The Diary of a Young Girl | Study Guide

Anne Frank

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Anne Frank | Biography


Annelies Marie Frank was born June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, as membership in the Nazi Party under dictator Adolf Hitler was growing (1933–45). In 1933, when the Nazis took over the German government, Anne's father, Otto, moved the family to Amsterdam, Netherlands. There, the Franks lived in relative comfort for several years. Anne's father was managing director of a company that sold spices and jam. Anne went to a local Montessori school, where she had a large circle of friends. Her sister, Margot, who was three years older than she, went to a more traditional school.

In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland—the beginning of World War II. Though the Dutch government tried to resist, Germany invaded on May 10, 1940. The country surrendered to Nazi rule only five days later, and Nazi oppression of Jews began soon after. Jews were no longer allowed to own businesses, and Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend school with Christians. Anne and Margot transferred to a Jewish school. In 1942 they were forced to wear yellow stars and the word Jew on their clothing.

Anne received a diary on her 13th birthday and immediately began writing about her life. On July 5, 1942, her sister, Margot, was called for duty at a "work camp" in Germany. The family feared, with good reason, that Margot would come to harm at a labor camp, which was used by the Germans for forced labor, detention, and mass murder. If Margot were not to comply with the notice, the whole family would be arrested. Knowing this, the Franks immediately went into hiding in two rooms on the second floor of Otto Frank's office building, which Anne in her diary would call "the Secret Annex." Until the day the residents were arrested, Anne never went outside the Secret Annex again.

Determined that their daughters should continue their studies, the Franks brought a wide variety of schoolbooks with them. Anne studied German, Dutch, English, French, geometry, algebra, geography, history, mythology, art history, biology, biblical history, and shorthand. Her goal was to become a professional writer, and she worked on many short stories and also revised her diary, planning to have it published after the war. She wrote about the details of daily life in the Secret Annex, wartime news, and her thoughts and emotions about a wide variety of subjects, including her struggles as a teenage girl.

On August 4, 1944, the Secret Annex was raided by a Nazi sergeant and several Dutch members of the Security Police. No one knows how they discovered the Secret Annex, or who may have betrayed the residents. The eight residents were eventually deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. One of four secret helpers, Miep Gies, found Anne's diary and preserved it.

In October 1944, Anne and Margot were transported to a German concentration camp called Bergen-Belsen. Their mother remained in Auschwitz, where she died in January 1945. A typhus epidemic at Bergen-Belsen killed first Margot and then Anne, who probably died in February or March 1945, just weeks before the camp was liberated by British troops. The only resident of the Secret Annex to survive the war was Anne's father, Otto. After Auschwitz was liberated, he returned to Amsterdam, where Miep Gies gave him two of Anne's diaries: the original she had received on her 13th birthday and a copy she had revised in the hope it would be published.

Otto reflected that the diaries "revealed a completely different Anne to the child that [he] had lost. [He] had had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings." When he read that Anne had hoped to publish a version of the diary, he typed it up and submitted it for publication. The diary was published on June 25, 1947. "If she had been here," said Otto, "Anne would have been so proud."

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