Frank, Anne (1929–1945)

views updated May 23 2018

Frank, Anne (1929–1945)

Dutch girl, one of the millions of Jews killed by the Germans, who became a symbol of brutalized innocence through the power of her diary. Born Anneliese Marie Frank on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany; died of typhus in the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in March 1945; daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Hollander; sister of Margot Betti Frank.

"The diary of Anne Frank has taken on a kind of mystical quality…," wrote Anna Quindlen in 1993. "I read the dairy first when I was twelve, reread it just last week.… Its power is so enormous that, looking at the pictures of the actual diary, with its plaid cover and impotent little lock, a shiver took hold of me as though the thing was a relic, as indeed it is."

Anneliese Marie Frank was born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main. Long before others were prepared to act, Otto and Edith Frank were leery of the growing anti-Semitism in Germany. In 1933, they moved from Frankfurt to Amsterdam, Holland, in the Netherlands, where their daughters—four-year-old Anne and six-year-old Margot Frank —could lead a normal existence. There, Anne would attend the Sixth Public Montessori School (now named the Anne Frank School) for six years.

Otto Frank managed Opekta, the Dutch division of a company that produced pectin for the preparation of jam. As the firm grew, it moved to a building facing the Prinsengracht, one of the many canals that wind through old Amsterdam. Prinsengracht 263 was a five-story, narrow, red-brick building which, shoulder to shoulder, shared the street with other small factories or businesses. Among his employees were two woman: Miep Gies and a young typist, Bep Voskuijl.

On Friday, May 10, 1940, the Germans invaded the Netherlands. Two days later, Queen Wilhelmina and her family fled to England, and the nation's surrender came within a week. Holland was now a part of the Third Reich, commanded by Arthur Seyss-Inquart. At first, the Germans tried to woo the Dutch with their civility, but the theaters showed only German movies, the radio played only German music, and the newspapers contained only German news. At Otto Frank's factory, life went on as usual. Each day, the bells from the church down the block rang out on the quarter hour while seagulls bobbed on the canal. But Hollanders made a mental list of all their Dutch acquaintances: those with Nazi sympathies, known as NSBers, would prove to be dangerous.

The changes in Amsterdam were gradual. In August 1940, Dutch Jews were told to register. That September, Jews in the Civil Service—teachers, professors, mail deliverers—lost their jobs. The Old Jewish Quarter was sealed off. Opekta was ordered to register as a business having one or more Jewish partners. When 400 Jews were trucked off in a punitive move and met with accidental death, the Dutch called a general strike of docks, transportation, and industry for February 25, 1941; it lasted for three days. There were brutal reprisals from the Nazis.

Jews were now forbidden accommodation in hotels and restaurants, and could no longer attend movies, frequent public parks, or ride streetcars. Jews could shop only between the hours of three and five and only in Jewish stores. Jews had to turn in their radios. With their assets frozen, Jews could no longer use their bank deposits or valuables. Yanked out of public and private schools, Jewish children were told to attend all Jewish schools with all Jewish teachers. Thus, in September 1941, Anne and Margot Frank were transferred to the Jewish Lyceum (secondary school). Anne's schoolfriend Jacqueline van Maarsen confided: "I don't dare do anything anymore, 'cause I'm afraid it's not allowed." Then came the yellow star; it was now a crime for a Christian to mix with a Jew. The Germans had successfully separated the Dutch Jews from their neighbors.

Frank, Margot (1926–1945)

Sister of Anne Frank. Born Margot Betti Frank in February 1926 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany; died of typhus in the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in March 1945; daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Hollander; sister of Anne Frank.

An excellent student and unfailingly polite, Margot Frank was pretty, bookish, and much more introspective than her sociable younger sister Anne.

Voskuijl, Bep (d. 1983)

Young typist who helped the Franks. Name variations: Elli Vossen in the original diary. Born Elisabeth Voskuijl; died in 1983.

Aware that his position as managing director was threatening the company, Otto Frank announced that, though he would run the business as usual, he would legally resign and transfer the corporate papers to a partner. In the meantime, he was secretly filling a hiding place with necessities for living: canned goods, soap, linens, sacks of dried beans, furnishings, and cooking utensils. The ground floor of the Opekta company faced the canal; the first floor contained the offices, a kitchen, and a small storeroom; the second floor was used for warehousing; the third floor was an attic. Toward the back of the second floor, down a small corridor, there was an annex. Containing five small rooms, the annex was a separate section in the rear of the building that butted against the

second and third floor. Though Margot and Anne were unsuspecting, their parents had been preparing for their disappearance into this annex for more than a year.

As the Nazis tightened their grip, Otto called Miep Gies into his office and told her he was taking his family into hiding. Since only a few walls would separate the Frank family from Miep's work station, he wanted to know if she objected. She said she did not. He then asked if she would be willing to assume the responsibility of their care. When she replied that she would, Otto reminded her of the punishment for those who helped Jews, but Gies cut him off. "I said, 'of course.' I meant it." They did not discuss details.

On June 12, 1942, for her 13th birthday, Anne Frank received a diary, a stiff-backed notebook with a red-plaid cover. "I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone," she wrote that first day, "and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support." She longed to be a writer and, despite the fact that no one would be "interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl," she had an even greater need to get things off her chest since "paper has more patience than people." Though Anne hastened to point out that she had many friends, including Hannah Goslar, she would make her diary her one good friend. She would call it Kitty.

Three weeks later, on the first Sunday in July 1942, 16-year-old Margot received a postcard, summoning her to report to a work camp in the East, a euphemism for German forced labor. That night, Miep and her husband Jan made several trips to the Frank house and spirited out goods that they would smuggle into the hiding place at a later date. The following morning, on July 6, thankful for the pouring rain, the family—minus Anne's mourned-for cat Moortje—moved into the "Secret Annex" behind the business. By planting clues, they fostered the rumor that they had escaped to Otto's mother's home in Basel, Switzerland. A week later, the Franks were joined by the van Pelses (known as the van Daans in the diary). The agreeable Hermann van Pels worked with Otto Frank, over-seeing the new spices division; he was accompanied by his wife Auguste van Pels, their son, 16-year-old Peter, and Peter's cat Mouschi. Wrote Anne:

No one would ever suspect there were so many rooms behind that plain gray door. There's just one small step in front of the door, and then you're inside. Straight ahead of you is a steep flight of stairs. To the left is a narrow hallway opening onto a room that serves as the Frank family's living room and bedroom. Next door is a smaller room, the bedroom and study of the two young ladies of the family. To the right of the stairs is a windowless washroom with a sink.… If you go up the stairs and open the door at the top, you're surprised to see such a large, light and spacious room in an old canal-side house like this. It contains a stove … and a sink. This will be the kitchen and bedroom of Mr. and Mrs. van [Pels], as well as the general living room, dining room and study for us all. A tiny side room is to be Peter van [Pel]'s bedroom. Then, just as in the front part of the building, there's an attic and loft.

Eventually, the group added a hinged bookcase in front of the Annex door that would swing out to open, sealing off the rooms and the stairs from view.

From the moment the workers arrived downstairs in the morning to the time they left, there was no noise from the tiny, three-floor Annex: no toilet flushed, no floorboard creaked. Miep would climb the stairs for the day's shopping list, then, using forged ration cards obtained from the underground, return with the groceries in the afternoon and stay for a visit. Once a week, she and Jan Gies would deliver a stack of books from a lending library. Otto Frank's business partners would also visit.

