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When Adolf Hitler seized power in 1933, the Frank family moved to The Netherlands due to the threatening political climate in Germany. Anne Frank herself followed just a bit later, in 1934, and lived with her family at the formal ?Merwedeplein (Merwede-square) in Amsterdam. She and her family led a peaceful life there, thinking that neutral ?Holland? would provide a safe place for them. Anne went to school, had her friends and lived the life of a normal young girl.
In 1940, when, at the rising of the Nazi-German power, The Netherlands was eventually also invaded and occupied, the threat of the Jewish persecution took on larger proportions. The Jewish community was placed under numerous restrictions. For example: many public areas were no longer permitted for them to enter, they had to wear a yellow ?Star of David? with the word ?Jew? in the middle, prominently on their clothing. In the end, Jewish people were no longer allowed outside on the streets between the hours of 20:00 and 06:00. Besides the horrible treatments, the Jewish people were also called to report for work in German labour-camps. However, word had already returned that these so-called labour-camps held the horrible secrets of massive human destruction. Major fear hit the Jewish people and the Frank family, like many others, decided they had to go into hiding immediately. The dangers had become too great!
On July 16th of 1942, the family was supposed to go into hiding in a Secret Annex in the back of the building that also held the office of father Otto Frank?s company Opekta along the Prinsengracht (Prince-canal) in Amsterdam. Many preparations had already been taken in the weeks before, supplying the space with furniture, food, clothes and other basic needs. The entrance to the Annex was hidden by a moving bookcase, and sooner then planned, the family moved in. Together with the Van Pels family, and later on a dentist called Fritz Pfeffer, they lived there, hidden in great fear of discovery, for over 2 years.
Miep Gies, an employee of Otto?s company, along with 3 others, Johannes, Victor and Bep, were the helpers that provided food and other basic needs during the period of hiding. Anne, who had already taken much interest in writing, now really turned towards her journal, which she had gotten for her 13th birthday. It was the first thing she packed when the family had to go into hiding. With all this time and nothing to do for years, she wrote, and rewrote, many pages of the journal as well as lots of loose sheets of paper. The diary had become her new best friend, whom she called ?Kitty?
On the 4th of August, 1944, after more then 2 years, what everyone had greatly feared turned into reality; the Secret Annex had been betrayed. The ?Grüne Polizei? invaded the Annex and arrested everyone. After a short stay at the Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam, the family was ?put on transport? (as the Nazi?s called it), leaving on a train from the Amsterdam Central station to camp Westerbork. Once there, the families were put into ?punishment-barracks? due to the fact that they had never voluntarily reported for labour-camps and had been arrested instead. Their heads were shaved, they had to work much harder and were given less food then other prisoners. In September of 1944 the families were selected for transportation to destruction-camp Auschwitz-Birkenau II. It turned out to be the last train that ever left from Westerbork to Auschwitz.
In Auschwitz the families were torn apart, separating the men from the women and sending them to camp-1. Father Otto Frank would never see his wife and children again.
As the Russian army proceeded to come nearer and nearer, the Nazi?s tried to transport as many prisoners as possible back to Germany. Anne, and here sister Margot, were then selected to be transported to camp Bergen-Belsen. Their mother was forced by the Nazi?s to stay behind and died in January of 1945, exhausted and sick.
Horrible months passed in Bergen-Belsen, with storms leaving only dilapidated tents to live in, snow and ice cold temperatures of winter with not much food being available at all. Anne and Margot inevitably became very sick and exhausted. Margot could not withstand any longer and died in the beginning of March, 1945. Anne followed only one day later. Camp Bergen-Belsen would be set free no later than a few weeks after?
Otto Frank, who was left behind in camp Auschwitz 1, survived the war as the Russians freed the camp. A long journey back home followed during which he learned that his wife had not survived the war. When he returned to Amsterdam, and learned that Anne and Margot also did not survive, Miep gave him the diary and sheets of paper that Anne had written. She had been able to save and hide them right after the invasion of the Secret Annex. The diary, and written sheets of Anne, would later be published into the, now world famous, Diary ofAnne Frank.
Anne was no longer alive, but her stories still kept her very much present in this world. The Secret Annex in Amsterdam has been opened to the public in 1960 and draws close to a million visitors each year. The house, now known as the ?Anne Frank House? portrays the very impressive story of Anne and her family, but now also offers great inspiration for humanity to fight discrimination in all shapes and forms!
Anne Frank, 1929 – 1945