Who Is Anne Frank?

J. Beam

Anne Frank is the famous German-Jewish teenage girl who documented her life in hiding from the Nazis during World War II by writing in her diary. Anne Frank’s diary was first published in 1947 as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and remains one of the most-read books in the world. Frank’s documentation of life during the holocaust is a personalized account of the oppression and fascism under Nazi rule as seen by a child.

Anne Frank's family fled Germany when Adolph Hitler came to power.
Anne Frank's family fled Germany when Adolph Hitler came to power.

Annelies Marie Frank was born 12 June 1929 in Weimar, Germany to Otto Frank and Edith Hollander Frank. She had a sister two years her senior named Margot. Though the Franks were reformed Jews, the children lived in a neighborhood that was not exclusively Jewish. Her father served as a German officer during the First World War.

Anne Frank was sent to a Nazi prison camp in 1944.
Anne Frank was sent to a Nazi prison camp in 1944.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party won elections in Frankfurt and immediately spawned Anti-Semitic movements. The Frank family became concerned about the effects of the Nazi party on Germany and moved to Amsterdam, where Otto Frank became a businessman. Frank was leading a normal life for a young girl, attending a Montessori school and developing a passion for writing.

On her thirteenth birthday, she received an autograph book from her father that she had previously shown him in a shop window. She immediately began conveying her private thoughts and observations to the pages of the book, which she used as a diary. By this time, the German occupation government had already begun persecution of the Jews, forcing Jewish children to attend Jewish schools.

A mere month after beginning her diary, Frank and her family were forced into hiding after her sister, Margot, received notice to report to a work camp. They moved only themselves and what clothing they could wear on their backs into two small, but hidden rooms above the building where Otto Frank had worked. With the help of Otto Frank’s closest business partners and friends, the Franks hid themselves away from the growing persecution of the Germans to avoid the concentration camps.

For the entire time in hiding, Anne committed to paper the things she felt, saw, and heard. Her final entry into her diary was 4 August 1944. That day, German troops stormed the Franks' hiding place, taking the Franks and others had come to join them away by force. Some went to jail, while Anne and her sister were sent to work in concentration camps. Anne was sent to Bergen-Belsen in October and died of typhus the following spring just shy of her 16th birthday.

Little did Anne Frank know, but a woman by the name of Miep Gies, who had lived openly at the Frank’s hiding place in Amsterdam, rescued Anne’s diary the day the German troops took the Franks away. Geis gave the diary to Anne’s father after learning she was dead. Her father sought to have the diary published, in part to enlighten the world to the effects of the Nazi party, prejudice, and war, but also to see his daughter’s dream of becoming a published writer realized.

The first publication of Anne Frank: A Young Girl’s Diary was in 1947. Since then, her personal account of life in hiding during the Holocaust has received additional publication runs and was turned into a film, The Diary of Anne Frank in 1959.

Many teenage girls are inspired to keep a diary by Anne Frank.
Many teenage girls are inspired to keep a diary by Anne Frank.

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Discussion Comments


With all the extant records the Nazis didn't have time to burn, I don't see how anyone can deny the Holocaust happened. This young woman didn't write her diary for effect. No one wrote it after she was arrested. It beggars the imagination how anyone could think this diary was a fabrication, as some Holocaust deniers have suggested.

Anne Frank is only one of many millions who perished. Who knows whether other great writers, composers, scientists also died in the camps? No, we can't forget. We doom ourselves to repeat it, otherwise, as the saying goes.


Her book has also been turned into a play and premiered on Broadway in 1955. It's always amazed me how one girl's account of her life became a touchstone book for so many people.

Even though some of Anne's writing has been idealized, it's still haunting reading. You know how it's going to end, so there's that constant tension going on throughout the book. There are no happy endings here, and that's a tough thing to remember.

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