The two families made the Annex as liveable as possible. Anne, who initially shared a tiny first-floor bedroom with Margot, covered the wall with magazine photos: Ray Milland, Greta Garbo , Norma Shearer , Dutch actress Lily Bouwmeester , England's then Princess Elizabeth (II) , and Michelangelo's Pietà. Anne loved movies and was adept at mimicking voices; she also loved being the center of attention and was once dubbed a chatterbox by her teacher. With her deep set, gray-green eyes and keen intelligence, she had been popular at school. "Five admirers on every street corner," she wrote, "twenty or so friends, the favorite of most of my teachers, spoiled rotten by Father and Mother, bags full of candy and a big allowance. What more could anyone ask for?"

Goslar, Hannah (1928—)

Childhood schoolmate of Anne Frank, known as Lies Goosens in the original diary. Name variations: Hannah Pick-Goslar; Hanneli Goslar; Lies Goslar; Lies Goosens in the original diary. Born Hannah Elisabeth Goslar in Berlin, Germany, in 1928; daughter of Hans Goslar (before moving to the Netherlands, was deputy minister for domestic affairs and press secretary of the Prussian Cabinet in Berlin) and Ruth Judith Klee (a teacher); married; children: three, including son Chagi (an officer in the Israeli army).

Born in Berlin in 1928, Hannah Goslar was the daughter of Ruth Klee Goslar , a teacher, and Hans Goslar, who was deputy minister for domestic affairs and press secretary of the Prussian Cabinet in Berlin before moving to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1933. The Goslars lived diagonally across from the Franks, and Anne and Hannah were very close. One day Hannah arrived at the Franks' door to borrow a scale and was told they had moved to Switzerland.

As reported in Anne's diary, in October 1942 Hannah's mother died in childbirth. On November 27, 1943, Anne wrote that she dreamed that Hannah was dead. In reality, Hannah, her sister, and her father were part of a large Nazi roundup on June 20, 1943. On February 15, 1944, they were transported from Westerbork to Bergen-Belsen. A year later, Auguste van Pels fetched Hannah and told her that Anne was in the same camp in a section composed of large tents. The friends met and talked through the barbed wire. Unaware that Otto Frank was still alive, Anne was tearful and told Hannah that her parents were both dead. After the war, with the help of Otto Frank, Hannah Goslar moved to Israel.

Pels, Auguste van (1900–1945)

Known as Petronella van Daan in Anne Frank's diary. Name variations: known as Petronella van Daan in diary. Born on September 9, 1900; died in 1945; married Hermann van Pels; children: Peter.

Known as Petronella van Daan in the original diary, Auguste van Pels was transferred to Bergen-Belsen from Auschwitz, then to Buchenwald, then to Theresienstadt on April 9, 1945. Though it is certain that she died in the camps, the date is not known. Her son Peter was on the forced "death march" from Auschwitz to Mauthausen (Austria) where he died on May 5, 1945, three days before the liberation of the camp.

Between June 12, 1942, and August 1, 1944, Anne was attentive to her diary. The earlier sections list the travails of a budding teenager. Anne was indignant when all occupants of the Annex (especially her mother and Mrs. van Pels) felt obliged to aid in her upbringing, pointing

out her many shortcomings. Though Margot and Anne both had their every mood analyzed, Margot, that "paragon of virtue," got off easier. Then, on November 17, 1942, the debonair dentist Fritz Pfeffer (named Albert Dussel in the diary) joined them in the Annex. Pfeffer brought news of the fate of friends in the outside world that made the Annex inhabitants gloomy for days. Unfortunately for Anne, Pfeffer, who now shared her bedroom (Margot had moved into the room with her parents), turned out to be another disciplinarian, a long-winded one, at that. It was not easy to rebel against two sets of parents and a visiting dentist.

"Everyone thinks I'm showing off when I talk, ridiculous when I'm silent, insolent when I answer, cunning when I have an idea, lazy when I'm tired, selfish when I eat one bite more than I should, stupid, cowardly, calculating, etc., etc.," lamented Anne. "All day long I hear nothing but what an exasperating child I am, and although I laugh it off and pretend not to mind, I do mind."

Their day-to-day routine seldom varied. In the August 4–5, 1943, entries, Anne wrote:

Nine in the evening. Bedtime always begins in the Annex with an enormous hustle and bustle. Chairs are shifted, beds pulled out, blankets unfolded—nothing stays where it is during the daytime. I sleep on a small divan, which is only five feet long, so we have to add a few chairs to make it longer.… Ten o'clock. Time to put up the blackout screen and say good-night. For the next fifteen minutes, at least, the house is filled with the creaking of beds and the sigh of broken springs.… Approximately three o'clock. … Sometimes the guns go off during the night, between one and four. I'm never aware of it before it happens, but all of a sudden I find myself standing beside my bed, out of sheer habit.… Then I grab a pillow and a hand kerchief, throw on my robe and slippers and dash next door to Father.

Each day started at 6:45 with an alarm. All householders prepared for the silent hours when the workers were downstairs. "Margot and mother are nervous," wrote Anne.

"Shh … Father. Be quiet, Otto. Shh! … It's eight-thirty. Come here, you can't run the water anymore. Walk softly!" A sample of what's said to Father in the bathroom. At the stroke of half past eight, he has to be in the living room. No running water, no flushing toilet, no walking around, no noise whatsoever. As long as the office staff hasn't arrived, sounds travel more easily to the warehouse.

At 12:30, when the workers leave for lunch:

The whole gang breathes a sigh of relief.… Upstairs you can hear the thud of the vacuum cleaner on Mrs. van [P].'s beautiful and only rug.

Visitors would sometimes join them from below to listen to the BBC. Over Radio Orange, the underground radio, Queen Wilhelmina broadcast hope from England. "The time will come when we'll be people again and not just Jews!" wrote Anne. "Who has inflicted this on us? Who has set us apart from all the rest?"

In the prolonged existence in close quarters, all of the inmates inevitably got on each other's nerves. "I wonder if everyone who shares a house sooner or later ends up at odds with their fellow residents," wrote Anne. "Or have we just had a stroke of bad luck? At mealtime, when Pfeffer helps himself to a quarter of the half-filled gravy boat and leaves the rest of us to do without, I lose my appetite and feel like jumping to my feet, knocking him off his chair and throwing him out the door."

They lived with terror. Air-raid warning sirens blared outside; planes with bellies filled with bombs droned overhead, anti-aircraft guns boomed, rooms shook under the bombing. Since the Nazis had shipped Dutch food and goods to Germany, rations had dwindled, leaving Netherlanders with a meager monthly allotment. Most of Holland was starving. Crime increased. On two different nights, there were break-ins in the warehouse below; in their helplessness, those in the Annex did not know whether the intruders were burglars or the Gestapo. The nights grew longer.

Anne had two diaries. The first version (version a) was written for herself. But in 1944, she heard Gerrit Bolkestein, the minister of education of the Dutch government in exile, broadcasting from London, exhorting the Dutch to keep accounts of the Nazi occupation, specifically letters and diaries. After the war, he said, a collection would be made. So Anne began to rewrite and edit her diary, adding passages from memory, cutting passages of little interest (version b). In the b version, she also revisited passages as a 15-year-old that she had written as a 13-year-old and commented upon them. She longed to be a journalist:

I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in my life, to become a journalist.… I can't imagine having to live like Mother, Mrs. van [Pels] and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! I don't want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift.

