On June 12, 1929, Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany. One of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, she was only 15 years old when she died in a German concentration camp. While hiding from the Nazis for two years, she wrote daily entries in a journal that was posthumously published as “The Diary of Anne Frank.” The literary masterpiece continues to raise widespread awareness about the horrors of the Holocaust. By the end of World War II, the Nazis murdered 10 million people, including six million Jews. Frank remains a lasting symbol of the indefatigability of the human spirit. To date, her diary has been translated into 70 languages with over 30 million copies sold.
Otto and Edith Frank lived with their two daughters, Margot and Anne, in Frankfurt, Germany until 1933. When the anti-Jewish National Socialist Party led by Adolf Hitler came to power, the Franks, along with 300,000 other Jewish refugees, moved to the Netherlands. Then, in 1940, the Nazis invaded and occupied the Netherlands. The Jewish inhabitants were segregated and persecuted. Frank’s father frantically tried to arrange for the family to emigrate to the United States. They were tragically denied entry.
On Frank’s 13th birthday in 1942, her parents gave her a blank autograph book bound with a red-and-white checkered cloth. Frank decided she’d make it her diary and began writing in it immediately. On July 6, the Franks were forced to flee their home and hide from the Nazis in the annex of Otto’s office building. His employees became their only contact with the outside world for two years.
Frank lived in close quarters with her family, as well as the van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer, a family friend. She wrote in her journal every day. She described the tense dynamics between the multiple people in the cramped quarters. As she matured, she began to explore ideas about human nature as well as her belief in God. She also wrote about her desire to become a published writer and journalist. Her last entry was August 1, 1944.
On the morning of August 4, the Germans discovered their hiding place. The group was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. In October 1944, Frank and her sister were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. They were forced to leave behind their mother, who later died of starvation in Auschwitz. Frank and her sister died from typhus in early 1945. On April 15, 1945, British soldiers liberated the camp.
Frank’s father, the only member of the immediate family to survive, returned to Amsterdam in search of his wife and two daughters. In July 1945, one of Otto’s former employees gave him Frank’s diary. Aware that his late daughter wished to become an author, he was determined to share her voice with the world. The book, called “Het Achterhuis (The Annex),” was first published in the Netherlands in 1947. The American edition, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” was published in 1952. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote the introduction to the first edition, describing Frank’s writing as “one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read.” If she would have survived, Anne Frank would have turned 89 years old today.