On this sad date in 1944, young 15-year-old Anne Frank was discovered by the Nazi police hiding in a tiny attic room above her father Otto’s factory in Amsterdam, Holland. She and her family and four others were living in a secret annex concealed behind a moveable bookcase.
In the annex, Anne started to write regularly in a diary that she had been given for her 13th birthday. Early on, she observed the weekly trainloads of Jews taken from the city:
“We assume that most of them are being murdered. The English radio says they’re being gassed. Perhaps that’s the quickest way to die.”
And in fact, more than 100,000 Dutch Jews – 70 percent of the community – were deported to concentration camps in Germany. Most were gassed upon arrival.
Anne and the others had been in hiding for 25 months. No one knows for sure who betrayed them to the Nazis, but it is believed to have been a former business associate of Otto’s.
[New research suggests that the German Security Service may not have been looking for hidden Jews when they found Anne and the seven others hiding with her. Rather, they might have been investigating other activities at the office and simply stumbled across the hidden families by chance, according to historians at the Anne Frank House, the museum in Amsterdam dedicated to preserving the “Secret Annex” where Frank, her sister, her parents and four other Jews spent more than two years in hiding.]
After their capture, Anne and her sister Margot were taken to the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. In March, 1945, both girls succumbed to typhus, just a few weeks before the camp was liberated by the British Army.
Miep Gies, one of Otto’s employees who helped the Franks, found Anne’s diary on the day of the arrest and secreted it for the remainder of the war.
Otto managed to survive the war, and upon his return to Amsterdam, Miep gave him the diary. In her diary, Otto read that Anne had planned – after the war – to publish a book about the time she spent in the Secret Annex. She had even edited and rewritten a large portion of her original diary. Initially, Otto Frank was uncertain what to do but he finally decided to fulfill his daughter’s wish.
Otto Frank died in 1980. Anne’s diary, now translated into over 30 languages, still lives on.
She is perhaps most well-known for one of her last entries, less than three weeks before her capture:
“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”