When Anne looked downcast, her mother exhorted her to think of those more miserable, "be grateful you're not in Poland." "This is where Mother and I differ greatly," wrote Anne. "Her advice in the face of melancholy is: 'Think about all the suffering in the world and be thankful you're not part of it.' My advice is: 'Go outside, to the country, enjoy the sun and all nature has to offer.'"

She longed to be outside.

Is it because I haven't been outdoors for so long that I've become smitten with nature? I remember a time when a magnificent blue sky, chirping birds, moonlight and budding blossoms wouldn't have captivated me.… [S]everal months ago, I happened to be upstairs one night when the window was open. I didn't go back down until it had to be closed again. The dark, rainy evening, the wind, the racing clouds, had me spellbound; it was the first time in a year and a half that I'd seen the night face-to-face.… [L]ooking at the sky, the clouds, the moon and the stars really does make me feel calm and hopeful.… Nature makes me feel humble and ready to face every blow with courage!

Anne grew out of her clothes; her eyes weakened. Clearly maturing, she began to see her mother's side of things a little more often, began to be less jealous of Margot's relationship with their father; even her attitude toward the van Pelses began to change. The girl she called "the good Anne" was coming to the fore more often.

"I think spring is inside me," she wrote on Saturday, February 12, 1944. "I feel spring awakening, I feel it in my entire body and soul. I have to force myself to act normally. I'm in a state of utter confusion, don't know what to read, what to write, what to do. I only know that I'm longing for something." Until then, she had longed for a girlfriend, for someone to confide in; now she noticed Peter van Pels. In the beginning, she had found Peter obnoxious, but something was changing. Despite protestations to Kitty of not being in love, Anne began to have something to look forward to: seeing and talking to Peter—every minute of every day, seeing and talking to Peter.

But events drove the group nearer the precipice. On March 1, 1944, there was another break-in downstairs, and Hermann van Pels may have inadvertently been seen by the thief. On March 14, those that supplied Miep with extra food coupons were arrested. Those in the Annex now dined on potatoes and kale. On Sunday, April 9, there was another break-in, and the night watchman alerted the police who searched the house. Anne and others in the Secret Annex had lain frozen through night, sure they had been found out.

They lived for the news of Allied victories: Tunis, Casablanca, Sicily. Mussolini resigned; Italy capitulated. And finally, on June 6, 1944, the invasion they had long been waiting for began. Over the BBC, they heard the words: "This is D-Day." One week later, Anne turned 15 and began to think it possible that she might be returning to school in October.

The world's been turned upside down. The most decent people are being sent to concentration camps, prisons and lonely cells, while the lowest of the low rule.

—Anne Frank

Sometime between 10 and 10:30 in the morning, on August 4, 1944, the Annex was raided by the German SD and Dutch members of the Security Police who had been tipped off by an anonymous caller. All eight in hiding were arrested, as well as two of their Dutch supporters. Four days later, the Franks were transported to Westerbork, a holding camp for the Jews in the north of Holland. On September 3, with the Allies 120 miles away, the Franks were herded onto a transport train for the two-day journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau; it was the last transport from the Netherlands to Auschwitz and contained 1,019 people (127 would survive).

On arrival, 549 were immediately sent to the gas chamber, including all children under 15 years of age. Since Anne had turned 15 that June, she escaped the selection and was sent to Barracks 29 along with her mother Edith and sister Margot. Since the women had been separated from the men, they did not know of Otto's fate. For the next two months, because Anne had scabies, most of their time was spent in what was known as the Krätzeblock (scabies barracks). Probably on October 28, 1944, the sisters were shipped to Bergen-Belsen, but Edith was forced to remain behind. Edith Frank died in Auschwitz of grief, hunger, and exhaustion, it is said, on January 6, 1945.

At this point in the war, living conditions were so terrible at Bergen-Belsen that 10,000 died without the help of gas chambers. It was winter; there was no food; the camp was notoriously overcrowded and disease was rampant. Margot and Anne had their hair chopped off and were put in a section composed of large tents. Shortly after, their tent blew down in a severe storm, and they were moved to an over-crowded barrack. "The Frank girls were so emaciated. They looked terrible," said Rachel van Amerongen-Frankfoorder who was in the camp at the same time. "They had those hollowed-out faces, skin over bone. They were terribly cold. They had the least desirable places in the barrack, below, near the door, which was constantly opened and closed." In early March 1945, Anne and Margot Frank died of typhus within days of each other. Anne "stayed on her feet until Margot died," said Janny Brandes-Brilleslijper , who was also there as a political prisoner, "only then did she give in to her illness." The British liberated the camp a few weeks later.

The day the Franks were abducted, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl found Anne's diary, copy books, and papers strewn about the Secret Annex floor. Fortunately, Gies did not read the diary. If she had, she later claimed, she would have burned it to keep it out of the hands of the Gestapo: the diary contained the names of those who had helped the Franks. Instead, she hid it in her desk drawer throughout the last months of the war. After learning of Anne's death, Gies handed the diary over to Otto Frank who had survived and returned home.

Otto honored his daughter's wish by publishing the diary. Selecting material from both versions (which became version c), he omitted many of Anne's references to her emerging sexuality, her teenage angers, and her rejection of her mother. He also cut negative passages regarding others in the Annex. Published as Het Achterhuis (The Annex) in the Netherlands in 1947, the diary was eventually released in over 50 countries in 55 languages, and the Annex at No. 263 Prinsengracht became a museum.

When Otto Frank died in 1980, he willed Anne Frank's manuscripts to the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation in Amsterdam. Since there were those who denied the authenticity of the diaries, the Institute did a thorough investigation, found the documents to be authentic beyond question, and released them in their entirety, including the Institute's examination of Anne's handwriting and materials concerning the Franks' arrest and deportation. In 1991, the Anne Frank Foundation (Anne Frank-Fonds) in Basel, Switzerland, decided to publish an unexpurgated edition of the diary, containing 30% more of the original. In the new version, the actual names of those in the Annex and those who assisted the Franks are used, while those who wished to remain anonymous are represented by initials.

"The struggle for identity, the fears, the doubts, above all the everydayness in the diary entries," writes Quindlen, "the worries about outgrown shoes, the romantic yearnings, and the ever-present conflicts with Mama and Margot reflect, mirror, and elevate the lives of millions who went about the business of studying, romancing, cooking, sewing, and struggling to live in the world until the Nazis ended their millions of ordinary, individual lives."


"As She Was," in People Weekly. May 13, 1996, p. 73.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. Edited by Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler. NY: Doubleday, 1995.

Gies, Miep, with Alison Leslie Gold. Anne Frank Remembered. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987.

Lindwer, Willy. The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank. NY: Random House, 1991.

van der Rol, Ruud, and Rian Verhoeven for the Anne Frank House. Anne Frank, Beyond the Diary: A Photographic Remembrance. Introduction by Anna Quindlen. NY: Viking, 193.

suggested reading:

Graver, Lawrence. An Obsession with Anne Frank: Meyer Levin and the Diary. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995.

Rittner, Carol, ed. Anne Frank in the World: Essays and Reflections. M.E. Sharpe, 1997.

related media:

The Diary of Anne Frank, dramatization of the diary in two-acts by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Drama Critics Circle Award), directed by Garson Kanin, starring Susan Strasberg and Joseph Schildkraut, opened at the Cort Theater on October 5, 1955.

The Diary of Anne Frank, produced on Broadway at the Music Box Theater, opened on December 4, 1997, starring Natalie Portman , Linda Lavin, and George Hearn, adapted by Wendy Kesselman from the Goodrich-Hackett script, directed by James Lapine.

