Tap to Read ➤

Life of Anne Frank: A Biography

Madhavi Ghare Mar 21, 2020
Anne Frank is one of the world's best remembered Holocaust victims. This story provides a brief account of her short life and also about the diary that made her an inspiration the world over.
"As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?"
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank (1929 - 1945) was a teen writer who went into hiding during the Holocaust. During her two years of hiding, she penned down an intimate write-up of her fears, her wishes, and what it felt like while hiding from Hitler's Nazis during the Holocaust in World War II.
Her renowned work The Diary of Anne Frank was later on read and revered by millions of readers.
I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.

Anne Frank's Childhood

The First Four Years

Annelies (Anne) Marie Frank was born on June 12, 1929 to Edith Frank Holländer and Otto Heinrich Frank. She was their second daughter; their first daughter Margot was three years old at the time, being born on February 16, 1926.
Otto Frank was a decorated army officer from World War I. He was working in a bank that was family-owned, while Edith was a stay-at-home mother who was raising their daughters.
The Franks were German Jews. However, they were very liberal in their approach and did not stringently and strictly follow the Judaism customs. The neighborhood in which they lived consisted of Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant families, and both the sisters had friends from different communities.
Along with this, they also received a lot of encouragement from their parents to read. Otto Frank had quite a considerable book collection in his library.

After Hitler's Rise to Power

On March 13, 1933, Adolf Hitler's National Socialist Party came to power. Anti-Semitism began to rise throughout Germany. Fearing for their lives, the Frank women, Edith, Anne, and Margot, moved in with Edith's mother Rosa Holländer, who lived in Aachen, in that same year, while Otto stayed on in Frankfurt.
Soon, Otto received a business opportunity in Amsterdam, which he took up. The company that he started was named Opekta Works, which sold pectin―a fruit extract that was used in making jams. At the same time, he also began to make preparations for a home so that his family could move.
In early 1934, Edith moved to Amsterdam with her daughters, and both the girls were enrolled in school. The Frank sisters had opposite personalities. Margot was reserved and shy, while Anne was an extrovert and very outgoing. Margot showed a wonderful talent for arithmetic, while Anne loved to read and write.
In 1938, Otto began working with another company named Pectacon as its director. The following year, Rosa Holländer moved in with the Franks and stayed with them till her death in 1942. In 1940, the Netherlands was invaded by Germany, and the discrimination of Jews began.
Jewish people were prohibited from doing things like going to the movies or even sitting in public parks. They had to wear the Star of David on their clothes. Jewish children were not allowed to study in non-Jewish schools. Anne and Margot were subsequently admitted into the Jewish Lyceum.
Jews were not allowed to own businesses and had to surrender them to non-Jewish people. Fearing that this would happen, Otto sold all his shares to his colleague Johannes Kleiman to prevent his business from being taken away from him. Johannes Kleiman was one of the people who helped the Franks when they were in hiding.

Life in the Secret Annexe

◈ On July 5, 1942, Margot received a letter ordering her to report to a German work camp. This was the final straw for the Franks, and they decided that they must go into hiding to protect the lives of their daughters.
They tried to emigrate to the USA at that time, but their attempts were unsuccessful. They had also tried to emigrate to both the USA and the UK previously, in 1939. Shortly before going into hiding, on June 12, Anne turned 13 years old. As a gift, she had received an autograph book with a red and white plaid cover with a lock on its front.
◈This became her first diary. "I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support."―this was was one of her very first entries.
◈ The Franks moved on the 6th of July, leaving their house in a complete mess and leaving behind a note suggesting that they were relocating to Switzerland. They left their house wearing all their clothes in layers, as carrying suitcases would attract attention and they could be arrested.
◈ They moved into a secret annex, which was a three-storied area in a rear building of the Opekta offices. The door to this annex was blocked by a movable bookcase. The Franks were aided by Opekta employees Miep Gies, Bep Voskuijl, Victor Kugler, and Johannes Kleiman, along with Bep's father Johannes Hendrik Voskuijl and Miep's husband Jan Gies.
◈These people brought the Franks their food, ensured that they were not discovered, and also kept them updated about the war. They were this family's only contact with the outside world.
◈ In the same month, the van Pels family also moved into the secret annex. They included Hermann and Auguste van Pels with their sixteen-year-old son Peter. They were soon followed by the dentist Fritz Pfeffer.
◈ Every person living in the annex had to be careful not to make any noise so that nobody in the downstairs office would hear them. They had to keep the windows covered up and talk to each other in whispers during the daytime.

