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This Day in History - Anne Frank's Last Diary Entry

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Annelies (Anne) Marie Frank arrived on June 12th, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. The Franks were liberal Jews, Anne's mother Edith being more devout than her husband, Otto. The neighborhood she grew up in contained Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish neighbors.

Otto Frank was a decorated German Officer in WWI, and extremely interested in pursuing scholastics. He encouraged both Anne and her older sister Margot to learn to read.

When Anne was four years old, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party won the election to the municipal council. Shortly after, antisemitic demonstrations became common throughout Germany. Fearing for the future, Otto sent his wife and the two girls to stay with Edith's mother in Aachen. He remained in Frankfurt until he received an offer to start a business in Amsterdam. After starting up Opekta Works, a pectin company, and securing an apartment, his wife and children followed him.

In 1934, the girls were enrolled in school. Margot showed arithmetic ability and Anne excelled in reading and writing. They continued attending school while their father started a second company, specializing in herbs and pickling salts used to make sausages. Both companies were prosperous, and the family lived well.

In 1940, Germany invaded Amsterdam, and Jews became targets, with restrictions and discriminatory laws. Segregation and mandatory registration followed. Both girls were made to enroll in a Jewish school. Otto Frank transferred his shares of Pectacon to Johannes Kleiman and did the same with Opekta in an effort to prevent the Jewish-owned business from being confiscated. He continued to earn a low income, enough to provide food and shelter for the family.

Anne turned 13 in 1942 and received an autograph book she had admired. She immediately turned the book into her diary, and began writing about her life, the restrictions now in place, and the death of her grandmother earlier that year. Otto Frank began making plans to hide the family as it seemed more and more likely that they would be sent to work camps. He made arrangements with his loyal employees to hide in the back of the company building, should it become necessary.

Her sister Margot received a notice to report to a work camp in July, 1942, and the family immediately began to prepare for hiding. Weeks before they had planned to go, they dressed in as many layers of clothing as fit, afraid to be seen carrying luggage and walked to the building that would be their home for the next two years.

The Achterhuis, rear of the house, or Secret Annexe, was made up of two small rooms and a bathroom on the first floor, one large and one small room on the second, and the attic. The door to the hiding place was concealed by a bookshelf, and the employees brought food, along with news and updates, daily.

Anne had brought along her diary, and wrote about everything that was taking place during these years of confinement. Soon, the van Pels family moved in, along with Fritz Pfeffer, a friend of the family.

Anne wrote everything down. Her personal feelings, the tensions between people and her first romance with Peter van Pels. She wrote about her relationship with her parents and her sister, maturing and changing during this time.

The girls continued to study, and Anne soon aspired to become a journalist.

"My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?"

- Anne Frank

Though she was initially ferocious about her privacy, and determined that no one would ever read it, she soon decided to submit her work, when the time came. Looking towards publishing, she began editing her journal, removing passages and rewriting others. She gave aliases to all who lived in secret, including the employees who helped. In her second draft, she addressed her entries to Kitty, a fictional character in a novel she enjoyed.

Her last journal entry, dated August 1st, 1944 ended:

"Believe me, I'd like to listen, but it doesn't work, because if I'm quiet and serious, everyone thinks I'm putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I'm not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be ill, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can't keep it up any more, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I'd like to be and what I could be if... if only there were no other people in the world.

Yours, Anne M. Frank"

Three days later, Anne, her family, the van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer were arrested when the German Security Police followed an anonymous tip to the location.

They were interrogated, labeled criminals, and sentenced to hard labor. September 3rd, they were shipped on the last train to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Otto Frank became separated from his family, and the only one who lived through the experience. Edith Frank died of starvation at Auschwitz. Margot and Anne were transferred to Bergen-Belson, where first Margot, then Anne died from a typhus epidemic in 1945.

When the war ended, Otto Frank fulfilled Anne's desire to be a writer, and had her journal published. She became one of the most well known voices of the Holocaust.

As Primo Levi said, "One single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did but whose faces have remained in the shadows. Perhaps it is better that way; if we were capable of taking in all the suffering of all those people, we would not be able to live."

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