The Diary of Anne Frank, 20th Century-Fox film, 1959, starring Millie Perkins , Joseph Schildkraut, Shelley Winters (who received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), directed by George Stevens; screenplay by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.

Anne Frank Remembered, written and directed by Jon Blair, distributed by Sony Pictures Classics (winner of an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, 1996).

The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank, documentary by Willy Lindwer, first televised in the Netherlands, May 1988.

Frank, Anne

views updated Jun 08 2018

Anne Frank

BORN: 1929, Frankfurt, Germany

DIED: 1945, Bergen-Belsen, Germany

NATIONALITY: German, Dutch

GENRE: Diary, short stories

Diary of a Young Girl (1947)
The Works of Anne Frank (1959)


Anne Frank is known worldwide for the diary she kept while hidden in German-occupied Amsterdam during World War II. For two years, Frank and her family remained stowed away with four other Jews in a few attic rooms above the office where her father worked. Nazi officers discovered their hiding place on August 4, 1944, captured the eight hidden Jews and sent them to concentration camps. Anne Frank died in March 1945, shortly

before her sixteenth birthday. Her journal, published in 1947 as Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, candidly describes the experiences and emotions of an ordinary adolescent in extraordinary circumstances. Many people have found her life story inspiring and symbolic of the overwhelming tragedy known as the Holocaust.

Works in Biographical and Historical Context

Childhood Amid Persecution and War Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank was born to an upper-class Jewish family in the city of Frankfurt. The early childhood of Frank and her elder sister, Margot, was secure and loving, but the year of Anne's birth also marked the onset of a worldwide economic depression that affected a great number of Europeans. In Germany, economic disaster, combined with the lingering effects of Germany's defeat in World War I, led to the installation of Adolf Hitler as leader of the government in 1933. Hitler's National Socialist (Nazi) party made anti-Semitism official state policy. Following Hitler's decree that Jewish and non-Jewish children could not attend the same schools, the Franks left their homeland and by 1934 were settled in Amsterdam.

Despite the growing threat of war, Frank lived a normal life, much like any Dutch girl, for the next few years. In many respects, Frank remained absorbed in everyday life even after the Germans invaded Holland in 1940 and imposed harsh anti-Jewish measures. Frank was forced to leave her Montessori school and attend the Jewish Lyceum. As Nazi horrors increased, including the roundup of Amsterdam's Jews in 1941 for incarceration in concentration camps, Otto Frank and his business partners secretly prepared a hiding place in the top, back portion of their company's combined warehouse and office building on Prinsengracht Canal.

In June 1942, Anne celebrated her thirteenth birthday, receiving among her presents a small cloth-bound diary. Several weeks later, Margot Frank was notified to report to the reception center at the Westerbork concentration camp, and the family fled into the secret annex. They were joined by a Mr. and Mrs. Van Pelz (rendered as “Van Daan” in Anne's diary) and their fifteen-year-old son Peter, and several months later by Albert Dussel, a middle-aged dentist. Together they remained virtually imprisoned for over two years.

“Life in the Secret Annex” Anne wrote in the diary until the discovery of the hiding place in August 1944. The diary meant a great deal to her; she viewed it as a personal friend and confidant. In the diary Anne relates the aggravations of life in hiding as well as the experiences of adolescence that are recognized by people everywhere. Lively and vivacious, she was chastised at school for chattering, but in the annex she was forced to whisper throughout the day. It was a great trial for her. After a year of this silence, combined with her confinement, she expressed feelings of depression, writing on October 29, 1943, “The atmosphere is so oppressive and sleepy and as heavy as lead…. I wander from one room to another, downstairs and up again, feeling like a songbird whose wings have been clipped and who is hurling himself in utter darkness against the bars of his cage.”

Anne could be headstrong, opinionated, and critical, especially of her mother. Generally cheerful and optimistic, she adored her father and attempted to get along with the others, but she was sensitive to criticism, explaining in her diary that no one criticized her more than she herself. Her special attention was given to a budding puppy love with Peter van Daan. The relationship ended soon because it was difficult to maintain in the confined space of the hiding place and because she had a talk with her father who suggested ending it.

The diary traces her development from an outgoing, popular child to an introspective, idealistic young woman. Frank questioned her own idealism in an often-quoted passage written July 15, 1944: “It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”


Frank's famous contemporaries include:

Norman Mailer (1923–2007): American writer whose first novel, The Naked and the Dead, concerns his army service during World War II.

Günter Grass (1927–): German novelist who explored the phenomenon of Nazism.

Adolf Hitler (1889–1945): German chancellor and ruler of Nazi Germany from 1933–1945.

Winston Churchill (1874–1965): British prime minister during World War II.

Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007): American satirical novelist imprisoned in Germany during World War II.

Discovery by the Nazis and Death The diary ends on August 1, 1944, three days before the group was arrested and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, Poland. Margot and Anne were later transferred to Bergen-Belsen. According to a survivor who knew her at the concentration camp, Anne never lost her courage and deep sensitivity. Both Anne and Margot died of typhoid fever at Bergen-Belsen in March 1945. Their mother had died earlier at Auschwitz. Otto Frank, liberated from

Auschwitz by Russian troops in 1945, returned to Amsterdam and soon received a letter informing him of his daughters' deaths. Miep Gies, who had helped hide the family, gave Anne's writings to him. Urged by friends, Otto Frank published an edited version of the diary, deleting some passages he thought too personal. After Otto Frank passed away in 1980, more of the Anne Frank archive was opened, and in 1989 The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition brought readers the diary without her father's cuts.

Works in Literary Context

Initially, Frank considered her diary a private work. Conceiving of the diary as a friend, she named it “Kitty,” after a character in a popular series of children's books by the Dutch author Cissy van Marxveldt. She wrote her entries in the form of letters to Kitty. The vivid, poignant entries range in tone from humorous to serious, casual to intense, and reveal Frank's ability to write narrative and descriptive accounts as well as to write about abstract ideas. The diary, often commended for its engaging style, is full of vitality. Meyer Levin has praised the work for sustaining “the tension of a well-constructed novel.”

Personal Narratives Frank's attitude toward her diary changed in the spring of 1944, when she heard the voice of a minister from the exiled Dutch government on the radio. He was proposing that letters and diaries written during the German occupation be collected, to help future generations understand what the Dutch people had endured. Frank began to copy her entire diary onto loose-leaf paper, editing and revising along the way, with awareness that it could one day be published.

Anne Frank's diary occupies a prominent place in the litany of first-person accounts of danger and hardship, including diaries from soldiers and civilians during other wars, slave narratives and captivity narratives. Indeed, for many young readers, her diary has become the defining document of this genre.

Coming of Age The Diary of Anne Frank also belongs squarely in the tradition of coming-of-age literature, fictional or factual. Frank can thus lay claim to literary precursors such as Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. In turn, the earnestness of her self-reflection opened the way for the flourishing of coming-of-age novels in the late twentieth century, represented by authors such as J.D. Salinger for adult readers, and Judy Blume and S.E. Hinton for young readers.

During the course of writing the diary, Anne became certain she wanted to be a writer. She envisioned a novel based on her diary. Additionally she wrote stories, later collected in The Works of Anne Frank and Tales from the House Behind. According to New York Times Book Review critic Frederick Morton, the stories “show that Anne followed instinctively the best of all platitudes: Write whereof you know. Not even her little fairy tales are easy escapes into make-believe, but rather pointed allegories of reality…. … Still none of these… has the power of any single entry in the diary.”

