Frank, Anne (1929-1945), German-Jewish diarist, known for the diary she wrote while hiding from anti-Jewish persecution in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, during World War II (1939-1945). Her diary describes with wisdom and humor the two arduous years she spent in seclusion before her tragic death at the age of 15. Since it was first published in 1947, her diary has appeared in more than 50 languages. Perhaps more than any other figure, Anne Frank gave a human face to the victims of the Holocaust.
Annelies Marie Frank was born on June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The Frank family left Germany in 1933 to escape the anti-Jewish measures of National Socialism, commonly called Nazism. Anne’s father, Otto, took the family to Amsterdam, where he had established a small food-products business. When Germany invaded The Netherlands in 1940, the Franks once again became subject to escalating anti-Semitic persecution. In 1941 Anne was required to transfer from a public school to a Jewish school. Secretly, Otto Frank prepared a hiding place by sealing off several rooms at the rear of his Amsterdam office building. The rooms Frank concealed were hidden by a swinging bookcase.
In June 1942 Anne received a diary for her 13th birthday. She began to write down her thoughts and experiences in the form of letters to an imaginary friend. One month later the Franks went into hiding in the office building. For the next two years the Frank family shared cramped quarters with four other Jewish people. They were aided by several non-Jewish friends, including Miep Gies, who published her memoirs, Anne Frank Remembered, in 1987.
Over the course of 25 months, Anne recorded her experiences while hiding from German troops. Her diary describes the fears and emotional conflicts of people crowded together in secrecy, as well as humorous and joyful moments. These include birthday celebrations and Anne’s first experience with falling in love. Many of the passages concern Anne’s emotional growth and her discoveries about herself, other people, and the beauty of life. With hopes of becoming a professional writer, she produced a first and second draft of her diary, as well as various short stories.
Anne and the others in the group were discovered and arrested by the Gestapo, the German secret police, on August 4, 1944. Members of the group were deported, first to Westerbork prison in The Netherlands, then to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where the Franks were separated. Anne and her older sister, Margot, were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died of typhus. Of the Frank family, only Otto survived.
Returning to Amsterdam, Otto compiled an account of the hiding period from Anne’s two incomplete diary drafts, which had been saved by Miep Gies. The diary was first published in Dutch in 1947 as Het Achterhuis (The House Behind). German and French translations followed in 1950. An English translation, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, appeared in 1952. It was made into a Pulitzer Prize winning play by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett in 1956 and then into a motion picture in 1959. This publicity increased the diarist’s renown, linking her image with her most famous words: “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
In 1995 another version of Anne’s diary appeared that contained materials edited out of the original version, including passages in which Anne was critical of her parents. Afterward, the existence of several additional unpublished diary pages was revealed, and in 2001 a new edition of Anne’s diary was published with the missing pages restored.
Anne Frank’s brief life has been memorialized through the preservation of her hiding place as a museum. The Anne Frank House, with nearly 1 million visitors annually, is one of Amsterdam’s largest attractions. The museum is operated by a Dutch foundation that fights discrimination through educational programs and international exhibitions.