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The diary of Anne Frank: how a young girl in hiding gave hope to people everywhere.

On the morning of July 9, 1942, Anne Frank's mother awakened her at half, past five. It was wartime, and German soldiers were arresting Jews every day. The Frank family had decided to go into hiding.

Anne, her parents, and her older sister, Margot, quickly left their home in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

"The four of us were wrapped in so many layers of clothes," Anne later recalled in her diary, "it looked as if we were going off to spend the night in a refrigerator."

The family had to leave most of their possessions behind, including their cat, Moortje. But Anne was able to take her diary. She had received it as a gift a month earlier, on her 13th birthday. In the small, plaid notebook Anne wrote about her life in the "Secret Annex," a series of back rooms at the top of an old office building, where the Frank family hid for 25 months.

Anne's father, Otto, had started a food-supplies company in the building, which was in a crowded area of Amsterdam. Two non-Jewish partners now ran the business. They and a few office workers risked their lives to help keep the family safe. Whenever possible, they brought groceries, books, and news from the outside world.

Hitler's Rise

This was the second time the Franks had been forced to flee their home. Eight years earlier they had left Germany, after Adolf Hitler came to power.

In his autobiography, Mein Kampf (German for My Struggle), Hitler wrote that Germans were members of the Aryan race, which was superior because of its "purity." This gave Aryans the "moral right" to destroy "lesser" races of Eastern Europe and Russia--especially Jews.

When Hitler became dictator in 1933, he put his anti-Semitic (hostile toward Jews) beliefs into practice. His Nazi Party passed anti-Jewish laws and built concentration camps, where they killed 4 million Jews. Another 2 million died outside the camps.

The Nazis also killed millions of other people whom Hitler considered inferior, including Gypsies, Slavs, and the disabled.

Hitler's murderous hatred soon spread across Europe. He invaded Austria in 1938 and, a year later, seized Czechoslovakia. On September 1, 1939, his troops marched into Poland, starting World War II.

By the spring of 1940, German soldiers had taken control of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. The elimination of Jews in these countries was part of Hitler's plan to conquer the world.

On June 20, 1942, Anne wrote about the hatred Jews in the Netherlands faced: "Jews were required to wear a yellow star; Jews were required to turn in their bicycles; Jews were forbidden to use streetcars. [My friend] always said to me, 'I don't dare do anything anymore. 'cause I'm afraid it's not allowed.'"

"Dearest Kitty"

While Hitler's Holocaust (mass murder) continued, the Franks stayed in hiding. Otto's business partner, Hermann van Pels, his wife, Auguste, and their 15-year-old son, Peter, lived with them. Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist, later joined the two families. He shared a room with Anne, much to her dismay: "As if I don't hear 'shh, shh' enough during the day because I'm always making 'too much' noise, my dear roommate has come up with the idea of saying 'shh, shh' to me all night too."

Anne recorded everything about her life--from the hours of boredom to the moments of terror. "We had a short circuit last night," she wrote on March 10, 1943, "and besides that, the guns were booming away until dawn. I still haven't gotten over my fear of planes and shooting, and I crawl into Father's bed nearly every night for comfort."

The youngest of the group, Anne was highly spirited and talkative. Her behavior often got her into trouble. "Mother's nerves are very much on edge," she wrote in one. typical entry, "and that doesn't bode well for me. Is it just a coincidence that Father and Mother never scold Margot and always blame me?"

Like many teens, Anne often felt misunderstood. For "comfort and support" she turned to her diary, which she named Kitty.

Anne told Kitty about her longings and dreams--and about her crush on Peter. "My dearest Kitty," Anne wrote on February 27, 1944, "from early in the morning to late at night, all I do is think about Peter. I fall asleep with his image before my eyes, dream about him, and wake up with him still looking at me."

But life in hiding--with its joys, tensions, and fears--would soon come to a tragic end. On August 4, 1944, Nazi soldiers burst into the Secret Annex and arrested the eight people in hiding. All were taken to concentration camps. To this day, no one knows who betrayed the group.

One of Anne's childhood friends, Hannah Goslar, ended up at the German camp Bergen-Belsen with the Frank sisters. "Anne came to the barbed-wire fence," Hannah later recalled. "There wasn't much light. Maybe I saw her shadow. It wasn't the same Anne. She was a broken girl." Soon thereafter, Anne died of typhus. She was 15.

Otto Frank was the only member of the group to survive. After the war he learned that Miep Gies, who helped to hide the family, had found Anne's diary and other writings scattered on the floor of the annex. He was astonished when he read his daughter's words. Soon, the world would know about this courageous girl who never let go of her dreams.

"I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness," Anne wrote in one of her last entries. "I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquillity will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I'll be able to realize them!"

On June I2, events around the world will commemorate Anne Frank's 75th birthday. Millions of people everywhere continue to be inspired by her remarkable story.

write it!

Anne saw herself as having "a great deal of self-knowledge," Write a paragraph describing your personality. Then share what you wrote with a classmate. Does he or she agree with your observations?




Students should understand

* Anne Frank kept a diary of her experiences while hiding from the Nazis during World War II.


Ask students to share what they might know about the Holocaust. Conduct a classroom discussion on what students can learn about the Holocaust through the analysis of history and the personal accounts of Holocaust survivors.


In countries occupied by Nazi Germany, Jews were forced to live in ghettos and were employed as slave labor. The Jews were eventually shipped to concentration camps. There, most were gassed and their corpses burned in ovens. In the Auschwitz camp, located in Poland, as many as 2,000 prisoners were sent into poison-gas chambers at one time. Historians estimate that more than 1 million people were murdered at Auschwitz alone.


MAKING CONNECTIONS: What was life like for European Jews living in Nazi-occupied territories during World War II? (Life was highly dangerous for Jews living in those areas. The Nazis made the elimination of the Jewish race a goal. Jews were faced with the threat of death or imprisonment every day.)

MAKING INFERENCES: What do you think Anne meant when she wrote in her diary: "I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us, too"? (Answers will vary. Students might say that the thunder is the sound of war, and that Anne anticipated death at the hands of the Nazis.)


MAKING HISTORY: Brainstorm with students about significant events, accomplishments, and stories that have occurred in their lives. Instruct students to write an autobiography, and to include emotions, settings, images, and conflicts.



* Time, continuity, and place: How millions of European Jews and others were killed during the Holocaust in World War II.

* Individuals, groups, and institutions: How Anne Frank's diary has become a valuable historical account of the Holocaust.



* Frank, Anne, The Diary of Anne Frank (Bantam Books, 1997). Grades 6-8.

* Lowry, Lois, Number the Stars (Bantam Doubleday, 1998). Grades 5-8.


* The Anne Frank Center

* United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
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Title Annotation:History
Author:McCabe, Suzanne
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Apr 5, 2004
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