A Lasting Impact Anne Frank's diary proved remarkably popular, selling millions of copies and being translated into many languages. A stage adaptation opened in New York in 1955. Four years later, a major Hollywood motion picture was produced based on the diary. To this day, the diary is routinely assigned to schoolchildren around the world.


The Holocaust is one of the most cataclysmic events of modern times, raising urgent questions about the nature of evil and its lasting effects on everyone it touches. The following works relate to these events:

Night (1958), by Elie Wiesel. An autobiographical account of life in the Nazi death camps.

Survival in Auschwitz (1947), by Primo Levi. The author's first-person account of daily experience in the death camp is told with restraint and dry wit, enabling the reader to grasp the horror of genocide in its full depth.

Sophie's Choice (1979), by William Styron. An American writer makes friends with a Jewish man and his lover, Sophie, who gradually reveals her haunting secret.

Schindler's Ark (1982), by Thomas Keneally. A novel based on the life of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved more than a thousand Jews from the camps; basis for Steven Spielberg's film Schindler's List.

Shoah (1985), a film directed by Claude Lanzmann. This nine-hour documentary film is an oral history of survivors, witnesses, and participants in the everyday activities of the Holocaust.

Works in Critical Context

As a historical document the diary is an indictment of the Nazis' destruction of human life and culture. As Ilya Ehrenburg has stated, “One voice speaks for six million—the voice not of a sage or a poet but of an ordinary little girl.” Critics have argued that while newsreels and books that explicitly portray Nazi atrocities have had a stupefying effect on people, Frank's story acquaints people with everyday recognizable individuals and has thus been phenomenally effective in communicating this enormous tragedy. In postwar Germany, there was an intense interest in Frank among German youth after years of repressive silence regarding Nazi crimes. Anne Birstein and Alfred Kazin have asserted that “the reality of what certain people have had to endure in our time can be

grasped humanly and politically only because of the modulation of a document like The Diary of a Young Girl, which permits us to see certain experiences in a frame, in a thoroughly human setting, so that we can bear them at all.”

Apart from interest in the diary for its historical value, some have admired its accurate, revealing portrait of adolescence. “She described life in the annex, with all its inevitable tensions and quarrels,” wrote L. De Jong in A Tribute to Anne Frank. “But she created first and foremost a wonderfully delicate record of adolescence, sketching with complete honesty a young girl's feelings, her longings and loneliness.” Annie Romein-Vershoor has expressed the view that Frank “possessed the one important characteristic of a great writer: an open mind, untouched by complacency and prejudice.”

Responses to Literature

  1. For what purposes did Anne Frank use her diary? How did the diary's place in her life evolve over time?
  2. After March of 1944, Anne Frank began writing her diary with greater consciousness that it may someday be read. How does this awareness influence her style and the direction her writing takes? Provide several specific examples supporting your main points.
  3. Using your library and the Internet, research the European Jewish reaction to the rising power of Adolf Hitler. How many Jews left their homes to find safety? How many hid, as did Anne Frank and her family? Of those, how many were discovered and sent to their deaths? On the other hand, how many stayed, hoping the situation would not get worse? What do you think your family would have done?
  4. The 1998 documentary film “Paper Clips,” depicts the story of a high school teacher in a small town in Tennessee. She wanted to open the eyes of her students to a world event that most had never heard of, and, in some way, have those students actually touch that event. The students filled a railcar with 11 million paper clips: one paper clip for each person who died. This railcar now stands as a memorial in this Tennessee schoolyard as a lesson the students will not forget. Now, imagine you are the teacher. Can you create a project that will have your students, or even your friends, connect to Anne Frank's teen years? What could make it real to you and how would you transmit that reality to your peers?



Berryman, John. The Freedom of the Poet. New York: Straus, 1976.

Bettelheim, Bruno. Surviving and Other Essays. New York: Knopf, 1979.

Dunaway, Philip, and Melvin Evans, eds. Treasury of the World's Great Diaries. New York: Doubleday, 1957.

Ehrenburg, Ilya. Chekhov, Stendhal, and Other Essays. New York: Knopf, 1963.

Fradin, Dennis B. Remarkable Children: Twenty Who Made History. New York: Little, Brown, 1987.

Giep, Mies, and Alison Leslie Gold. Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Franks. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.

Muller, Melissa. Anne Frank: The Biography. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998.

Schnabel, Ernst. Anne Frank: A Portrait in Courage. New York: Harcourt, 1958.

Steenmeijer, Anna G., ed. in collaboration with Otto Frank and Henri van Praag. A Tribute to Anne Frank. New York: Doubleday, 1970.

Frank, Anne (1929–1945)

views updated May 14 2018

Frank, Anne (19291945)

Anneliese Marie (Anne) Frank was born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She fled from her country of birth to the Netherlands in 1934, following her father, mother, and sister. Their hope to be freed from the German persecution of Jews disappeared when Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940. From then on, anti-Jewish measures isolated the Frank family more and more. Anne was forced to go to a school established for Jewish children, the Joods Lyceum. Finally, in July 1942, the family went into hiding in the achterhuis (annex) of her father's office and warehouse. A month before that, Anne had started writing a diary, which now became an account of two years of living in isolation with the constant fear of discovery and betrayal. The diary also became an analysis of the tensions among eight people living closely together in hiding. Finally it is the personal story of a girl growing up during her thirteenth through fifteenth years.

In March 1944 Anne heard a radio announcement by the Dutch government in exile that after the war diaries would be collected to document the German occupation. From then on she rewrote her diary in a more polished form. This came to an end in August 1944, when Anne and the others were betrayed, arrested, and deported. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen in February or early March 1945. Her father Otto Frank survived. After his return one of the people who had provided food during the family's period of hiding, had saved Anne's diary and gave it back to her father. He made a typescript of the diary, which was published in 1947 under the title Het achterhuis. German, French, and English translations followed. A play based on the diary, written in 1955 by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, became a success on Broadway, and in 1958 was made into a movie by Hollywood director George Stevens. Anne Frank posthumously became famous worldwide. Otto Frank was convinced that his daughter's diary would be a warning against racism for young readers, and to this end he corresponded with readers all over the world. Meanwhile, however, the image of Anne Frank developed from a young victim of the Holocaust into that of some sort of humanist saint. In Amsterdam, the annex became a museum. In 1986 a thorough scholarly edition of the Dutch text was published (followed by an English translation in 1989), in which questions about the authenticity of the diary from neo-Nazis were countered by an extensive technical examination of the manuscript. All three versions of the diary are included in this edition: Anne's first version, her own rewritten version, and the 1947 edition as edited by Otto Frank.

Anne Frank's diary has now been translated into dozens of languages and has sold millions of copies, yet the first biography of the author was published only a few years ago. The diary has traditionally been given to young people to read from a pedagogical motivation; nevertheless, there are several other ways to read the text. Today more attention is given to Anne Frank's Jewish background, which previously was kept in the background, especially in the play and movie. However, it is clear from the diary that for Anne herself her Jewishness was not a very essential part of her identity. Another aspect now more clearly realized is that Anne Frank was only one of many young victims, and the context of the Holocaust therefore now receives more attention. Recently a history of her school, the Joods Lyceum, was published, partly based on interviews with surviving schoolchildren. Anne Frank is now also seriously studied as a woman writer. Writing a diary was in itself an activity typical of girls, and a diary written by another pupil of the Joods Lyceum, Ellen Schwarzschild, was published in 1999. Anne's diary must also be seen in a long tradition of autobiographical writing. During World War II in Holland, as in other periods of crisis, many people started writing diaries, and hundreds have survived, of which several are published. Anne saw her diary, at least the second version, as a literary achievement. The diary itself reveals which novels were an influence on her writing, especially those by the popular Dutch novelist Cissy van Marxveldt. Anne's ability as a writer, her creativity and orginality, are receiving more recognition than before. Finally, having arrived in Holland only in 1934, Anne's mastery of the Dutch language is remarkable. Scholarly research has intensified in recent years, and it has taken different roads, but reading Anne Frank's diary itself is still a starting point.

