www.whyville.net Mar 16, 2008 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

The Girl Behind the Diary

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Anne Frank. One of the world's best known children of the Holocaust. Probably THE best known child of the Holocaust. A girl who wrote in a diary in hiding then later forced into Hitler's gruesome concentration camps. Anne Frank was a Jew. That was the only crime she ever committed.

For those of you who don't know I'll give a basic background on Anne Frank.

Anne Frank was born June 12, 1929, a German-born Jewish girl in Frankfurt, Germany. Her real name was Anneliese Frank. Her father, Otto, mother, Edith, and her sister Margot (pronounced Mar-GO). Her sister Margot was born 3 years earlier in 1926. A funny fact: When Otto went to go register his daughter the clerks were confused. The clerk had recorded "infant Frank" as a boy!

Here are some pictures of Margot, Edith, and Otto.

Anne grew up playing around with the children until she started going to school. Anne was quite popular. She had irresistible charm and many boys liked her. Funny fact: One of Anne's ways to entertain her other peers was to pop her shoulder in and out of place! One boy that Anne's relatives remember most is Hello Silberberg. During the time when Jews' rights were just beginning to be taken away she took long walks and had lots of fun with him.

On June 12, 1942 Anne woke up at 6:00 on her 13th birthday. That was the morning she received the red and light green (others prefer to think of it as red and white) plaid autograph book. In her first entry she wrote, "I hope I shall be able to confide in you completely, as I have never been able to do in anyone before, and I hope that you will be a great support and comfort to me."

Here are three of the most famous photos of Anne:

Here is a sample of what Anne's writing looked like:

Anne obviously didn't write or speak English. She wrote in German!

After a few entries in her diary she started titling her entries "Dear Kitty." Why? No one knows for sure. Some think it's because it was a character in one of her favorite book series.

Anne was quite a reader and writer. She wrote and read constantly throughout her childhood. (Well, what did you expect? Turn on the TV and watch "SpongeBob" or get on her Wii and bowl?)

Around the age of 10 a law was passed that required all Jews to wear a bright yellow star on all of their outside clothing. (Like anyone will care if you have a star sewn on to your boxers!) If you didn't wear it, you were arrested.

Soon after that, Jews weren't allowed into many stores, parks, movie theaters, or even swimming pools! Who was responsible for this? Adolf Hitler: leader of the Nazi's. An organization focused on taking over the world and wiping out the Jews.

You may think he's funny looking right? But remember, this man could easily kill a million Jews with a flick of his hand.

Jews were rounded up in the streets and taken to ghettos, a section of a city where all Jews were required to live. After some months they were herded into cattle cars and shipped off to concentration camps, places where Jews lived and worked under harsh conditions. If you were too old, too young, or too weak, you were shipped to the gas chambers and were killed.

So now let's get off this cheery and back to Anne Frank. On July 5, 1942 Edith Frank got a call-up notice from the S.S., a group responsible for collecting and rounding up Jews, that said they were calling up on Margot Frank to arrive at the train station to go to a labor camp. Edith got very worried. She rushed off to tell Otto at his office but ran into Margot and told her the news. When Anne found out Margot told her it was their father who was being called-up, not her. When Anne found out it was Margot who was being called-up they began packing immediately.

About a month earlier, Anne's father had been talking about going into hiding. You see, Otto's work had several rooms behind it in a hard to find doorway. Otto decided this was the perfect place to go into hiding. Over the past few months, the Franks had been smuggling their stuff into the rooms secretly. The only people Otto told about this was his family and his co-workers, Miep (MEEP) Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, and Bep Voskuijl.

The very next morning the Franks went into hiding. Margot went first riding her bicycle. This was dangerous for 2 reason. Jews weren't allowed to ride bikes and she wasn't wearing her yellow star. The rest of the Franks followed (yellow stars on) and into the secret hiding place. The only thing the Franks had to mourn about was leaving their cat behind, Moortje.

A few days later the van Pels (or van Daans as referred to in Anne's diary) came. There was Peter van Pels who was sixteen and the van Pels only child, Auguste van Pels who was the mother of the family, and Hermann van Pels, the father of the family. A few days later Fritz Pfeffer joined them. He was Meip's dentist.

From 1942 and 1944 the "Secret Annex" was the Frank's, van Pels', and the Pfeffer's home. Their survival depended on Gies, Kleiman, Kugler, and Voskuijl. To conceal the doors in case any Nazis stopped by Kugler placed a bookcase in front of the door. (Just like in the old Scooby-Doo cartoons!) You pull and a book and voila! It opens!

But on August 4, 1944 Anne's life will changed forever. Someone (and historians are still baffling over this) betrayed the 8 people in the Secret Annex to the Nazis. That morning officers burst into the office pointing revolvers at anyone in view at the office. They force Kugler to show them the Frank's hiding place. The first person they see is Ms. Frank, sitting in the room knitting. Anne, Margot, Pfeffer, Peter, Edith, Otto, and Mr. and Ms. van Pels are all herded into the sitting room. The officers start rooting through their stuff taking anything of value. When an officer roughly opens Anne's briefcase with her diary and other stories in it and dumps it on to the floor Anne begins to cry. They are told they have five minutes to pack and leave.

After a few months in Westerbork, a labor camp, the Franks, van Pels, and Pfeffer are herded onto a cattle car and taken to Auschwitz, a concentration camp. When arriving Anne was ripped from her father's arms and forced into the line with the other women. She found Margot and her mother. Officers shouted at them to get undressed quickly. Then they were taken to a room to have their pubic and head hair shaved off. This was supposedly to have been to prevent fleas and lice but it was really to humiliate the women. Then they were taken into a large room and showered and sprayed with disinfectant. Then they slowly and painfully had numbers tattooed on their arms. Then they got dressed in "prison" uniforms and shoved off to roll call.

After a few months in Auschwitz Margot and Anne were taken onto a train to Bergen-Belsen, another concentration camp. They never saw Edith Frank again. Edith died shortly later from malnutrition. In Bergen-Belsen Anne found her friend, Lies Goosen. They talked through a barbed fence. One time, Lies threw a packet of food over the fence to Anne but another woman took the food. The second time Lies saw Anne, she was wrapped in a blanket. Anne said she couldn't stand the lice, crawling all over her body and threw away her clothes. Lies threw another packet of food over the fence and this time Anne caught it. Margot died in the early March of 1945. Anne died a few days later. About 2 weeks later, the camp was liberated.

Otto Frank was the only one in the Secret Annex who returned home. When he discovered Anne died, Miep gave him Anne's diary which she had collected after the officers left. Otto was amazed at Anne's knowledge. He sent the diary to a publisher. It was rejected at first but then later accepted. Anne's diary is the best selling book world wide. It's sold over 49 million copies.

Anne Frank was only 16 when she died.

But her memory lived on.


Author's Note: Sources: Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary by Ruud van der Rol and Rian Verhoeven, and Anne Frank by Melissa Muller.

Websites: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/frank.html
and http://www.biographyshelf.com/anne_frank_biography.html


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