This part of the exhibition tells the story of Anne, her family and friends. It also addresses their persecution and the time they spent in hiding. Each of the six sections addresses one stage of her life.
Anne's Childhood in Germany, 1929-1933
Annelies Marie Frank is born in Frankfurt am Main on 12 June 1929. Her family calls her “Anne.” She lives with her father, Otto, her mother, Edith, and her older sister, Margot, in a beautiful house with a garden. She often plays with the children in the neighbourhood. In 1933, an antisemitic party comes into power. Its members are called Nazis. The new mayor of Frankfurt is also a Nazi. Otto and Edith feel threatened. They decide to leave their country. Anne is four years old when her family embarks on a new life in the Netherlands.
“As many of my compatriots turned into hordes of nationalist, cruel, antisemitic criminals, I had to accept the consequences, and although it hurt me deeply, I realized that Germany was not the world and left the country forever.” Otto in a letter to Cara Wilson, 19 June 1968
Anne's New Home in the Netherlands, 1933-1940
Anne’s mother, Edith, finds a new flat for the family in Amsterdam. Anne and her sister, Margot, go to school. They learn Dutch quickly. Their father, Otto, works hard in his new company. He manages a branch of the German marmalade manufacturer, Opekta. The family wants to emigrate to England or the United States. This is not possible. The German soldiers invade Poland on 1 September 1939. The Second World War begins. Edith and Otto wonder: Will the Nazis attack the Netherlands, too?
“I think that all the German Jews are searching the world today and they can’t find a way in anymore.” Edith Frank in a letter to her friend Hedda Eisenstaedt on 24 December 1937
Anne's Life in Danger, 1940-1942
On 10 May 1940, Anne’s parents’ greatest fear comes true: The German soldiers occupy the Netherlands. The Nazis enact anti-Jewish laws there, too. In January 1941, all Jews have to register their address with the Nazis. The Nazis forbid Jewish children from attending public schools. After the summer holidays, Anne and her sister, Margot, have to leave their schools. On 12 June 1942, her 13th birthday, Anne gets her first diary as a present. Margot receives a notice from the Nazis a short time later. Margot has to report for forced labour in Germany. Her parents fear for her life. They have a plan to rescue Margot and the family.
“Hiding! Where would we hide? In the city? In the country? In a house? In a shack? When? Where? How? These were the questions that I wasn’t allowed to ask but they kept running through my mind.” Anne’s diary, 8 July 1942
Anne's Time in Hiding, 1942-1944
The Frank family goes into hiding on 6 July 1942. Anne’s parents have set up a flat in the annex of Otto’s company. His closest employees are ready to help. The van Pels family also moves into the annex. The families take in another persecuted person in November: Fritz Pfeffer. These eight people live together in a confined space for more than two years. They are poorly nourished and afraid of being discovered and deported by the Nazis.
“Father, Mother and Margot still can't get used to the chiming of the Westertoren clock, which tells us the time every quarter of an hour. Not me, I liked it from the start; it sounds so reassuring, especially at night.” Anne’s diary, 11 July 1942
Anne's Last 6 months, 1944-1945
The eight people hiding in the annex are discovered on 4 August 1944. It is possible that someone has betrayed them. Armed Nazis enter the hiding place. They arrest and deport the eight people and two of their helpers. The helpers Miep and Bep are lucky. They are spared. They find Anne’s diary. Miep keeps it safe. On 3 September 1944, the Nazis lock the eight prisoners in cattle wagons. The train journey takes three days and three nights. The train stops during the night in the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Nazis separate the deported men from the deported women. Initially Anne and her sister, Margot, are able to stay with their mother, Edith. In late October, the Nazis deport the sisters again. They are taken by train to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. They also suffer here from the terrible conditions. In the winter they fall ill with typhus. Anne dies soon after Margot in February 1945.
“The Frank girls were so emaciated. They looked terrible. […] Typhus was the hallmark of Bergen-Belsen. They had those hollowed-out faces, they had become skinny to the bone. They froze in the terrible cold because they had the worst place in the barracks, at the end beside the door, which was constantly being opened and closed. You could hear them screaming all the time: ‘Close the door, close the door’ and these cries would get weaker every day…” Rachel van Amerongen-Frankfoorder in an interview with Willy Lindwer
Anne's Diary and Otto's return, 1945-1947
The Red Army liberates Auschwitz on 27 January 1945. Anne’s father, Otto, is still alive. He knows nothing of the fate of his family. His return to the Netherlands takes several months. He travels with other survivors. Otto does everything he can to find his daughters. In July he learns that Anne and Margot have not survived. Miep gives him Anne’s diary. In it, Otto reads: Anne wanted to publish her notes. He fulfils her wish: In 1947 Anne’s diary is published under the title: »Het Achterhuis« (The Secret Annex).
“Even today there are still a lot of things I cannot talk about. There are a lot of things that I don’t want to talk about anymore either. For example, what I felt as we were driven out of our hiding place in Amsterdam, or when my family was torn apart on the ramp in Auschwitz.” Otto Frank, 4 February 1979