See also: Autobiographies.


Dacosta, Denise. 1998. Anne Frank and Etty Hillesum: Inscribing Spirituality and Sexuality. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Enzer, Hyman Aaron, and Sandra Solotaroff-Enzer, eds. 2000. Anne Frank: Reflections on Her Life and Legacy. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Frank, Anne. 1989. The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition, ed. David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom. Trans. Arnold J. Pomerans and B. M. Mooyaart. Prepared by the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation. New York: Doubleday.

Graver, Lawrence. 1995. An Obsession with Anne Frank: Meyer Levin and the Diary. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Hondius, Dienke. 2001. Absent. Herinneringen aan het Joods Lyceum Amsterdam 19411943. Amsterdam: Vassallucci.

Lee, Carol Ann. 1999. Roses from the Earth: The Biography of Anne Frank. London: Viking.

Melnick, Ralph. 1997. The Stolen Legacy of Anne Frank: Lillian Hellman and the Staging of the Diary. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Rittner, Carol. 1998. Anne Frank and the World: Essays and Reflections. Armonk, NY: Sharpe.

Schwarzschild, Ellen. 1999. Tagebuch. Niet lesen als 't U belieft. Nicht lesen Bitte. Onuitwisbare herinneringen 19331943. Amstelveen, the Netherlands: privately published.

internet resources

Anne Frank Center USA. Available from <>.

Anne Frank House. Available from <>.

Anne Frank Trust UK. Available from <>.

"One Voice: From the Pen of Anne Frank." Available from <>.

Rudolf M. Dekker

Frank, Anne (1929–1945)

views updated Jun 11 2018

FRANK, ANNE (1929–1945)


German-born diarist, writer, and Holocaust victim.

Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt am Rhein, Germany, on 12 June 1929. Her ancestors had lived in that city for centuries, achieving a modest position of wealth and prestige in the world of commerce and banking. Her father, Otto Frank, belonged to a family of cultivated, liberal, assimilated German Jews. After the Nazis came to power, he arranged for his family to emigrate to Amsterdam, where he had established a Dutch branch of a chemical firm. Anne joined her parents and elder sister, Margot, in March 1934, and both girls soon adapted to life in the Netherlands. The German invasion on 10 May 1940 had few immediate effects, but anti-Semitic measures were gradually introduced and Anne was forced to transfer to a Jewish school in September 1941. When the Nazis began to deport the Jews in July 1942, the Frank family went into hiding almost immediately, using the attic (Achterhuis) above Otto Frank's office at 263 Prinsengracht in the old center of Amsterdam. Anne meticulously recorded in her diary the events of the following two years in this secret annex. She quickly developed her skills as a writer and on 11 May 1944 wrote that she wished to become a journalist and writer. To that end she started to rewrite her original diary.

On 4 August 1944, two months after the Allied landing in Normandy, Otto Frank and his family were arrested, having been betrayed to the Germans. On 8 August they were deported to the Westerbork transit camp in the northeastern part of the Netherlands. On 3 September, as the Allied armies were approaching the Dutch frontier, the Frank family was deported on the very last train to leave Westerbork for Auschwitz. Anne and her sister were transported to Bergen-Belsen at the end of October, leaving their mother, Edith, in Auschwitz, where she died of exhaustion. Like many other inhabitants of the overpopulated Bergen-Belsen camp, the Frank sisters died of typhus before the British Army liberated it on 15 April 1945.

From The Diary of Anne Frank (rev. critical ed., 2003), entry of 3 May 1944, version c, pp. 650–651:

As you can easily imagine we often ask ourselves here despairingly: "What, oh, what is the use of the war? Why can't people live peacefully together? Why all this destruction?"

The question is very understandable, but no one has found a satisfactory answer to it so far. Yes, why do they make still more gigantic planes (in England), still heavier bombs and, at the same time, prefabricated houses for reconstruction? Why should millions be spent daily on the war and yet there's not a penny available for medical services, artists, or for poor people?

Why do some people have to starve, while there are surpluses rotting in other parts of the world? Oh, why are people so crazy?

I don't believe that big men, the politicians and the capitalists alone, are guilty of the war. Oh no, the little man is just as guilty, otherwise the peoples of the world would have risen in revolt long ago! There's in people simply an urge to destroy, an urge to kill, to murder and rage, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated, and grown will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.

I have often been downcast, but never in despair; I regard our hiding as a dangerous adventure, romantic and interesting at the same time. In my diary I treat all the privations as amusing. I have made up my mind now to lead a different life from other girls and, later on, different from ordinary housewives. My start has been so very full of interest, and that is the sole reason why I have to laugh at the humorous side of the most dangerous moments.

I am young and I possess many buried qualities; I am young and strong and am living a great adventure; I am still in the midst of it and can't grumble the whole day long. I have been given a lot, a happy nature, a great deal of cheerfulness and strength. Every day I feel that I am developing inwardly, that the liberation is drawing nearer and how beautiful nature is, how good the people are about me, how interesting this adventure is! Why, then, should I be in despair?

Yours, Anne

After returning from Auschwitz, Otto Frank learned that his family had not survived the camps but that most of Anne's diary had been preserved. In 1947 he decided to publish an abridged version under the title Het Achterhuis (The secret annex). For the sake of propriety, the good name of third parties, and in order to maintain interest, Otto Frank and the Dutch publisher felt they had to omit certain passages. International acclaim followed in the mid-1950s, and reprints, translations, and new editions followed in quick succession. The diary became the most widely read nonfiction book in the world after the Bible. A critical edition of Anne Frank's diary appeared in Dutch in 1986 to rebut neo-Nazi allegations that it was a hoax.

In 1957 the Anne Frank Foundation was created with the aim of propagating the ideals expressed in the diary. The foundation acquired the house on the Prinsengracht and created a museum there in 1960. It became one of Western Europe's most popular shrines. The foundation and its museum addressed many of the broader ideological preoccupations of society until the 1990s, when there was a return to assessing Anne Frank as an individual; several biographies were published and more emphasis was put on the literary qualities of her writings.

For many people, Anne Frank provides a human face to the six million Jews who died, and her diary is of enduring importance in memorializing the victims of the Holocaust. Although she was initially seen as an icon of Dutch innocence and resistance, this view of the population as a whole was later undermined by historians, who demonstrated that the vast majority were indifferent to the fate of their fellow citizens and many were even actively involved in their deportation. More than 102,000 of the Netherlands' 140,000 Jews were murdered, a proportion equaled only in the countries of occupied Eastern Europe. More recently, Anne Frank became a ready-made icon for those who, in the words of Ian Buruma, have turned the Holocaust into a kind of secular religion.

