by Larry Oxenham, Publisher
ANNE FRANK’S STORY: Anne Frank was born on 12 June 1929 in the German town of Frankfurt am Main, home of her father, Otto, and his family for generations. Along with her older sister, Margot, she enjoyed a carefree life until Hitler rose to power and anti-semitism forced her family to leave Germany.
Otto set up a business in Amsterdam and the family found a home on the Merwedeplein. Striving for a normal life Anne and her sister attended school, Otto worked the business and the mom, Edith, looked after the home. But the threat of war in Europe forced Otto to try to take his family to England or the USA, but their attempt failed.
Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 – Anne was 10 years old – and World War II started.
The citizens of Amsterdam hoped war would not reach them but, on May 10, 1940, German troops invaded the country and just five days later The Netherlands surrendered. Anti-Jewish regulations followed, Jews were restricted in travel, Anne and her sister had to attend a Jewish school, and Otto lost his business.
Otto again failed in an attempt to emigrate to the U.S. and then decided to take his family into hiding. He furnished the house behind his business along with a partner and some employees and this became the family hiding place. When Margot received a call to a German work camp on July 5, 1942, the family went into hiding: along with another family they remained in hiding for two years.
Friends arranged food, clothes and books and are their only contact with the outside world. Shortly before going into hiding Anne received a diary for her birthday and began writing about life in their secret annex. She also began working on a ‘novel’ she calls ‘Secret War Diaries‘.
On 4 August 1944 the family was discovered and arrested and sent to the Amersfoort camp. Anne’s diary and papers were left behind after the arrest and rescued by family friends.
The reason their hiding place was revealed to the Germans and who was responsible has never been clearly established.
Otto Frank was the only one of the eight people in hiding to survive the war. During his long journey back to The Netherlands he learned that his wife, Edith, died. He was unable to find anything out about his daughters so he returned to Amsterdam.
He later learned that both Anne and her sister died of disease and deprivation in Bergen-Belsen, a notorious concentration and extermination camp.
Anne’s diary was given him by his friends, he read it and discovered a completely different Anne.
Anne wrote in her diary that she wanted to be a writer or a journalist and that she wanted her diary published as a novel. Otto Frank’s friends convinced him to follow her wishes and, on June 25, 1947, ‘The Secret Annex’ was published in an edition of 3,000. The story was successful and followed by a play and a film.
People the world over were moved by Anne’s story.
The Anne Frank House became a museum in 1960. I visited it shortly after my 21st birthday and never forgot the ingenious methods used to hide the rooms below the floor and behind the walls and the incredible strength it must have taken for two young girls and their family to stay absolutely quiet year after year.
Anne Frank did not get a chance to grow up but her courage and her ability to write about her struggles, remind all of us our challenges can be overcome.
Heartily recommend you read her diary and, if you can, travel to Amsterdam to visit the Anne Frank Museum.