Anne led a happy and normal childhood, and on her 13th birthday she received a diary from her parents. It became special to her as years went by. It is through this diary that much about World War II and Anne’s life has been learned.
In 1933, her and her family left Frankfurt, a large Jewish community, and settled in Amsterdam. Her father foresaw that Hitler’s power boded disaster for the Jews. In May 1940, the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands took place, which cast a shadow on Anne’s happy childhood. The situation became worse with the restrictions placed on the Jews. One restriction was that Jewish children were only allowed at Jewish schools. Anne went to the Jewish school called The Jewish Lyceum.
In July 1942, Anne’s family went into hiding in the Prinsengracht building. Anne’s family called it the “Secret Annex”. During these times people they knew like, Miep and Jan Gies and many others, brought the family’s food. You would have to be very brave to take on a job like that because, if you got caught you could be killed.
Life in the Annex was not easy at all. Anne had to wake up at 6:45 A.M. every morning. Nobody could go outside. No one could turn on lights at night. Anne mostly read books or wrote stories. Much of Anne’s diary was written while in hiding. Most of the families got separated, but Anne’s family never was. For this, they were lucky.
In 1944, their hiding place was revealed, and they were taken into custody. The day after their arrest they were transferred to the Huis Van Bewaring, a prison on Weteringschans. On Aug. 8, they were transported from the main railroad station in Amsterdam to the Westerbork detention camp. For a month, the Franks were kept in the “disciplinary barracks”, not as ordinary prisoners, but inmates convicted of a crime. The crime was hiding.
On September 3, 1944, aboard the last transport to leave the Netherlands, Anne’s family and those who were with them, were brought to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. By then more than 100,000 Dutch Jews had been deported. This last transport held 498 men, 442 women, and 79 children a total of 1,019 people. This transport arrived in Aushwitz during the night of September 5. Right after they got there, men and women were separated. The following day, 549 people from this last transport, among them all the children less than 15 years of age, were sent to the gas chambers, where they would be killed. Women who had not been selected for extinction had to walk to the Birkenau women’s camp. Edith Frank and her daughters were among them. This camp was known as a “death camp”. They had a goal to get rid of all the Jews and Gypsies.
By September 1944, almost two million people had been gassed. After the arrival of the last transport from Westerbork, there were about 39,000 people in the women’s camp. Margot and Anne stayed there for almost two months. They were then to be shipped to Bergen-Belsen. Mrs. Frank didn’t want to leave her daughters, so she stayed with them until they were shipped away. On January 6, 1945, Edith Frank died in Aushwitz-Birkenau of grief and exhaustion. Anne and Margot were sent to Bergen-Belsen on October 28. Margot and Anne died within days of each other, of the disease typhus. Bergen-Belsen was liberated by the British shortly after, on April 15, 1945. Of the last transport, with 1,019 people, that left Westerbork on September 3, 1944 for Aushwitz, 45 men and 82 women survived.
Anne’s father lived on for many years and made sure that Anne’s diary was published. Her diary was published in 1947 and was then made into a film. This diary helps people remember what the Jews went through. By remembering, it is hoped something like this will never happen again. As Anne said in her diary, “In spite of everything, I still believe, people are truly good at heart”.