Today is the birthday of Anne Frank (books by this author) (born in Frankfurt, Germany, 1929), who died at the age of 14 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany during the Holocaust. Frank, her family, and four other people hid for two years in an attic space above Frank’s father’s business warehouse. The space was called “The Secret Annex,” and they survived through the help of Otto Frank’s employees, who brought them food, newspapers, and sundries. The space was small and cramped, and the eight people had to follow strict routines about when to use the bathroom, when to go to bed, and even when they could talk, for fear of rousing the suspicion of the workers in the warehouse. The Secret Annex was entered through a revolving bookcase. We would probably not know of Anne Frank’s life, or certain details of what life was like for Jews during the Holocaust, if Anne had not left behind a little red and white checkered diary that she called “Kitty.”
In it, she recorded details of her life before confinement: school, crushes, fights with sister Margot, but also the increasing harassment that Jews faced after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of the Reich. Jews could no longer ride public transportation. Jewish schoolchildren were forced to sit apart from non-Jewish children in classrooms. Anne Frank wrote, “My happy-go-lucky, carefree school days are over.”
Anne’s father, Otto Frank, had devised a plan of escape, but before it could take place, Anne’s sister, Margot, along with thousands of other Jews in Amsterdam, was called to a labor camp in Germany. If she didn’t register and report, the entire family would be arrested. The Frank family packed suitcases and walked to The Secret Annex in the rain. They wore as many clothes as possible. They would spend 761 days in hiding before they were discovered and sent to the concentration camps. Otto Frank was the only survivor. No one knows who betrayed the Franks, but Otto’s helper, Miep Gies, found the diary in The Secret Annex and gave it to Otto Frank. It became a worldwide sensation when it was published in 1947 as Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl.
Anne Frank would be 88 years old if she had lived. In her diary, she wrote: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
And she wrote, “Those who have courage and faith shall never perish in misery.”