Today is Anne Frank’s birthday. She would have been 83 years old today. Anne died of typhus sometime in March or April of 1945, while imprisoned in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. She was one of over a million Jewish children who died during the Holocaust. She was only fifteen years of age when she passed.
In 1942, for her thirteenth birthday, Anne received the gift of a journal of blank pages from her parents. This is a photograph of their gift to Anne.
Anne used this journal to create a diary. She filled its pages with her thoughts, opinions, and photographs.
From June 12, 1942, until December, 1942, Anne faithfully made entries into this journal. When this first diary was filled, Anne continued her chronicle in notebooks and on loose pieces of paper. During this time Anne also wrote short stories and fairy tales. Her aspiration was to become a writer after the war was over.
On July 7, 1942, l less than one month after receiving the journal, Anne, her sister Margot, and their parents, Edith and Otto, went into hiding in a concealed attic of the building that housed a business that Anne’s father had established in Amsterdam, Holland.
This is a photograph of Anne and her family not too long before they went into hiding. Otto Frank had hoped to keep his family safe from persecution by the German forces which had invaded Holland in May of 1940. The Frank family had fled from Germany to the Netherlands in an attempt to escape the persecutions Jewish families were subjected to under the Hitler regime. When the Germans invaded Holland, Otto attempted to get his family out of Holland, but was unsuccessful.
For two years, the Frank family hid in the small attic space along with four others……
They were protected by four of Otto Frank’s most trusted employees.
Anne’s last diary entry was August 1, 1944. On August 4, 1944, the German Order Police, acting on a tip from an anonymous informer, came to search the building where the refugees were hidden. They discovered the refugees hiding in the building’s annex.
All the refugees were arrested and sent to the infamous Auschwitz prison camp. Otto Frank was separated from his family upon arrival. He never saw his family again
Miep Gies went back to the hidden annex after the arrests and took possession of Anne’s journals and papers along with several Frank family photo albums. She hid them away thinking that one day the war would be over and the Frank family would return from Auschwitz and that she would give the journals back to Anne. Miep, out of respect for Anne, never read the journals.
After the war was over, Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam. He was the only survivor of the eight refugees that had hidden in the annex. Miep returned Anne’s journals and the family photo albums to Otto. Ann’s journals were eventually published in book form. The name of the book is Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl……
The story of Anne Frank mirrors that of the millions of human beings who were murdered during the German occupations. The numbers killed are staggering……
Jews- 5.9 million
Soviet POW’s- 3.3 million
Non-Jewish Poles- 1.8 – 2 million
Romanis (‘gypsies’)- 220,000- 270,000 (but even the higher figure may be too low)
Disabled- 200,000 – 250,000
Homosexuals- 5,000 – 15,000
Jehovah’s Witnesses- 2,500 – 5,000
I read Anne Frank, The Story of a Young Girl when I was thirteen years of age. I’ve never forgotten the feelings that reading Anne’s diary evoked. It was the first time in my life that I really understood that even though I was young and healthy, a full lifespan was not a guaranteed thing. Through the words of Anne I felt a kinship with a peer who would forever remain frozen in time at age fifteen……
So, today is Anne Frank’s birthday. She would have been 83 years old. I remember you today, Anne. I wish I could tell you that your dreams of a better, more peaceful world had come true. I’m sorry that I can’t. The world is still occupied by numberless individuals who are intolerant of those who are different from them. Hate and cruelty still exists, Anne. So does kindness, forgiveness, and hope…….
Happy birthday, Anne Frank. I remember you……..
If you would like to learn more about the life and times of Anne Frank, these are some excellent resources:
If you would like to gain some insight into the world the way it was for Anne and her family, visit The Secret Annex . This awesome site combines, sounds, pictures, and a 3-D tour of the actual building where the Frank family hid. It sent chills down my spine.
To read Anne’s published diary visit your local library, or you can purchase a copy at Amazon. Currently, due to issues with the copyright owners of Anne’s diary, there is no longer free online access to this book.
My old friend, Wikipedia, also has an excellent accounting of Anne Frank’s story.
I think today I’m going to ignore all my petty problems and reread Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl today. I haven’t been thirteen for many, many years now and I’ve grown a bit jaded about the possibility of peaceful coexhistance happening any time soon. Like Anne, I haven’t given up hoping that someday our world will evolve into a place where peace and tollerance for all exists in the hearts and actions of my fellow humans. Maybe it won’t happen in my lifetime. Maybe, someday………