In 1933 Mr and Mrs Frank left Germany with their two daughters, Margot, aged 7, and Anne, aged 4. They were Jews, and life under the Hitler regime appeared precarious. They settled in Amsterdam. All went well until the Germans invaded Holland and subjected its Jews to the frustrating disabilities prevalent in Germany. They wore the yellow star to mark them as sub-human, their bicycles were forfeited, they were subjected to curfew and restricted shopping hours and forbidden to attend places of public entertainment or engage in sporting events. But – as Anne was to record later – “things were still bearable.”
They ceased to be so in July, 1942. The “call-up” of Jews for deportation to German concentration camps had begun. In anticipation of this Mr Frank had for some time been preparing and stocking a hiding place with the assistance of his Dutch business associates. On July 9, 1942, the Frank family moved in. They were joined by Mr and Mrs Van Daan and their 16-year-old son, Peter, and later by a Jewish dentist called Dussel. There they remained until August, 1944, when the Germans raided their premises and carried them off to Germany.
Of the eight inhabitants of the “secret annexe” only Mr Frank survived incarceration in a German concentration camp. Anne, the youngest, died in Belsen two months before its surviving victims were liberated. It is to Anne that we owe a detailed account of day-to-day life in the “secret annexe” up to the eve of its discovery by the Germans. For Anne kept a diary; and that diary was found by Dutch friends among the debris kicked aside by the raiders.