9 things you might not know about Anne Frank

Here we round up nine important facts about Anne Frank, who in 1944 at the age of 14 was captured by the Nazis along with her family. Her famous diary was published by her father, Otto Frank, in 1947...

  • Anne and her family went into hiding in Amsterdam [in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands] on 6 July 1942, the day after Anne’s elder sister, Margot, received a call-up for a German work camp. Anne’s parents, Otto and Edith, had already planned to go into hiding with their daughters on 16 July, and had been arranging a secret hiding place. They went into hiding earlier than planned following Margot’s call-up, seeking refuge in the house behind Otto’s office on Prinsengracht 263.
  • Four other Jews lived in the secret annex alongside the Frank family: Hermann and Auguste van Pels with their son Peter, and, for a time, Fritz Pfeffer, a German dentist. Anne’s diary describes in great detail the tension between the eight individuals, who had to stay indoors at all times and remain quiet so as not to arouse the suspicion of staff working in the warehouse downstairs. The entrance to the annex was concealed behind a moveable bookcase.
  • Anne’s famous diary was written in an autograph book bound with white and red checked cloth, and closed with a small lock. It was given to her on her 13th birthday by her parents. Anne’s first entries describe how her family were segregated and discriminated against. Anne addressed many of her entries to an imaginary girl friend, ‘Dear Kitty’ or ‘Dearest Kitty’. Anne hoped her diary would be published as a novel after the war.
  • With no friends to confide in, Anne used the diary to express her fear, bordedom, and the struggles she faced growing up. On 16 March 1944, she wrote: “The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings, otherwise I’d absolutely suffocate.” In addition to her diary, Anne wrote short stories and collated her favourite sentences by other writers in a notebook.
  • By 1944, Anne was convinced she wanted to pursue her passion for writing. She dreamt of becoming a journalist, and then a famous writer. On 28 March, Gerrit Bolkestein, education minister of the Dutch Government in exile, made a broadcast on Radio Orange, calling on people to save their diaries. Consequently, Anne, started to rework her diary and called it The Secret Annex.
  • On 4 August 1944, everyone in the annex was arrested. Somebody had called the German Security Police to notify them that Jews were in hiding at Prinsengracht 263. The identity of the caller has never been establised. Otto’s secretary, Miep Gies, who had helped the Franks go into hiding and visited them frequently, retrieved Anne’s diary from the annex, hoping to one day to return it to her.
  • Everyone in the annex was deported first to the Westerbork transit camp, and then on to Auschwitz. Upon arrival at Auschwitz the men and women were separated. Edith, Margot and Anne stayed together in a barrack, hauling heavy stones and grass mats during the day. At the end of October or the beginning of November 1944, Anne and her sister Margot were transported to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany where almost 4,000 Jews, primarily Dutch, were imprisoned. There, facing unsanitary conditions and having no food, the girls contracted typhus. They both died in March 1945, just a few weeks before the camp was liberated.
  • Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was the only person from the secret annex to survive. He returned to Amsterdam following the liberation of Auschwitz, learning en route of his wife’s death. In July 1945 he met one of the Brilleslijper sisters, who had been at Bergen-Belsen with Anne and Margot. From her, he learned that his daughters were dead.
  • Miep Gies passed on Anne’s diary to Otto Frank in July 1945. Otto later recalled: “I began to read slowly, only a few pages each day, more would have been impossible, as I was overwhelmed by painful memories. For me, it was a revelation. There, was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings.” After initially feeling uncertain about publishing Anne’s diary, he finally decided to fulfill his daughter’s wish. The diary of Anne Frank was published in the Netherlands on 25 June 1947.

Anne Frank: The Nazi Capture airs on the National Geographic channel and the National Geographic HD channel, on Tuesday 10 March at 8pm. To find out more, click here.