This Day In History: July 6

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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, 13-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, Anne' Frank's father, Otto Frank, approached his Austrian-born bookkeeper, Miep Gies, and asked if she would help hide his family. Otto also asked his employees Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler en Bep Voskuijl to help. They agreed and then risked their own lives to smuggle food, supplies and news of the outside world into the so-called Secret Annex, whose entrance was hidden behind a movable bookcase.

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 concentration 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 the other persons in hiding ended up at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

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.

After the war, Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam following his release from Auschwitz. Upon learning of Anne's death, Miep Gies gave Otto Frank five notebooks and some 300 loose papers containing Anne’s writings. Gies had recovered the materials from the Secret Annex shortly after the Franks’ arrest by the Nazis and had hidden them in her desk. 

Anne’s diary was published in Dutch in 1947 and was published in English in 1952. An instant best-seller and eventually translated into more than 70 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.