The Frank family lived in Amsterdam, having moved there in 1933, the year the Nazis gained control over Germany. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the day Anne Frank received a red plaid book for her 13th birthday on June 12, 1942. Anne had shown it her father in a shop window a few days earlier. Although it was an autograph book, Anne decided that she would use it as a diary, and she began writing in it almost immediately. In addition to documenting her experiences during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, she also wrote about her feelings, beliefs, and ambitions.
As persecutions of the Jewish population increased in July 1942, the family went into hiding in a secret annex of an office building where Anne’s father, Otto Frank, worked. The Frank sisters each hoped to return to school as soon as they were able, and continued with their studies while in hiding. Much of Anne’s time was spent reading and writing, and she aspired to be a journalist. “But,” she wrote, “and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?”
Anne continued writing regularly until her last entry on August 1, 1944. After two years, the family was betrayed and transported to concentration camps. Anne and her sister, Margot, both died of typhus in March 1945 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Otto Frank, the only survivor of the family, returned to Amsterdam after the war. The Frank family’s photo albums, as well as Anne’s writings, had been saved by a family friend and were returned to him.
Moved by Anne’s wish to be an author, Otto Frank considered having her journal published even though she wrote several times that she would never allow anyone to read it. His efforts led to its publication in 1947. It was translated from its original Dutch and first published in English in 1952 under the title Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl. In her introduction to the first American edition, Eleanor Roosevelt described it as “one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read.”
The book has since been translated into many languages, and Anne posthumously gained international fame. Over the years, several films about Anne Frank appeared. Her life and writings have also inspired references in literature, popular music, television, and other media. In 1999 TIME magazine named Anne Frank among the heroes and icons of the 20th century on their list of The Most Important People of the Century, stating: “With a diary kept in a secret attic, she braved the Nazis and lent a searing voice to the fight for human dignity.”
Visit the official Anne Frank House Museum (Amsterdam) at http://www.annefrank.org.
Visit the Anne Frank Center USA (New York) at http://www.annefrank.com.
Visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Exhibition on “Anne Frank, the Writer: An Unfinished Story” at http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/af/htmlsite/