Anne Frank, the young Jewish diarist celebrated for her courage and resilience while confined to a secret annex during the Second World War, was arrested 70 years ago today.
On 4 August 1944 the Frank family, along with the other four people hiding in the annex on Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, were arrested following an anonymous tip given to police.
The story of Anne Frank, her years of hiding and eventual capture by the Nazis is one of the best known of WWII.
The Frank family departed Germany in 1933 and travelled to Holland to escape the growing anti-Semitism experienced by the Jewish community following Hitler’s election.
After Anne’s sister Margot received a call-up letter for work in Germany from their home in occupied Holland, the Frank family were hidden in the secret annex behind Otto’s office in 1942, by his office manager Miep Gies.
Anne’s diary, which was addressed to “Kitty”, covers a period of two years, from June 1942, until the days before the family’s capture, and describes the lives of herself and her family in the weeks before they went into hiding, and then of their lives alongside fellow refugees Hermann, Auguste and Peter Van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer in the annex. It documents her relationship with her family, and her experience of self-discovery as a young teenager while living in hiding.
On the morning of 4 August, an anonymous tip was given to the security police, known as Sicherheitsdienst, and SS-Oberscharfuhrer Karl Silbernba, who arrived at the house on Prinsengracht aided by Dutch police in order to seize the Jews in hiding.
As documented by the Anne Frank House, Gies later described the moment that police stormed the office, and said: “The door opened and a small man entered. He pointed the revolver in his hand at me and said ‘Stay seated! Don’t move!’”
At this point, Victor Kugler, who had helped Gies hide the families, was forced to lead the way to the secret annex, through the moveable bookcase at the back of the room.
Otto Frank, the sole survivor of his family after they were arrested and forced into concentration camps, found the red-chequered diary he and his wife Edith had given to their daughter Anne on her thirteenth birthday, when he returned to the annex.
He had Anne’s diary published in 1947 under the title The Diary of a Young Girl, two years after her death at the age of 15. She had died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, located in what is today Lower Saxony in northern Germany, in 1945 of Typhus, a few weeks before the camp was liberated.
Anne’s last entry was written on Tuesday 1 August 1944. It reads:
"A bundle of contradictions" was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly what "a bundle of contradictions" is? What does "contradiction" mean? Like so many words, it can be interpreted in two ways: a contradiction imposed from without and one imposed from within.
The former means not accepting other people's opinions, always knowing best, having the last word; in short, all those unpleasant traits for which I'm known. The latter, for which I'm not known, is my own secret.
As I've told you many times, I'm split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. No one knows Anne's better side, and that's why most people can't stand me.
Oh, I can be an amusing clown for an afternoon, but after that everyone's had enough of me to last a month. Actually, I'm what a romantic movie is to a profound thinker – a mere diversion, a comic interlude, something that is soon forgotten: not bad, but not particularly good either.
I hate having to tell you this, but why shouldn't I admit it when I know it's true? My lighter, more superficial side will always steal a march on the deeper side and therefore always win. You can't imagine how often I've tried to push away this Anne, which is only half of what is known as Anne-to beat her down, hide her. But it doesn't work, and I know why.
I'm afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I'm afraid they'll mock me, think I'm ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I'm used to not being taken seriously, but only the "light-hearted" Anne is used to it and can put up with it; the "deeper" Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment she's called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking. Before I realize it, she's disappeared.
So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She's never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I'm alone. I know exactly how I'd like to be, how I am… on the inside. But unfortunately I'm only like that with myself. And perhaps that's why-no, I'm sure that's the reason why I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I'm happy on the outside. I'm guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I'm nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.
As I've told you, what I say is not what I feel, which is why I have a reputation for being boy-crazy as well as a flirt, a smart aleck and a reader of romances. The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn't give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way. If I'm being completely honest, I'll have to admit that it does matter to me, that I'm trying very hard to change myself, but that I I'm always up against a more powerful enemy.
A voice within me is sobbing, "You see, that's what's become of you. You're surrounded by negative opinions, dismayed looks and mocking faces, people, who dislike you, and all because you don't listen to the advice of your own better half."
Believe me, I'd like to listen, but it doesn't work, because if I'm quiet and serious, everyone thinks I'm putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I'm not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be sick, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can't keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside g out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I'd like to be and what I could be if… if only there were no other people in the world.
Yours, Anne M. Frank