On July 6, 1942, in Nazi-occupied Holland, 13-year-old Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family are forced to take refuge in a secret sealed-off area of an Amsterdam warehouse. The day before, Anne’s older sister, Margot, had received a call-up notice to be deported to a Nazi “work camp.”
Born in Germany on June 12, 1929, Anne Frank fled to Amsterdam with her family in 1933 to escape Nazi persecution. In the summer of 1942, with the German occupation of Holland underway, 12-year-old Anne began a diary relating her everyday experiences, her relationship with her family and friends, and observations about the increasingly dangerous world around her. On July 6, fearing deportation to a Nazi concentration camp, the Frank family took shelter in a factory run by Christian friends. During the next two years, under the threat of murder by the Nazi officers patrolling just outside the warehouse, Anne kept a diary that is marked by poignancy, humor, and insight.
On August 4, 1944, just two months after the successful Allied landing at Normandy, the Nazi Gestapo discovered the Frank’s “Secret Annex.” The Franks were sent to the Nazi death camps along with two of the Christians who had helped shelter them, and another Jewish family and a single Jewish man with whom they had shared the hiding place. Anne and most of the others ended up at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Anne’s diary was left behind, undiscovered by the Nazis.
In early 1945, with the Soviet liberation of Poland underway, Anne was moved with her sister, Margot, to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Suffering under the deplorable conditions of the camp, the two sisters caught typhus and died in early March. After the war, Anne’s diary was discovered undisturbed in the Amsterdam hiding place and in 1947 was translated into English and published. An instant best-seller and eventually translated into more than 30 languages, The Diary of Anne Frank has served as a literary testament to the six million Jews, including Anne herself, who were silenced in the Holocaust.
Last year my daughter and I attended a production of the Diary of Anne Frank performed by a local theater group and it was a very moving experience. The actors pulled you into the story and even though her story was so well known to us, it was still fresh. You didn’t know how to act at the end as normally you applaud in theater but I guess the tears in the eyes of the audience was how we communicated our appreciation for show. The theater also had a display of Holocaust artifacts on loan from a local Jewish Center.