Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt in June 1929. At age 1934, she moved to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, with her family. The Nazi party had just taken power in Germany, and Anne and her family were Jewish. They were among the 300,000 who left Nazi Germany in the years between 1933 and 1939. She was a good student, had many friends, and led a relatively normal life, until Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940.
The occupying Germans began to persecute Jewish people immediately. They passed laws which segregated Jewish communities from the rest of the population, right down to the schools. Her father tried to get the family to the United States, where he figured they would be safe from persecution, but in 1941 the United States closed its doors on refugees, and they were forced to stay in the Netherlands.
Anne's father, who ran two companies, had to cede his ownership of them to others, as businesses run by Jews were being confiscated by the Nazis. In 1942, Anne Frank received a diary as a gift for her birthday.
In response to increased persecution of Jews by the Germans, and communications summoning them to go to a work camp, the Franks went into hiding. They ransacked their own apartment to make it look like they had fled, and Anne's father spread the notion that they were running to Switzerland. Instead, Anne, her father, her mother, and her sister Margot, moved to a secret set of rooms in the building which housed Anne's father's offices.
Only four employees, those most loyal to them, knew that they were there. The door to the rooms was concealed by a bookcase. The four employees would tell the Franks about what was going on in the world, and give them food so they didn't starve. As time went on, the Franks were joined by the Pels family.
The Franks and the Pels would spend two years hidden in these rooms, and Anne noted everything that happened carefully in her diary. She wrote about the romance she formed with the son of the Pels family, about how she got along with her parents, and about her hopes and dreams to one day become a journalist.
She wrote almost every single day until the first of August, 1944. Three days later, German police stormed the secret room and arrested everyone in it. To this day, it is not known how the Franks were found, but it's possible someone had betrayed them. The Franks were taken to a transit camp for a month, then transported to Auschwitz. Once there, Anne was separated from her father. She had her head shaved and a number tattooed onto her arm, and lived in horrific conditions with little to eat.
A month later, Anne and Margot were transported to Bergen-Belsen, where they ultimately died, most likely of typhus. Anne was 15 years old at the time. Her mother later died of starvation. Her father was the only one to survive until the end of the war. He eventually received her diary from a friend who had kept it after their arrest, and decided to publish it.
When she first started writing, Anne had no idea her private, personal words would be read by the whole world. Her diary shows the mind of a normal young girl who has to deal with the horrible realities of fascism firsthand, and is ultimately destroyed by it. That's why her words are so important today.
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