Presenting young people with a good overview of Anne Frank’s era, this book starts with her parents’ backgrounds dating from before they married and ends with the publication of Anne’s diary.
As Anne’s family was wealthy and influential, it was hard to for them to accept that their position and safety were threated when Hitler became the Chancellor. The restrictions placed on the Jews which included boycotts and the wearing of the Jewish star were only the beginning. Hoping that moving to the Netherlands would provide them physical safety and business opportunities, the family left Germany. However, their respite from persecution was short lived. In 1940, after Hitler invaded Holland, the family went into hiding. In this hidden annex in the back of Otto Frank’s business, Anne wrote her diary. After their hiding place was discovered and they were shipped off to Westerbork, a detention center, they were classified as “criminal Jews”. This category was designated for those who had been hiding “to escape deportation”. They were given the dirtiest and most unhealthy jobs, which for the women in the Frank family meant cleaning and breaking batteries apart. Subsequently, Edith, their mother, and the girls were shipped to Auschwitz-Birkenau, a death camp, where due to the unsanitary conditions and bug infestations, they contracted scabies. It was here that Edith was separated from the girls and, in a short time, died. Margot, Anne’s sister, and she were transferred to Bergen-Belsen where the girls, “weak from exhaustion and starvation” died from typhus. Otto Frank was the only one who survived the camps, but was hopeful that his daughters were alive.
In 1945, he got confirmation that his daughters were dead. At this time he was living with Miep Gies, one of his former employees who had played a key role in their survival while the Franks were in hiding. She was the one who had discovered and saved the pages from Anne’s diary and subsequently gave them to Otto.
The remainder of the book deals with how difficult it was to get Anne’s diary published as it was a grim reminder of things that had happened that many did not want to relive.
This book presents a historically accurate picture and will be of value to young people learning about the Holocaust, making it easier for them to understand complex events by following the painful history of one family.
This is part of a publisher’s series featuring women of note. Recommended for ages 11 and up.