(b. June 12, 1929, Frankfurt am Main, Ger.—d. March 1945, Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, near Hannover)
Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who wrote a diary of her family’s two years in hiding during the German occupation of The Netherlands, personalized the Holocaust for generations of readers. The Diary of a Young Girl (published posthumously) has become a classic of war literature.
Early in the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, Anne’s father, Otto Frank (1889–1980), a German businessman, took his wife and two daughters to live in Amsterdam. In 1941, after German forces occupied The Netherlands, Anne was compelled to transfer from a public to a Jewish school. Faced with deportation (supposedly to a forced-labour camp), the Franks went into hiding on July 9, 1942, with four other Jews in the back-room office and warehouse of Otto Frank’s food-products business. With the aid of a few non-Jewish friends who smuggled in food and other supplies, they lived confined to their secret annex until Aug. 4, 1944, when the Gestapo, acting on a tip from Dutch informers, discovered them.
The family was transported to Westerbork, a transit camp in The Netherlands, and from there to Auschwitz in German-occupied Poland on Sept. 3, 1944, on the last transport to leave Westerbork for Auschwitz. Anne (in full Annelies Marie) and her sister Margot were transferred to Bergen-Belsen the following month. Anne’s mother died in early January, just before the evacuation of Auschwitz on Jan. 18, 1945. Both Anne and Margot died in a typhus epidemic in March 1945, only weeks before the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. Otto Frank was found hospitalized at Auschwitz when it was liberated by Russian troops on Jan. 27, 1945.
Friends who had searched the family’s hiding place after their capture later gave Otto Frank the papers left behind by the Gestapo. Among them he found Anne’s diary, which was published as The Diary of a Young Girl (originally in Dutch, 1947). Precocious in style and insight, it traces her emotional growth amid adversity. In it she wrote, “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
The diary has been translated into more than 65 languages and is the most widely read diary of the Holocaust, and Anne is probably the best-known of Holocaust victim. A new English translation, published in 1995, contained material edited out of the original version, making the new work nearly one-third longer. The Frank family’s hiding place on the Prinsengracht-a canal in Amsterdam-has become a museum.