During The Holocaust many Jewish people went into hiding in order to escape from Nazi persecution. The term ‘hiding’, however, encompasses a variety of actions and experiences. Whilst some people managed to secure false identity papers and hide openly under the protection of willing individuals, others were physically hidden from the outside world. Cellars, barns and attics were just a few places used in these circumstances and many Jews survived by hiding in them, often with assistance. The diary of Anne Frank is the account of her time in hiding and is an invaluable testimony to this experience.

Anne was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1929 to Otto and Edith Frank. In 1933 the family moved to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in an attempt to escape from increasing Nazi persecution in Germany. Whilst in Amsterdam Otto worked as the Director of Opekta, a company which made the product opekta (used in the manufacture of jam) and Edith ran the household. Anne was the younger of two siblings and her older sister Margot aspired to emigrate to Palestine after the war.

In 1940 the Nazis occupied The Netherlands and persecution of Jewish people increased. After Margot received a call-up to be sent to a Nazi labour camp in Germany on July, 5 1942, the Franks went into hiding in Amsterdam in an empty part of the Opekta building. Anne called the space in which they hid, the ‘Secret Annex’. They were later joined by the Van Pels family (Hermann, Auguste and Peter) and Fritz Pfeffer, in July 1942 and November 1942 respectively.


Photo: Amsterdam. The Frank family went into hiding from 1942 to 1944. 

On August 4th 1944 after spending two years in hiding, everyone in the Annex is betrayed by an anonymous call alerting the Nazis to their presence. Of the Annex’s eight occupants Otto was the only survivor; Anne and Margot were murdered in Bergen-Belsen in 1945, whilst their mother Edith was murdered in Auschwitz in the same year.

For her birthday in June 1942 Anne had been given a diary with a red chequered cover, it was a cherished gift. Anne addresses her diary entries to ‘Kitty’, the name she gave her diary and used it to record her feelings and thoughts as well as describing things that happened in hiding.

Anne’s diary, first published in 1947, provides one of the most poignant and iconic documents of the Holocaust. She describes life before going into hiding, her time as a student at the Jewish Lyceum School, and Nazi persecution. In July 1942 she wrote:

'I was stunned. A call-up: everyone knows what that means. Visions of concentration camps and lonely cells raced throughout my head'.

Her writing demonstrates that despite the Annex’s physical separation the occupants were aware of what was going on in the outside world. They would often listen to the radio, tuning into BBC broadcasts whenever possible. In October 1942 Anne wrote:

'We assume that most of them (The Jews) are being murdered. The English radio says they’re being gassed'.

Although her diary is an invaluable testimony of the Holocaust it also reflects the everyday thoughts, concerns and hopes of many young people. She writes about navigating through adolescence, her love of writing and aspirations to be a writer. In addition, she regularly wrote about the challenges of family life, augmented in the confines of the Annex. For example in December 1942 she wrote:

Despite all my theories and efforts, I miss – every day and every hour of the day – having a mother who understands me. That’s why with everything I do and write, I imagine the kid of mum I’d like to be with my children later on. The kind of mom who doesn’t take everything people say too seriously, but who does take me seriously. I find it difficult to describe what I mean, but the word "mum" says it all.

Evidently, her writing holds universal significance and resonates with many throughout the world. The Annex is now part of The Anne Frank House Museum and is open for people to visit. One of our volunteers Saoirse O’Halloran recently visited the Museum and shares her thoughts:

As a devoted volunteer for The National Holocaust Centre and Museum in Nottinghamshire, when I booked my trip to Amsterdam in March my first thought was to visit the Anne Frank House. After contacting the lovely Director, who was more than welcoming, I had a meeting set up with Sarah, a member of the Communications team.

My first thoughts were that the house was similar to images I had been shown in school – but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The House itself is huge, far bigger than I ever thought, which juxtaposes the space that Anne and other families resided in for four years.

Otto Frank, Anne’s father and the only member of the Frank family to survive The Holocaust, ensured that the house stayed exactly the same after War. Walking into each room and seeing handwritten notes from Anne was extremely moving. Each room is full of educational resources for members of the public. Whatever language visitors speak they can learn about the horrors of her ordeal and that of others. The space is respectful but enlightening and promising; I hope that as more people learn about the ordeal of one young girl during the Holocaust so that the same can be avoided and the value of diversity is celebrated!


Anne Frank House ‘Anne Frank House, a museum with a story’, Anne Frank House [Online]. Available at http://www.annefrank.org/en/Museum/ (Accessed 16 April 2015).

The British Library ‘Anti-Jewish Decrees’, The British Library [Online]. Available at http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/voices/info/decrees/decrees.html (Accessed 16 April 2015).

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum ‘Life in the Shadows: Hidden Children and The Holocaust’, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum [Online]. Available at: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10006123 (Accessed 16 April 2015)