On This Day in History: August 4
She was a 15-year-old Jewish girl, and she almost survived the war. Almost. We know Anne Frank because of her diary, but there were so many others just like her. Girls and boys and men and women with lives and dreams cut short because many of their fellow humans saw them as less than.
--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: August 4, 1944--
Born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1929, her family relocated to Amsterdam in the Netherlands after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. Seven years later, the Nazi war machine steam-rolled over the Dutch forces in four days, occupying the country. The family’s flight from the Nazi regime had only delayed the horror.
The Frank family tried to immigrate to the United States to escape the coming atrocities, but those efforts proved futile due in no small part to the U.S. being reluctant to accept Jewish immigrants because, well, they were assholes about the whole thing.
At first, there was segregation of Jews in the Netherlands, but before long came the deportations to concentration camps. On June 12, 1942, Anne received a blank book meant for autographs for her 13th birthday. It had a small lock on the front, and she decided to use it as a diary instead, with her first entry being on June 20. Sixteen days later, Anne, her father Otto, her mother Edith, and her older sister Margot went into hiding in a secret annex above the company where Otto worked, aided by his most trusted employees.
The Frank family had left its apartment in disarray, along with a note, to make it appear they had fled to Switzerland. They had to leave Anne’s cat Moortje behind, asking the neighbors to look after it. Soon after going into hiding the Franks were joined by the Van Pels, a Jewish family of three, and in the fall by a Jewish dentist named Fritz Pfeffer, making for eight people living in the cramped space for the next two years.
Anne passed the time by writing in her diary. She also kept up with her schoolwork, dreaming of being a journalist. Her final entry in the diary was on August 1, 1944.
It is uncertain who betrayed the family, but on August 4, 1944, the Gestapo raided the hiding place, and all were arrested and deported to Auschwitz. That fall Anne was relocated to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she died the following spring (probably from typhus), only a couple of months before the end of the war.
Anne’s father Otto was the only one to survive. He found that his secretary had kept Anne’s diary safe, and he saw it published in 1947.
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