Jennifer Horner Prof. Barman n 10/29/00 The Franks were an old German- Jewish family. Anne, the youngest daughter, was born on June 12, 1929, in the town of Frankfurt-on-Main in Germany. Anne Frank records her feelings, emotions, and thoughts, as well as the events that happened while forced into hiding, in her diary.
Four years later, in the summer of 1933, the Frank family moved to Holland because Hitler had come into power in Germany and had introduced strict laws which discriminated against Jews. In addition, gangs of Nazi thugs would roam the streets, beating up Jews for no reason except that they were Jews. Realizing how dangerous the political situation was becoming, Mr. Frank prepared a refuge where his family could go into hiding.
Preferring this rather than submitting to arrest by the Nazis and being dispatched to concentration camps and to almost certain death. At the beginning of July, 1942, when it would have been foolish to delay not going into hiding, the Franks, along with a family called the Van Dans moved into the Secret Annexe. In the building where Mr. Franks offices and warehouse were situated, they simply vanished from sight, overnight. When the Nazis occupied Holland in 1940, Anne was only eleven years old. Like many parents, Mr.
and Mrs. Frank tried to protect their children from the edicts issued by the Nazis. Although the girls knew that they had to change schools and wear the yellow star on their clothes, they did not have any direct contact with Nazis. In general, the Dutch people were sympathetic to the plight of the Jews, and many helped them with a kind word or little gifts. The grisly, wholesale murder of Jews in concentration camps did not really get underway until 1942, therefore in 1940 no one could imagine that the annihilation of an entire people was possible. By the time Anne and the others went into hiding in June 1942, they knew that Jews were being round up, beaten, stripped of their possessions, and sent east.
They suspected that the conditions out there were not good, but Nazi propaganda insisted that the resettlement was to the Jews benefit, and there was no clear information to be obtained as to what really went on. In her diary Anne writes, Our many Jewish friends are being taken away by the dozen. These people are treated by the Gestapo without a shred of decency, loaded into cattle trucks and sent to Westerbork Most of people in the camp are branded as inmates by their shaven heads If it is as bad as this in Holland, whatever will it be like in the distant and barbarous regions they are sent to We assume that most of them are murdered. The English radio speaks of their being gassed.
(October 9, 1942) From this and other remarks in which, Anne writes we know that she and the other members of the group in hiding knew what was happening to the Jews on the outside, to a greater or lesser extent. Also there was a radio in the office, and they would creep downstairs at night and listen to the BBC broadcasts, giving them a fairly good idea of what was going on. The windows of the Secret Annexe allowed its inmates to see something of what was happening in the streets outside. On December 13, 1942, Anne writes, I saw two Jews through the curtain yesterday; it was a horrible feeling, just as if Id betrayed them and was now watching them in their misery. The members of the group of protectors those that helped the Franks, also brought eyewitness accounts of what was happening to Jews outside. Every sudden, unexplained noise, every real or imagined break-in by burglars, and every stranger who visited the office and the warehouse was a continues source of fear and concern for the people in the Secret Annexe.
There were several occasions when they sat up all night, afraid to make a sound, fearing that they had heard someone moving around downstairs. The Allies air raids on Amsterdam, the anti-air cannon fired by the Nazis and the aerial dogfights between Nazi and allied aircraft in the sky also constituted a source of alarm for the group in hiding. The building was old and could easily catch fire. For this reason, they had each prepared a small bag of basic necessities to grab in case they had to leave the building in a hurry. Of course, their greatest danger, as it involved their worst fear of all, was discovery by the Nazis. We had a short circuit last evening, and on top of that the guns kept banging away all the time.
I still havent got over my fear of everything connected with shooting and planes, and I creep into Daddys bed nearly every night for comfort. That is how Annes entry for March 10, 1943, begins. This kind of remark recurs at intervals through the diary, but it would seem that eventually the inmates of the Secret Annexe did become accustomed to the situation. After all, two years in hiding, they knew that the Allies were advancing and the situation of the Nazis was deteriorating. By the time the diary ends, Anne had every reason to be optimistic, and she was even thinking about going back to school. The occupants of the Secret Annexe no longer seriously thought that they would be discovered.
Although they were frightened in the beginning, they had become used to their situation and hoped to continue in that way until the war ended. However on August 4, 1944, the Gestapo apparently acting on information provided by an informer, arrived at the building where the Franks were hiding, entered the office and began to search the building. Behind the bookcase at the end of the corridor, the Nazis pulled it away, and thus revealing the secret door to the Franks hiding place was exposed. No one acted hysterically or violently when they realized what had happened. In numbered silence they simply put together a few basic possessions, which they thought they might need and left with their captors. The news from various war fronts was very good, and it was obvious that the Nazis would be defeated.
If the discovery had only come a little later, if the group had not been included in the last shipment of people to leave Westerbork, if Anne had not been sent to Auschwitz first, then onto Belsen, she might have survived.