially Lies Goosens 
and Jopie de Waal.  As Gene Brown, author of "Anne Frank, 
Child of the Holocaust" describes:
   "By the time she was in grade school, Anne
    had many friends.  Anne and her friends like
    to play pingpong and a game similar to    
    hopscotch.  They also did handstands on the
    wall in a nearby playground.  Anne was a
    bit clumsy, though, and sometimes fell over.
    No matter what Anne and her friends played,
    they usually went out for ice cream after
    the game." (Brown 13)

As conditions got worse for the Jewish people
in the Netherlands, Otto Frank began to
prepare a place for his family to go into hiding. 
He contacted some people from his work,
mainly Miep Gies, Mr. Kraler, Mr. Koophuis
and Elli Vossen which helped setup the "Secret Annex".  

On July 5, 1942, Anne's sister Margot received a
call to report to a "labor camp".  Not much
people knew what these camps were really
like, but rumor was going around that they
were killing thousands of Jews in these
camps.  This prompted the Frank family
to go into the "Secret Annex" the next day.
As noted in Anne's diary, the van Daans
and Mr. Albert Dussel joined them later on.

The events that occurred in the Annex 
are better explained in Anne's diary. 

On August 4, 1944, the Dutch Nazi police invaded
the Annex.  The police were informed by an
anonymous person about Jews hiding in
the back of the building.  Nobody still knows
who that anonymous person was.  The policemen
searched the hideout for valuables.  While
in their search, the policemen dumped out the
contents of Anne's dad's suitcase, which contained 
her diary and works, because they needed something
to hold the valuables they were taking. Fortunately,
they mistakenly left Anne's diary behind.  Later on,
Miep and Elli went back and collected Anne's
diary for safe keeping.  They did not, however, read
Anne's diary until after the war.  Had they done
so, they might have destroyed it, for safety
reasons, since it contained some detailed
information about how they and other people have
helped in hiding the Frank family.

The Franks, van Daans and Mr. Dussel were then sent
on a train to esterbork in Holland.  After a few
months there, they were herded into freight cars
like cattle.  There were about 75 people to a car
with only one small window for fresh air.  The
"train" was headed towards Auschwitz, a death
concentration camp in Poland.  This "train" was the
last to be scheduled to leave to Auschwitz.
Mr. Kroophius and Mr. Kraler were sent to a
labor camp.

After being stuck in the freight cars for four days
without food or water, they arrived at Auschwitz.
 "The woman prisoners were told they would have to 
  march for an hour to the special women's camp
  called Birkenau.  Small children and those who
  were too old or ill to walk were told to get
  on buses.  Those who got on were taken directly
  to the gas chambers and immediately killed.  
  The others were put in barracks, where they were
  given barely enough food to keep them alive and
  hardly enough clothing to keep them warm in the
  cold Polish winter."(brown 52) 

Anne, Margot and Mrs. Frank were sent to the
Birkenau camp, block 29, while Otto Frank, Mr. Dussel,
Mr. van Daan and Peter were sent to the Barracks. 
Mrs. Van Daan died in Bergun-Belsem camp.

In October of 1944, Anne and Margot were sent to 
Bergen-Belsen camp, leaving behind their mother
who died from hardship and exhaustion on January 
6, 1945. The living conditions in Bergen-Belsen
were worse and food was scarce.  There was a great
amount of disease spreading.  At this camp, Anne
saw one of her best friends Lies Goosens.  

Margot and Anne both fell ill and got sick with
typhus.  In late Febuary or early March of 1945,
Margot passed away.  While  unconscious, she fell
off her bed and was dead when her friends tried
to help her up.  "Anne, who was always sick at
the time, was not informed of her sister's death;
but after a few days she sensed it, and soon
afterward she died, peacefully, feeling that
nothing bad was happening to her."(Schnabel 185)
Anne died a few weeks before the War ended and
before the Bergen-Belsen camp liberated.

Of the eight people from the Secret Annex,
only Otto Frank survived.  Peter was taken
away from Auschwitz in late January of 1945 and
died in Mauthausen.  Mr. Dussel died in the 
Neuengamme concentration camp.  Otto Frank
saw Mr. van Daan march to the gas chambers
in Auschwitz.  Mrs. van Daan died in 
Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Mrs.
Frank died in Auschwitz.  Anne and Margot
both died in Bergen-Belsen camp in 1945.  

After the war, Otto Frank returned back
to Amerstand in hopes with meeting his family.
After finding out that his wife had died, he
waited and searched for news of his two children.
Six weeks later, he met someone who told him that
his children had both perished. It was then that
Miep had handed Mr. Frank Anne's diary.

  "It took Otto Frank many weeks to finish
   reading the diary, so moved was he by what
   his dead child had written.  He copied the
   manuscript for his mother, who had emigrated
   and was living in Switzerland with relatives.
   He left out some passages which he felt to be
   too intimate or which might hurt other 
   people's feelings.  The idea of publishing 
   the diary did not enter his mind, but he 
   wanted to show it to a few close friends.
   He gave one typed copy to a friend, who 
   lent it to Jan Romein, a professor of 
   modern history.  Much to Otto Frank's
   surprise the professor devoted an article
   to it in the Dutch newspaper, Het Parool. 
   His friends now urged Otto Frank to have
   Anne's diary published as she herself 
   had wished; in on passage she had written:
     I want to publish a book entitled 
     The Annex after the war . . . my diary
     can serve this purpose."(Jong 19)

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