A little on the major events in and around Anne Frank’s life, leading up to the writing of her diary and after.
Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany to Otto and Edith on 12th June 1929 where she lived with her mother, father and older sister Margot. Four years later Hitler and his party, the NSDAP, come to power. On 23rd March 1933 the majority of the German parliament voted in favour of the ‘Enabling Act’ allowing Hitler to pass new laws with out the say of the German parliament (Reichstag). The law allowed Adolf Hitler to become a Dictator.
The growing tension and increased persecution of Jews following these events led the Franks to move to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where her father Otto started a business. Life for the Jewish Germans grew increasingly worse. 15th September 1935 introduced the Nuremberg Race Laws, stripping German Jews of their citizenship and denying them access to certain civil rights. Jews could no longer vote or work for the government, Marriages between Jews and Germans were forbidden. On the 1st September 1939 Germany invades Poland marking the start of the Second World War. Germany continues to expand invading Austria, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. 10th May 1940, Germany invades the Netherlands, after 5 days of fighting and the bombing of Rotterdam, the Netherlands surrender and the German occupation begins. The Dutch Jews were immediately met with discriminatory measures.
The 22nd and 23rd February 1941 see the first mass deportation of Dutch Jews, 427 men were violently arrested and forcibly deported from Amsterdam, the strikes resulting from these actions were also brutally put down, protesters were shot at and many arrested or killed. Weeks after these events Austrian Nazi Arthur Seyss-Inquart says this in his speech to the Dutch section of the NSDAP (German Nazi party) ‘I would like to take this opportunity to say something about the Jewish question. We do not consider the Jews to be members of the Dutch nation. To us, the Jews are not Dutch. The Jews are the enemy with whom no armistice or peace can be made. Do not expect me to lay this down in a regulation except in police measures. We will smite the Jews where we meet them and whoever goes along with them must take the consequences.’ The words a clear warning to the Dutch Jewish and those supporting them.
The Dutch Jews were increasingly restricted in there day to day lives, identification cards were introduced to track down resistance fighters, a large ‘J’ was later added to easily identify Jews. The Nazi party began to strip Dutch Jews of possessions and money using the Liro Bank in Amsterdam. The Nazi’s introduced the Star of David to the Netherlands from 3rd May 1942 Jewish people would have to start wearing a Star of David badge with the word Jew in the middle, further isolating and widening the gap between Jews and non-Jews.
The Frank family amid the deteriorating situation seek to escape the Netherlands. Otto applied for entry to the United States in 1938, the mass application for entry to the US by Jews fleeing Germany meant that applications took a long time to be processed. The bombing of Rotterdam destroyed the consulate and all records were lost. Otto also started an application to Cuba but this was cancelled 11th December 1941. With no options to flee to a safe country The Franks planned to go into hiding. The family planned to go into hiding in an annex set up inside Otto’s business, the move was planned for 16 July 1942 but was moved forwards to 5th when Margot, Ann’s sister received a call-up to report to a labour camp in Germany. Ann wrote about the event in her diary.
The Franks were joined in the secret annex by Hermann and Auguste van Pels, and their son Peter. Hermann and Otto had worked on creating the secret annex together. latter they would be joined by Fritz Pfeffer on 16 November 1942, Fritz was dentist to Miep Gies (one of Otto’s employees and a close friend of the family). Outside of the annex thing were further deteriorating for Dutch Jews. Rauter, head of the German SS and the police stated that no Jew could stay in Amsterdam without permission. Only 750 Jew reported to the military police on 20th May 1943 and were sent to Westerbork. In reaction to the low number of Jewish people reporting in the Germans held a raid in Amsterdam a arrested 3,000, who were also sent on to Westerbork. Major raids were carried out on 20 June, 29 September 1943 approximately 17,000 Jews were arrested and taken to Westerbork.
On the morning of 4 August 1944 Police search the offices where the secret annex is hidden and discover the hiding place, the two families are arrested as well as two of the people helping to hide them Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler. They are all imprisoned and questioned at an SD prison on Euterpestraat. They were then separated and sent to different detention centres the helpers were sent to Amstelveenseweg and the 8 from the annex to Weteringschans. Miep Gies finds Anne’s diary within the annex keeping it safe until she handed it over to Otto Frank after the war.
3 September 1944 the 8 from the annex are transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they are separated, men and women. This is the last time Otto sees his wife and daughters. Out of 1,011 other Jews they arrived with 371 are deemed unfit for work and sent to the gas chambers. The people from the secret annex were deemed fit. Edith, Margot, Anne, and Auguste stayed in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. Otto, Hermann, Peter and Fritz were sent to camp Auschwitz I were they were forced to do heavy labour.
On 30 October 1944 Anne, Margot, and Auguste, were taken to Bergen-Belsen, among 1,000 other women. Edith was left in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Little is know about what the 3 went through at Bergen-Belsen, the camp was over crowded, filthy and poor conditions led to the spread of disease. February 1945 both Anne and Margot Frank contracted typhus and died within days of each other. Out of the 8 people from the secret annex only Otto survived.