On this day in history, August 4, 1944, acting on a tip by a Dutch informer, the Nazi Gestapo apprehended Anne Frank and her family, who were hiding in a sealed off area of an Amsterdam warehouse.
The Franks and another Jewish family, took shelter in the warehouse two years earlier starting in 1942 with the aid of Christian friends, who brought the families food and supplies. While in the “secret annex,” Anne spent most of her time writing in her diary, which survived the war and was overlooked by the Gestapo. Anne and nearly all of her family died in Nazi concentration camps.
Born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the second daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Hollander, both from Jewish families who had lived in Germany for centuries. The Franks fled Germany to Amsterdam in 1933 with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. In Holland, Otto ran a successful jam and spices business until the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940.
Anne started her diary on her 13th birthday in 1942, when she began writing every day about her relationships with friends and family, as well as the increasingly dangerous world around her. A few weeks later, Anne’s older sister Margot received notice to report to a Nazi “work camp.” Fearing deportation to a Nazi concentration camp, the Frank family went into hiding in the secret annex the next day.
Less than three months after the Allied troops successful landing in Normandy on D-Day, the Gestapo discovered the Franks based on a tip from an unknown informer. The Franks, the other family living in the secret annex, and the two Christians hiding the families were all arrested.
The Franks were first sent to concentration camp in Holland. Later, in September, Anne and most of the others were sent to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. In the fall of 1944, with the imminent Soviet liberation of Poland looming, Anne and Margot, were moved to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.
Suffering under the dire conditions of the camp, Anne and Margot contracted typhus and died in February 1945.
Otto Frank was the only survivor out of the ten occupants in the secret annex. After the war, he returned to Amsterdam via Russia and was reunited with Miep Gies, a former employee, who took him in. She delivered to him Anne’s diary, which was found in the annex, undisturbed by the raid.
In 1947, Frank published Anne’s “The Diary of a Young Girl” in its original Dutch, where it became an instant bestseller, and was later translated into over 70 different languages.
It is such a heart-wrenching story. The Nazis, Hitler, and his totalitarian regime, their reign of terror and the evil they committed under the guise of “purification.” The Holocaust was a terrible, terrible stain on history. The genocide of nearly six million Jews in Europe and the thousands of participants who could dehumanize another person in that way.
It is all so sad.
We are very fortunate to have Anne’s diary as a testament for all people. To remember. To reflect. To see one another in a new light. To recognize the darkness that could exist in our own hearts.
Take time to remember, reflect and pray today.