Diary Excerpts

During the two years (July 6, 1942 to August 4, 1944) that they were in hiding, Anne wrote a lot. The forced closeness with all the inhabitants of the annex along with a complete cut off from the outside world probably made her write about the relationships she shared with each of these people.
"Peter's going on sixteen, a shy, awkward boy whose company won't amount to much ..." ―this was what she wrote about Peter initially. However, soon after, they became close friends and also shared a brief romance.

She wrote about...

how she did not like Auguste van Pels, and also wrote about her clashes with her own mother. Her relationship with her sister improved after they went into hiding, and the two soon became confidantes. About her sister she wrote, "Margot's much nicer ... she is becoming a real friend. She no longer thinks of me as a little baby who does not count."
She has also mentioned the six people who helped them stay hidden, the Gies', the Voskuijls, Kugler, and Kleiman. "They come upstairs every day and talk ... They put on their most cheerful expressions, bring flowers and gifts for birthdays and holidays, and are always ready to do what they can."
As she grew up, her diary also began to include various other topics, like life, what was going on in the outside world, and such others. Her writing style also became more mature.
Anne addressed the diary with many names, like 'Pop', 'Emmy', 'Loutje', 'Phien', 'Jackie', 'Jetty', 'Marianne', 'Conny', etc. These names featured in the diary from September 25, 1942 until November 13, 1942, when her first diary ended. In her second diary, nearly all the entries begin with 'Dear Kitty'.
There are many theories as to who Kitty could be. Some say it was the name of a character from the books written by author Cissy van Marxveldt, while some believe that it was one of Anne's friends.


◈ On the morning of August 4, 1944, following a tip-off from an informant who has not been identified till date, the Opekta offices and subsequently the secret annex were raided by German and Dutch police officers and all the inhabitants therein, along with Kugler and Kleiman.
◈ All were arrested and taken for questioning. Bep and Miep were allowed to go. The manner in which the arrests were made pointed to an informant instead of a chance discovery.
◈ After questioning, they were all sent to the Westerbork transit camp, and then deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
◈ Otto Frank later said, "The stairs were squeaking, I stood up, because it was still early in the morning and everyone was supposed to be quiet - then the door opened and a man was standing right in front of us with a gun in his hand and it was pointed at us."

Holocaust Experience

Upon arriving at Auschwitz, the men were separated from the women, and that was the last time that Otto Frank saw his family. Most of the prisoners were immediately sent off to the gas chambers to be killed. These included older people who were not fit for labor and children who were under 15 years of age. Anne assumed that her father had also been killed.
The environment at the camp was a breeding ground for disease, and before long, Anne contracted scabies, a skin condition. She and her sister were moved to the infirmary, which was dark, dingy, and full of rats and mice.
In October, more than 7,000 women were moved to the camp at Bergen-Belsen. Anne, Margot, and Auguste van Pels were among those who had to go. Edith, who had stopped eating by then, did not go with them. She died of starvation a few days later.


An epidemic of typhus struck the camp at Bergen-Belsen and killed more than 15,000 prisoners. Anne and Margot were among them. Margot contracted the disease first, and was too weak to go anywhere. It is believed that being severely ill and weak, Margot fell from her bunk and was killed by the subsequent shock.

Anne died a few days later. The British troops freed the prisoners and liberated the camps just a few weeks later.

The Diary

Shortly after the Frank and van Pels families and all the others were arrested, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijls had visited the annex and collected all the families' photographs and the loose sheets of paper that were strewn on the floor. 
Most of these were Anne's writings, which they kept along with her diary. They decided to give it to Anne after she was freed. However, Otto Frank was the only member of his family to survive the holocaust, and Miep handed him all of Anne's writings.
Anne had expressed a desire to have her diary published some day; she had the aspiration to become a journalist. As she writes, "I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that's what I want."
Otto decided to have his daughter's diary published as a novel. The first ever edition of the diary was published in the Netherlands by the name Het Achterhuis (Rear Annex), in the year 1947.
After being initially rejected in the United States for being 'too depressing', it was eventually published under the name The Diary of a Young Girl in 1952. From then on, the book has sold millions of copies and was even adapted into a play and a movie. It is also included as a part of the curriculum at many schools.
Anne Frank is a living proof of the indomitable human spirit. She is an inspiration for many, and she showed the world that a strong will can never be crushed and that courage always triumphs.