In memory of all the children who, like Anne, had their life ended in that terrible war — A.A.
Anne Frank’s life was short. She was only fifteen years old when she died in 1945.
She was born in Germany, where her father’s family had lived for a very long time.
They had to go into hiding. They lost everything that was dear to them . . . all because they were Jewish and a man named Adolf Hitler was in power.
Hitler hated Jewish people. All Jewish people. By the time Hitler was defeated, Anne’s mother was dead. So were Anne and her sister. The only person in the family who survived was Anne’s beloved father, Otto.
But something else survived, too.
Anne’s diary. Anne kept a diary for two years. During that time, her family was in hiding.
Anne understood the dangers that her family faced. Yet in her diary she remained hopeful about the world even though terrible things were happening. She drew comfort from the beauty of nature even though she couldn’t step outside for a single breath of fresh air. After her death, her diary was turned into a book.
Today, more than sixty years after Anne’s last diary entry, she remains a symbol of hope. Her diary has been translated into more than sixty-five languages. It has sold more than thirty million copies. There have been plays and movies about her.
A short life—even a very short life—can be full of meaning.
ADOLF HITLER WAS BORN In 1889. HE FIRST HOPED TO BECOME An ARTIST, BUT HE WASN’T TALENTED ENOUGH SO HE TURnED TO POLITICS INSTEAD. HIS DREAM WAS TO MAKE GERMANY THE MOST POWERFUL EMPIRE On EARTH. In GERMAN, FÜHRER IS THE WORD FOR “LEADER,” AND FÜHRER WAS WHAT GERMANS CALLED HITLER.
HITLER RULED OVER GERMANY FROM 1933 UNTIL 1945 WHEN, DURING THE LAST DAYS OF WORLD WAR II, HE KILLED HIMSELF RATHER THAN SURRENDER AND FACE TRIAL.
FROM THE START, HITLER CONVINCED GERMANS THAT JEWS WERE TO BLAME FOR ALL THE COUNTRY’S PROBLEMS. In SPEECHES, HE WORKED GIANT CROWDS INTO A FRENZY BY SCREAMING THAT SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE. HIS ANSWER WAS TO GET RID OF THE JEWS, ALL OF THEM. HE SAW TO IT THAT THIRTEEN MILLION PEOPLE WERE KILLED, SIX MILLION OF THEM JEWS.
HOW CAN A PERSON BE SO EVIL? THOUSANDS OF BOOKS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT HITLER In THE SIXTY YEARS SINCE HIS DEATH. BUT NONE OF THEM HAVE REALLY FOUND An ANSWER.
Chapter 1 - A Happy Home
Anne Frank was born on June 12, 1929, in the city of Frankfurt, Germany.
Anne’s father, Otto, was a businessman. Her mother stayed at home caring for Anne and Anne’s older sister, Margot.
The Franks led a comfortable life. There was a nanny to help Mrs. Frank.
Their apartment in Frankfurt was full of books.
Otto Frank was many years older than his wife. In many ways they were opposites. Otto was tall and thin; Edith was plump. Otto loved being around people. He was high-spirited and outgoing. Edith was shy and quiet.
Otto loved to read to his daughters. He also made up wonderful stories at bedtime. Some were about two sisters named Paula. One of the Paulas was very well behaved and polite, like Margot. The other Paula was always getting into lots of trouble. That Paula was more like Anne, who was full of mischief.
A new leader came to power in 1933: Adolf Hitler. He was head of the National Socialist, or Nazi, party. Hitler made the Germans feel better about themselves. He said German people were smarter and better than any other people on earth. “Pure” Germans, that is. Not Jews. In loud speeches before huge crowds, Hitler blamed Jewish people for all of Germany’s problems.
Anti-Semitism is a word that means “hatred of Jews.” There was anti-Semitism long before Adolf Hitler in many places besides Germany. Throughout the world, at different times in history, Jewish people had to live in special neighborhoods. They couldn’t go to schools with Christians or hold certain kinds of jobs.
But Adolf Hitler went much further.
For a short time, the family lived with one of Anne’s grandmothers in Switzerland. Then, in the fall of 1933, Otto Frank moved to Amsterdam.
In Amsterdam, Otto started a new company. It made pectin. Pectin is a powder used to make jam.
The girls started school.
Still, Otto thought that his family was now safe from Hitler. But he was wrong.
WORLD WAR I
WORLD WAR I, A TERRIBLE WAR THAT LASTED FROM 1914 TO 1918, WAS ALSO CALLED THE “GREAT WAR.” THE CENTRAL POWERS (AUSTRIA-HUNGARY, GERMANY, AND TURKEY) FOUGHT AGAINST THE ALLIES (RUSSIA, BRITAIN, BELGIUM, ITALY, FRANCE, AND, LATER On, THE UNITED STATES).
EVENTUALLY, THE ALLIES WON. GERMANY WAS FORCED TO PAY A LOT OF MONEY AS PUNISHMENT FOR ITS ROLE In THE WAR. THIS LEFT THE COUNTRY VERY POOR AND MANY OF ITS PEOPLE VERY RESENTFUL. A NEW GOVERNMENT WAS SET UP——A DEMOCRACY. BUT IT WASN’T VERY STRONG. In 1933, THE GERMANS LOOKED TO A DANGEROUS LEADER, ADOLF HITLER, TO MAKE THEIR COUNTRY GREAT AGAIN.
WORLD WAR I WAS ALSO CALLED THE WAR TO END ALL WARS. BUT, UNFORTUNATELY, IT DIDN’T. WORLD WAR II BEGAN BARELY TWENTY YEARS LATER.
Chapter 2 - A New Home
Amsterdam is a pretty city. It is crisscrossed with canals. Boats go up and down the canals all hours of the day. Anne was only four years old in 1934 when she moved there. Amsterdam quickly became her home.
Anne was a good student, although she hated math. She was a chatterbox, and often teachers had to scold her to be quiet. In her free time she liked playing Ping-Pong.
Anne was a good swimmer.
In many ways, Anne’s childhood was very much like most kids’. Except every once in a while something scary would happen.
In 1938, her uncle Walter was arrested in Germany just because he was Jewish.
But how safe was the Netherlands? In 1938, Hitler reunited Austria and Germany. Austria was on the southern border of Germany. The people there spoke German, and most were happy to be part of this powerful empire. They cheered Hitler’s soldiers when they marched into the city of Vienna.
The Dutch, however, hated Hitler. Most people couldn’t stand the idea of being under his control.
Otto and Edith Frank had to make a hard decision. Should the family stay in Amsterdam or move again? And if they did move, where would they go? To England? To the United States? To a country in South America?
In the end, the Franks decided not to uproot the family for a second time. They would stay in Amsterdam.