There has also been intense criticism of those who have used her experiences as an emblem of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Because her diary ends at the moment of her deportation, it can give no attention to the suffering of the millions of Jews in the camps and the ghettos of Eastern Europe, as Anne herself recognized in her entry of 13 January 1943. In the age of "identity politics," many were also shocked by the "de-Judaizing" of Anne Frank, for example in the play and film by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett in the 1950s, where Anne expresses her belief in the goodness of men, thus becoming a symbol of innocence and hope, and where her suffering was taken as the symbol of the suffering of all humanity. These changing perspectives go a long way toward illuminating the different phases of contemporary and cultural history since the diary was written. Her writings also show the many faces of Anne Frank herself, as a recalcitrant adolescent, a young girl in love, and, in her letters to her fictitious friend Kitty, a penetrating and witty observer.

See alsoChildhood and Adolescence; Holocaust; Netherlands.


Primary Sources

Frank, Anne . The Diary of a Young Girl. Translated by B. M. Mooyaart-Doubleday. London, 1952.

——. The Diary of Anne Frank. Edited by David Barnouw and Gerrold van der Stroom. Translated by Arnold J. Pomerans, B. M. Mooyaart-Doubleday, and Susan Massotty. Rev. critical ed. New York, 2003.

Secondary Sources

Enzer, Hyman Aaron, and Sandra Solotaroff-Enzer, eds.Anne Frank: Reflections on Her Life and Legacy. Urbana, Ill., 2000.

Galen Last, Dick van, and Rolf Wolfswinkel. Anne Frank and After: Dutch Holocaust Literature in Historical Perspective. Amsterdam, 1996.

Müller, Melissa. Anne Frank: The Biography. Translated by Rita Kimber and Robert Kimber. New York, 1998.

Rittner, Carol, ed. Anne Frank in the World: Essays and Reflections. Armonk, N.Y., 1998.

Dickvan Galen Last

Frank, Anne

views updated May 29 2018


FRANK, ANNE (1929–1945), teenage Holocaust victim who won fame following the posthumous publication of her now famous diary. Through the pages of this book, which she composed during more than two years of hiding from her Nazi persecutors, she has emerged as the preeminent symbol of the innocent but cruelly victimized Jewish child.

Anneliese Marie Frank was born in Frankfurt-am-Main. In the summer of 1933, following Hitler's accession to power, she left her native city with her parents and elder sister, Margot. After a stay of some months in Aachen, they settled in Amsterdam, where her father, Otto, had a business. Her early years in Amsterdam were relatively normal, but after Germany's invasion of the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, and especially after a series of harsh anti-Jewish decrees introduced in the following months, the situation of the Jews in the country worsened considerably. The Frank family sought safety by concealing themselves in several rooms in Otto Frank's office building. With four other Jews, they lived in this "Secret Annex" from July 6, 1942, until August 4, 1944, when they were betrayed and arrested. Sent first to Westerbork, a transit camp in Drente, in the north of Holland, they were deported a few weeks later to Auschwitz, the major Nazi death camp in Poland. After a little less than two months in this camp, Anne and Margot were then sent to Bergen-Belsen, in northern Germany, where, disease-ridden and emaciated, they died sometime in the early spring of 1945. Of the eight Jews in hiding in the "Secret Annex," only Otto Frank survived.

Anne's diary, parts of which were discovered and preserved by loyal co-workers of Otto Frank, was first published in Dutch in 1947. French and German translations appeared in 1950, and an English translation followed in 1952. Since then, the diary has been translated into some 60 languages and circulated in perhaps as many as 25 million copies. A highly popular stage version, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, appeared in 1955, and a much acclaimed film version by famed director George Stevens followed in 1959. In subsequent years, Anne Frank's story has also been the focus of a number of other films and television programs, ballets, operas, other musical productions, paintings, drawings, works of sculpture, scholarly and popular books, postage stamps, commemorative coins, videotapes, cd-roms, and more. In addition to her presence in virtually all of the media of popular culture, Anne Frank's image has been enshrined in Otto Frank's former office building on the Prinsengracht, in central Amsterdam, which for years now has been one of Europe's most frequently visited memory sites, drawing very large crowds annually. As a result, Anne Frank's story has become familiar to millions of people throughout the world, so much so that she may be the best-known child of the 20th century.

On one level, the diary chronicles the trials and adventures, yearnings and frustrations, of its precociously bright and gifted author. Yet, while it has been prized chiefly as the personal confessions of an idealistic teenager doing her best to maintain her spirits and a measure of independence in confined and severely trying circumstances, the diary is also an important historical document. For it presents, often in vivid detail, the daily reflections of a highly intelligent and keenly observant young Jew struggling against the encroaching threats of the Nazi menace. Thus, the book has both universalistic and particularistic elements, and it can be and has been read in various ways.

The Goodrich and Hackett stage version of the diary elevated what Otto Frank himself energetically promoted as his daughter's "universal message" of goodness and hope and subordinated its darker and more specifically Jewish dimensions. Like the Hollywood film that followed it, the play features an Anne Frank who is basically cheerful, high-spirited, and ever optimistic. Its overarching "message" is summed up in words that have been broadly taken to constitute Anne Frank's signature line: "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart."

The writer Meyer *Levin, who wrote an early adaptation of the diary for the theater, strongly objected to this interpretation of Anne Frank's story and fought for years to correct what he saw as an ideological distortion and political manipulation of the diary. He was largely unsuccessful, and his stage version has rarely been performed. More recently, however, the playwright Wendy Kesselman has adapted the Goodrich and Hackett stage play and given greater emphasis to the Jewish features of Anne Frank's story. Her version is in broader circulation today than Levin's ever was, and it may, over time, alter popular perceptions of her heroine's fate. In addition, new biographical, bibliographical, historical, and literary studies of Anne Frank's life and writings have appeared over the past two decades, and these have shown both the diary and its youthful author to be even more complex, interesting, and compelling than was earlier believed. At their best, these works have helped to demythologize the image of Anne Frank and to connect her more closely to the historical contexts in which she lived, wrote, and died. The meanings of Anne Frank's book no doubt will continue to be contested for years to come, including by those on the far-right revisionist fringe who have long denounced it as a "Jewish fabrication" and a "Zionist hoax," but the diary's place in the canon of 20th century literature is by now assured.


D. Barnouw and G. van der Stroom (eds.), The Diary of Anne Frank: The Critical Edition. Prepared by the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation (1989); Anne Frank's Tales from the Secret Annex, tr. R. Manheim and M. Mok (1984); The Diary of Anne Frank, dramatized by F. Goodrich and A. Hackett (1956);. The Diary of Anne Frank, by F. Goodrich and A. Hackett, newly adapted by W. Kesselman (2000); M. Gies, Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family (1987); L. Graver, An Obsession with Anne Frank: Meyer Levin and the Diary (1995); R. Melnick, The Stolen Legacy of Anne Frank: Meyer Levin, Lillian Hellman, and the Staging of the Diary (1997); C.A. Lee, The Hidden Life of Otto Frank (2002); W. Lindwer, The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank, tr. A. Meersschaert (1991); M. Mueller, Anne Frank: The Biography, tr. R. and R. Kimber (1998); A.H. Rosenfeld, "Popularization and Memory: The Case of Anne Frank," in: P. Hayes (ed.), Lessons and Legacies: The Meaning of the Holocaust in a Changing World (1991), 243–78; idem, Anne Frank and the Future of Holocaust Memory. The Tenth Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture, Washington, d.c., The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (2005); H.A. Enzer and S. Solotaroff-Enzer, Anne Frank: Reflections on Her Life and Legacy (2000).

[Alvin H. Rosenfeld (2nd ed.)]

Anne Frank

views updated Jun 27 2018

Anne Frank

Anne Frank (1929-1945) achieved world fame after her death from typhus in March 1945 in the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen through the publication of her diary in which she described the lives of eight Jews in hiding in the city of Amsterdam between June 1942 and August 1944.

