Anne Frank: A Brief Life, A Lasting Legacy



Annelies (Anne) Frank was born in the German city of Frankfurt  in 1929. After the rise of Hitler in 1933, Otto and Edith Frank decided to move their family to Amsterdam, Netherlands to escape increasing antisemitism in Germany. Anne was just ten years old when Germany invaded Poland, sparking WWII. On May 10, 1940, seven years after the Franks fled Germany, the Netherlands fell to Nazi Germany and the persecution was once again on their doorstep. After Margot received a call-up to report to a labor camp in July 1942, the Frank family went into hiding in the abandoned offices located behind Otto Frank's business. In what Anne later dubs the "secret annex," the Franks, van Pels (another German-Jewish family), and Fritz Pfeffer  (German-Jewish refugee) lived for two years before they were discovered and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Anne and Margot were deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp two months later, where they both died of typhoid just weeks before the camp was liberated. 


"The Short Life of Anne Frank," via Anne Frank House

"Anne Frank: The Only Existing Film Images," via Anne Frank House

The Holocaust in the Netherlands

Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940 and immediately began to implement anti-Jewish measures, including removing Jews from civil service and requiring all Jews to register themselves. As of April 29, 1942, Jews were required to wear a yellow star inscribed with "Jood" on their clothing. The Dutch population, similar to other occupied populations, had a mix of collaborators and resisters. Organized and centralized Dutch resistance came into being in 1943 as the National Organization to Help Those in Hiding (LO). The LO arranged hiding addresses, stole food stamps for those in hiding, and perpetrated attacks on local Nazi institutions. 


Deportations of Jews began in the summer of 1942 with the majority of Jews being transferred to the Westerbork transit camp before being sent to extermination camps in the East. The last transport from Westerbok  left for Auschwitz on September 3, 1944, which included the Frank and van Pels families. During these two years, the Nazis and their Dutch collaborators deported 107,000 Jews, mostly to Auschwitz and Sobibor extermination camps. Only 5,200 survived the war. Of the 25,000-30,000 Jews who went into hiding, two-thirds survived. Less than 25% of the Dutch Jewish population survived the Holocaust.

Dutch Jews are rounded up for deportation in Amsterdam (via U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Tina Strobos describes courier duties for the Dutch Resistance (via U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

The Secret Annex

"A Day in the Secret Annex," Anne Frank House

Anne, her sister, father, mother, and the Van Pels family moved into a hidden apartment located in central Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1942. Anne went on to dub this the "secret annex" in her diary. View a 3D virtual tour of the Secret Annex.

Residents of the Secret Annex

Otto Frank was Anne's father and the only Frank family member to survive.

Edith Frank was Anne's mother. She died in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Margot Frank was the oldest child of Otto and Edith. She died in Bergen-Belsen.

Anne Frank was Otto and Edith's younger child. She died in Bergen-Belsen.

Hermann van Pels was Otto Frank's employee and Peter's father. He died in Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Auguste van Pels was Peter's mother. She died en route to Theresienstadt.

Peter van Pels was the only child of Hermann and Auguste, and Anne's love interest. He died in Mauthausen.

Fritz Pfeffer was a dentist before the war and the final inhabitant of the Annex. He died in Neuengamme.

Anne's Diary

Otto Frank was instrumental in cementing Anne's legacy around the world. After it was published in the Netherlands in 1947, Anne's diary went on to be published throughout Europe and the United States; became a Tony award-winning play; and inspired several films.

"Otto Frank talks about Anne's diary," via Anne Frank House

"Beautiful Quotes from Anne's Diary," via Anne Frank House

Curricular Materials:

Anne Frank: The Timeline (Anne Frank House)

Anne Frank: The Diary (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)
Reader's Companion to Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect)

Salvaged Pages (Facing History and Ourselves)
Teaching Holocaust History Using Survivor Testimony (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)
Teaching the Holocaust Through  Children's Diaries (Yad Vashem)