On this day in 1944, a German-born Jewish girl and her family, who had been hiding in German-occupied Holland, are found by the Gestapo and transported to various concentration camps. The young girl’s diary of her time in hiding was found after her death and published. The Diary of Anne Frank remains one of the most moving testimonies to the invincibility of the human spirit in the face of inhuman cruelty.
She was born Annelies Marie Frank, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on June 12, 1929. Her father, Otto Frank, a businessman, moved his wife and two daughters to Holland early in the Hitler regime. After the German invasion and occupation of the Netherlands, the Franks were threatened with deportation to a forced-labor camp and so went into hiding. They spend the next two years, from July 9, 1942, until August 4, 1944, in the back of Otto’s food products warehouse, along with four other Jews. Gentile friends and neighbors smuggled in food and other supplies.
Acting on a tip from Dutch informers, the Gestapo (the Nazi secret police), discovered the Franks and arrested them. They then transported them to the Auschwitz concentration camps in Poland in September. Anne and her sister, Margot, were transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany a month later. There Anne died of typhus, in March 1945, not long before the camp was liberated by the Allies.
Otto Frank was found, still alive, in Auschwitz by the Russian troops that liberated the camps there (Anne’s mother had died in January). Friends back in Holland who had searched the Franks’ former hiding place found a stash of personal papers; among the collection was Anne’s diary, which described her emotional and intellectual development during the two years spent eluding detection by the Nazis. Otto had it published in 1947 as The Diary of a Young Girl. It has since been translated into more than 50 languages and adapted for stage and screen. The most memorable line remains: “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.”
The Franks’ hiding place, on the Prinsengracht Canal in Amsterdam, has been turned into a museum.