Anne Frank was born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany. Her father, Otto, was the son of wealthy parents. He attended the classical gymnasium and served as a lieutenant of the German army in World War I. Following the loss of his parent's fortune during the 1920s' inflation in Germany, he was able to establish himself as a businessman in Frankfurt specializing in banking and in the promotion of name brands. Anne's mother also came from a well-to-do family. Anne had a close and warm relationship with her father and a more distant one with her mother. Anne's sister Margot, a pretty and feminine girl, was born in 1926 and also died in Bergen-Belsen.

Following the Nazi takeover of Germany in January 1933, the Frank's emigrated to Amsterdam, Holland, where Otto Frank became the managing director of a food company with a warehouse and office on the Prinsengracht, one of the city's canal/streets. Anne attended the Montessori school in Amsterdam. When the Nazis occupied Holland in May 1940 they began to institute anti-Jewish regulations which forced Anne to leave her school and to attend a Jewish secondary school. Jews were forced to wear the yellow Jewish star of David, and deportation of Jews from Holland to the Auschwitz extermination camp commenced. Margot received an order to report for deportation in early July 1942. Otto Frank, who had prepared for this eventuality by setting up a hiding place for his family, decided that the time had come. He moved his family into the hidden rear portion of the warehouse where he had prepared two apartments. He was joined there by Mr. van Daan, a co-worker, with his wife and 16-year-old son Peter. Eventually an eighth person joined them, an elderly Jewish dentist named Dussel.

The friends of the hidden Jews who worked in the office of the firm, Mr. Koophuis, Victor Kraler, Miep (de Jong) van Santen, Henk van Santen, and Elli Vossen, supplied them with food, black market ration cards, and other necessities. They were quiet during the day when the normal business of the firm was conducted downstairs. Life for the hidden began in the late day and evening hours.

Following a denunciation, probably by another member of the firm or by a night-time burglar, the police discovered the hidden persons and arrested them and their helpers. The helpers were held by the Gestapo for a period and some were sentenced to forced labor. The Franks, van Daans, and Dussel were transported to the Dutch transit camp Wersterbork and from there to the extermination camp Auschwitz. It was the last major transport of Jews from Holland. When the Russians threatened to conquer the camp, Margot and Anne Frank were sent to Bergen Belsen where they perished. Of the eight Jews who were in hiding, only Otto Frank survived. (He died in 1980.)

Although Anne wrote a few short stories and started on a novel during her period in hiding, her most important literary achievement was a diary of the events taking place in Prinsengracht. When the German police raided the hiding place they scattered the pages of the diary on the floor. They were collected by Elli Vossen and Miep van Santen and handed to Otto Frank upon his return to Amsterdam.

The diary was forcefully written and tells the story of the living together of the eight persons in the Achterhuis, or the hidden back part of the house, in Prinsengracht. This was often done in a humorous way, displaying considerable talent of observation, originality, and description. Anne was well able to convey to the reader the fears about discovery and the hopes about an end to the war. She described the quarrels between the older van Daans and of the van Daans and the dentist, which often ended in the latter's refusal to further communicate with the van Daans for a week.

Anne's diary, originally published as Het Achterhuis, will be valuable to many readers for various reasons. Not the least of these is the story of a young girl growing up under the confining conditions on the Prinsengracht. She described the generation gap between the adults and their silly quarrels and how they tended to combine their forces in castigating her for all sorts of shortcomings. She told about her somewhat distant relationship with her mother and the close one with her father.

Her special attention was given to a budding puppy love with Peter van Daan. The harmless affair ended soon because it was difficult to maintain in the confined space of the hiding place and because she had a talk with her father who suggested ending the affair. But mainly it was because she was intellectually and emotionally the superior of Peter, a nice but rather colorless boy.

A good part of the chronologically-arranged diary entries, all addressed to a Kitty, are concerned with food, its preparation, hygiene, birthday parties and presents, and educating children in such adverse conditions. The cheerfulness of Anne's writing in such dangerous circumstances, as well as her sensitivity and talent to describe difficult circumstances and the tragedy of her short life, made her diary an instant success. The book was translated into over 30 languages, and a pocket book edition in Germany alone sold 900,000 copies, while several million copies of a United States publication of the diary were sold.

Today the house in Prinsengracht is an international youth center known as the Anne Frank House. There are Anne Frank centers devoted to her memory in several places, including Philadelphia and New York City.

Further Reading

Essential reading is the Doubleday edition of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (1967) with its useful "Reader's Supplement." Also important is Ernst Schnabel, Anne Frank (1958), which presents important information relating to the Franks obtained by interviewing the survivors of the tragedy. Of interest also is the Broadway play The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Hollywood made a motion picture of the diary of Anne Frank in 1959 which was adapted for television eight years later. The Dutch War Documentation Institute in Amsterdam published in 1986 a definitive, 714-page volume of the diaries complete with scientific endorsement of their authenticity. □

Frank, Anne (1929–1945)

views updated May 23 2018

Frank, Anne (1929–1945)

Dutch diarist. Born Anneliese Marie Frank on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany; died of typhus in the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in Mar 1945; dau. of Otto Frank (died 1980) and Edith Frank-Hollander (died in Auschwitz on Jan 6, 1945); sister of Margot Betti Frank (died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen in Mar 1945).

Dutch girl, one of the millions of Jews killed by the Germans, who became a symbol of brutalized innocence through the power of her diary; at 4, moved with family from Frankfurt to Amsterdam, Holland, because of the growing anti-Semitism in Germany (1933); attended the Sixth Public Montessori School (now named the Anne Frank School) for 6 years; on 13th birthday (June 12, 1942), received a diary, a stiff-backed notebook with a red-plaid cover that she called Kitty; went into hiding with family (July 6, 1942), moving into the "Secret Annex" behind father's business at Prinsengracht 263; aided by Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, remained in hiding with the van Pels and their son Peter until Aug 4, 1944, until someone tipped off the Germans; 4 days later, was transported to Westerbork; sent on the last transport from the Netherlands to Auschwitz (Sept 3); escaped the selection and was sent to Barracks 29 along with mother Edith and sister Margot; with sister, shipped to Bergen-Belsen (probably Oct 28, 1944); outlived sister by days. Her diary, published as Het Achterhuis (The Annex) in the Netherlands (1947), was eventually released in over 50 countries in 55 languages, and the Annex became a museum.

See also The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition (edited by Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler, Doubleday, 1995); Miep Gies, with Alison Leslie Gold, Anne Frank Remembered (Simon & Schuster, 1987); Willy Lindwer, The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank (Random House, 1991); Ruud van der Rol and Rian Verhoeven for Anne Frank House, Anne Frank, Beyond the Diary: A Photographic Remembrance (Viking, 1993); (play) The Diary of Anne Frank, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (1955) and The Diary of Anne Frank, adapted by Wendy Kesselman from the Goodrich-Hackett script (1997); Anne Frank Remembered (winner of an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, 1996); The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank, documentary by Willy Lindwer (1988); and Women in World History.

Frank, Anne

views updated May 29 2018

Frank, Anne (1929–45) German Jew who became a symbol of suffering under the Nazis. Born in Frankfurt-am-Main, she fled with her family to the Netherlands in 1933. The Franks were living in Amsterdam at the time of the German invasion in 1940, and went into hiding from 1942 until they were betrayed in August 1944. Anne died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The diary she kept during her years in hiding was published in 1947, and attracted worldwide readership.

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Anne Frank

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