12 June 1583

Elizabethan privy councillor and chancellor of the exchequer Sir Walter Mildmay purchased the site of a dissolved Dominican priory in Cambridge for £550. The following year he established Emmanuel College there.


12 June 1641

The Treaty of the Hague established a ten-year truce between the Dutch Republic and the kingdom of Portugal.

12 June 1840

A 720-gram meteorite fell near Uden in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant, narrowly missing a group of labourers who were digging for peat in a nearby field.

12 June 1942: Anne Frank is given a diary by her parents

A birthday present becomes the world’s most famous voice from the Holocaust

The date was 12 June 1942, and in Amsterdam, a 13-year-old girl awoke with a thrill of excitement. It was Anne Frank’s birthday and she could barely contain her anticipation. For almost an hour, though, she forced herself to stay in bed, knowing that her parents would be cross if she got up too early. “A little after seven,” she wrote two days later, “I went to daddy and mummy and then to the living room to open my presents.”

There, on the table, were Anne’s gifts: a blouse, a game, a bottle of grape juice, a puzzle, a jar of cold cream, some money, a gift token for some books, and lots of sweets and cakes. With Amsterdam under Nazi occupation, times were hard, but her parents had done their best. And there was another present too. “You were the first thing I saw, maybe one of my nicest presents,” Anne wrote in her new diary.

Anne had seen the red-and-white autograph book in a shop a few days earlier and had pointed it out to her father. Like so many teenagers, she loved the thought of having a diary. “I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone,” she wrote in her very first entry, “and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”

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So it proved. A month later, Anne’s family, who were Jewish, went into hiding. She kept up her diary until August 1944, when the family were arrested by the Nazis and sent to the camps. The following spring, she died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen. | Written by Dominic Sandbrook

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