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It was Friday June 12, 1942, Anne Franks 13th birthday. Anne recived many gifts that day, including books, a jigsaw puzzle, a brooch, and candy. But the best present Anne got was a hard cover diary, covered with red and white checkered cloth. Anne had many friends, but with them she talked only about everyday things. Now her diary would be her very best friend, a friend she could trust with everything. Anne called her new friend "Kitty".
On the first page of her diary Anne wrote:
I hope I shall be able to confide in you completely, as I never have been able to anyone before, and I that you will be a great support and comfort to me.
Anne Frank, June 12, 1942
She continued to fill her diary for more than 2 years after that day. But on that day she could not imangine that her life would change so much, or that many years later millions of people all over the world, would read her diary.
After the summer holidays in 1941, Jewish children were not allowed to go to a puplic school. Anne and her sister, Margot, had to go to a Jewish school with only Jewish children and teachers. Later Anne wrote:
There have been all sorts of Jewish laws. Jews must wear a yellow star; Jews must hand in their bicycles; Jews are banned from trams and are forbidden to use any car, even a private one; Jews are only allowed to do their shopping between three and five oclock, and then only in shops which bear the placard Jewish Shop; Jews may only use Jewish barbers; Jews must be indoors from eight oclock in the evening until six oclock in the morning
But she didn't quite realize that things would get even worse...
It was July 5, 1492. The police had sent a call-up notice for Annes father, so her family decided to go into hiding. Anne started to pack her satchel. First she packed her diary, then her curlers, handkerchiefs, schoolbooks, comb and a few letters.
She wrote later:
I put in the craziest things with the idea that we were going into hiding, but Im not sorry, memories mean more to me than dresses.
(July 8, 1942)
Anne was woken by her mother on Monday July 6, 1942, at five-thirty. It was time to leave. Anne and her family put on a lot of clothes. The reason was because no Jew could dare to go out with a suitcase of clothing. Anne wore two vests, three pairs of pants, a dress, a skirt, a jacket, shorts, two pairs of stockings, lace-up shoes, a wooly cap, a scarf, and even more.
When the Franks were out in the street it was then that Anne was first told about the whole plan of going into hiding. For months her parents had been moving all sorts of things to the secret address. Their new home was in Annes fathers office. His office buildinglooked like it was like any other office building, but behind it there was another house, not visible from the road. This house was connected by a door, concealed behind a bookcase, to Annes fathers office. It was called the Secret Annex.
When Anne arrived, she looked around in astonishment, there were boxes and piles everywhere. It was a huge mess. The whole day they unpacked boxes, filled cupboards, hammered and tidied, until they were extremely tired.
The Franks did not want to be discovered by people in the office below, so during the daytime they had to walk and talk quietly.
For safety reasons no one in the Secret Annex was allowed to use a toilet or faucet during office hours, nine oclock in the morning to seven oclock in the evening. During those long slow hours Anne spent most of her time reading books that her fathers friends brought her.
The Van Pels family later joined the Franks. Mr. and Mrs. Van Pels had a fifteen-year-old son and a cat named Mouschi.
When Anne grew up it she wanted to be a writer. In 1942 she started writing a book called "Stories and Events from the Secret Annex." Years later many people said that the one thing you would notice about Annes stories is that they are very neat. She wrote in 'page after page of fine script, hardly ever crossing out or making a mistake.'
On August 4th 1944, between ten oclock and ten thirty in the morning, the German police came into the Secret Annex. Someone had betrayed Anne and her family. Five minutes before, Otto Frank had seen five men come into the building. From their clothing he could tell one of them was a German policeman, and the rest were Dutch Nazis. They were going to be arrested.
The eight prisoners were allowed to take a few clothes. They were taken in a truck to a German police station. Two of the four people that helped hide the people in the Secret Annex were arrested, they were Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, the other two, Miep Gies and Bep Voshuijl, were very worried that they would be arrested, too.
Miep Gies and Bep Voshuijl went up to the Secret Annex to save some of the Franks belongings. They took Annes diary and all the family pictures and photo albums, and locked them up in Mieps desk.
The person who betrayed the people in the Secret Annex still is unknown today.
The people from the Secret Annex spent four days in a holding cell. Then they were transferred to the Westerbork concentration camp. They stayed there for a whole month in the so-called "punishment barracks." They were considered, by the Nazis as "punishable prisoners" because they had not given themselves up when the call-up notices were sent out, but had been captured in hiding.
On September 3rd, 1944 they were sent to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. More than half the 70 people that they were traveling with were killed in gas chambers the day after they arrived, including most the people under 15. Since Anne had just had her fifteenth birthday she was spared. Anne and Margot had to leave their mother at the end of October 1944. They were then transferred to Bergen-Belsen, another concentration camp. There the conditions were bad, also. It was icy cold, there was barely enough to eat, it was over crowded, and diseases spread easily.
Annes fathers camp was freed and he made his way back to New Amsterdam. He got there on June 3rd, 1945. He then met up with Miep Gies and her husband. He heard that his wife had died on January 6, 1945, but hoped that Anne and Margot were still alive.
Almost two months later he received notice that both of his daughters had died. Both Anne and Margot got sick with typhus. Margot fell out of her bed and died instantly. Anne sensed her sister's and died of loss of hope.
As you know Miep Gies rescued the diary from the Secret Annex. After that Miep gave it to Annes father. He read the diary and found that she had recorded everything so accurately. He decided to look for a publisher. After trying very hard he could not find one. No one wanted to publish it so soon.
He found a publisher after about seven months later, though. In the summer of 1947 1,500 copies of Annes diary were made. Otto Frank had fufilled Anne's dream of being a writer. The diary has become world famous and in fifty years has published in 55 languages, more than 20 million copies sold, and plays and films have been produced based on the diary.
Anne Frank was the girl who wrote:
Its an odd idea for me to keep a diary because it seems to me that I -nor for that matter anyone else-will be interested in the secrets of a thirteen-year-old school girl.
Little did she know that she was very wrong. Anne Frank became a symbol for the six million Jewish men, women, and children that died in World War I. It is nearly impossible to think about the huge quantity of people that died, but the story of Anne Frank makes it possible to understand what the war was like for a Jew during the Holocaust.
©Rachel Jones, 1999