Skip Navigation

Anne Frank in the World, 1929 - 1945 Teacher Workbook

Anne Frank Biography (1929-1945)

Annelies Frank was born June 12th, 1929 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Her parents Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Hollander called their daughter Anne. She and her older sister Margot frequently spent their summer in Aachen, Germany, with their grandmother. In 1933, in response to Hitler's anti-Jewish decrees, Mr. Frank opened a branch of his company, Opteka, in Amsterdam and began planning to bring his family there.

The Frank family finally moved into a house on Medwedplein in southern Amsterdam in 1933 and Anne began to attend the nearby Montessori school, where she excelled. Anne made many friends and was an exceptional student. Seven years later, however, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and in five days, Holland capitulated to the invading German forces. Anne's father had already begun to convert the annex of his company at Prinsengracht 263 into a hiding place. Under Nazi law, Anne was forced to leave the Montessori school and attend the Jewish Secondary School.

On her 13th birthday, in 1942, Anne received as a gift from her parents, a diary. She immediately took to writing her intimate thoughts and musings. A few short weeks later, however, Margot received a notice from the Nazi SS to report for work detail at a labor camp. On July 5th, 1942, Anne and the Frank family moved to the "Secret Annex" adjacent to Mr. Frank's former office on Prinsengracht. Anne's famous diary captured two years of hiding in the attic above the store, but it ended on August 4, 1944, when their hiding place was betrayed by a Dutch collaborator.

Anne's precious diary was among the many personal effects left behind by the family. Anne, and the seven others who shared the cramped Secret Annex with her, were all deported to Westerbork camp. A few weeks later as the Allies began retaking Holland, the inhabitants of the camp were moved to Auschwitz and later to other camps. Anne ultimately ended up in Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany, after being evacuated from Auschwitz in October, 1944. As starvation, cold, and disease swept through the camp's population, Margot, Anne's sister, developed typhus and died. A few days later, Anne herself, in April, 1945, succumbed to the disease a few weeks before the camp was liberated by the British. She was 15 years old.

  1. Many diaries were written by Jewish children during the Holocaust. Why is Anne Frank's diary so understandable and meaningful to people of all ages throughout the world?
  2. If Otto Frank understood the Nazis, why did he not emigrate to a non-European country when there was time?

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl -- A Summary
Otto Frank, Anne's father, was the only annex inhabitant who survived the war. When he returned to Amsterdam after the war, he was given Anne's notebooks and papers that the Gestapo left scattered on the floor of the Secret Annex. Among these papers was her diary.

The first entry in Anne's diary is dated June 14, 1942, two days after her thirteenth birthday and three weeks before she and her family were to go into hiding. She wanted to confide completely in her diary, which she addressed as Kitty, she writes, because neither her friends nor her family seems sufficiently interested in understanding her deepest thoughts. The early entries show that Anne is a fairly typical, although exceptionally sensitive, young teenager.

After Anne and her parents go into hiding, the diary records her perceptions of the confined life that she and the others lead. As might be expected, Anne was often miserable, but there were times when she experienced happiness and joy in the midst of her hardship and suffering.

Living in such close proximity, the residents of the Secret Annex frequently get on each other's nerves. Anne was often furious with Mr. Van Daan, who, in her opinion, was superficial and petty. The pedantic Mr. Dussel sometimes drove her to distraction. Although petty quarrels were commonplace among the residents, the remarkable fact that emerged from Anne's diary is not that conflict arises, but that eight individuals can endure constant fear and total confinement, with grace and dignity.

Perhaps the most appealing quality of Anne Frank's diary is its sensitive expression of a young girl's dreams and her struggle to grow into a woman.

Discerning about the circumstances of wartime Holland, Anne also looks inward to discover herself. The entries reflect her intense desire for self understanding. Also revealed is her need to be loved and respected as a unique individual. She dreamed of becoming a writer so that she would be remembered after her death. Shortly before she and the others were arrested by the Gestapo, Anne experienced the first flush of love with Peter Van Daan, a shy boy also reaching out for love and understanding. The tragedy of Anne Frank is that she died before her l6th birthday, her dreams unfulfilled.

  1. How does Anne's feeling toward her fellow Jews and others subjected to terror by the Nazis show itself in the Diary?
  2. Based on your reading of the Diary, if Anne Frank were living in Tennessee today, what kind of person would you expect her to be?