Influ­en­tial Women: Anne Frank

Peg­gy J. Parks
  • Review
By – March 24, 2017

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.

Marge Kaplan is a retired Eng­lish as a Sec­ond Lan­guage teacher. She is a con­sul­tant for the children’s lit­er­a­ture group for the Roseville, MN school sys­tem and is a sto­ry­teller of Jew­ish tales.

Discussion Questions