Happy Birthday, Anne Frank!

History of Anne Frank

Happy Birthday, Anne Frank! Anne was born June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main in Germany. Her parents, Otto and Edith, concerned about growing antisemitism in Europe, moved the family to Amsterdam. After the threat of what would become WWII (1939-1945) increased, the family attempted to leave Amsterdam to go to England or the U.S. but failed.

Adolf Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The Netherlands were invaded on May 10, 1940, and anti-Jewish regulations were put into effect. On July 5, 1942, Anne's older sister Margot was to report to a German work camp. The Frank family went into hiding the next day assisted by Otto's business partner Herman van Pels and their associates Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler.

For two years, the Franks, van Pels family, and dentist Fritz Pfeffer remained in hiding until August 4, 1944. Despite numerous investigations, no one is quite sure how their secret hiding place, an annex, was discovered. After their discovery, Margot and Anne were both sent to the Bergen-Belson concentration camp, opens a new window. Both Margot and Anne died in the camp in 1945. Otto was the only survivor.

Miep Gies, a woman who helped hide the Franks, hid Anne's diary and papers that were left behind in the secret annex and gave the diaries and papers to Otto after the war ended. Otto published the diary in 1947 in a print run of 3,000. More editions and translations followed, as did a play and a film.

In 1960, the house became the Ann Frank House Museum, opens a new window, which is open for tours. In the years that followed the book's publication, scholars wondered which parts of the diary Otto edited out, opens a new window, especially as Anne had begun to rewrite her diary in hopes to publish it as a novel after the war. Some debates have also raged over the diary's authenticity, opens a new window. In 2019, two previously unknown pages, opens a new window of her diary were discovered which show a more candid side of her personality.

Sadly, the chestnut tree that Anne wrote of in her diary ("Our chestnut tree is in full bloom. It's covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.") fell in 2010. Dozens of saplings from the tree have been sent around the world to preserve the tree's legacy. 11 are here in the U.S, opens a new window


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