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Anne Frank’s father was aware of the potentially disastrous political atmosphere in Germany as early as 1933. At this comparatively early stage in the growth of Nazism, Hitler was instilling his belief into the minds of many that Jewish folk should be despised. It is for this reason that Mr. Frank extended a section of his business to Amsterdam in Holland to serve as a potential hideaway.

Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1929, but in 1933, due to the planning of her father, was moved to Amsterdam. This was not the escape to impenetrable safety that the family had imagined, though. In 1940, Hitler’s Nazi army invaded Holland and soon had complete control of the country. Anne’s father had not been idle in this time, though; he had converted a section of his business premises into a secret hideaway for the family.

Because of her talent for writing at school, Anne Frank was given a diary for her thirteenth birthday, in 1942. Soon afterwards, Anne’s older sister, Margot was instructed to attend a labour camp. Instead, the whole family moved to the secret hideaway, along with four other Jewish exiles, and it was here that a large portion of Anne’s diary reflected two years of constant hiding in an attic, all too aware of the possible consequences should they be found. In 1944 the Nazis, who had been tipped off by a Dutch informant, found them.

The eight Jewish people that shared the hideaway were deported to Westerbork camp. As the Allied forces began retaking Holland, every inhabitant of the camp was moved on to the dreaded Auschwitz. The family was lucky enough not to be sent to the gas chambers, but a fate just as bad was around the corner, especially for the two sisters. They were moved to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in the winter of 1944. Lack of food, combined with the bitterly cold weather conditions and poor hygiene led to widespread disease. The two girls were in no state to fight off serious diseases, and died within a few days of one another in April 1945. Ironically, the camp was liberated by the British a few weeks later.

The diary of Anne Frank is an important piece of history of the Second World War. It was recovered by Anne’s father from the secret hideaway after the war. He was the only survivor out of the seven stowaways. The diary gives a detailed account of what life was like in the cramped conditions of the secret attic. Often, tempers were short because of this, coupled with living in constant fear of discovery by the German Nazis. She reveals her dislike for one of the exiles, Mr. Van Daan, regarding him as being superficial and petty, the exact opposite of her own personality. Incredibly though, Anne Frank writes about times of great joy interspersed throughout the miserable existence, including her first feeling of love for one of the opposite sex, Mr. Van Daan’s son, Peter. The impression of her as a very sensitive human being stands out throughout her writing.

Also of immense worth in the diary is Anne’s own voyage of self-discovery. At the time she wrote the diary she was beginning to mature from a girl into a young woman. This, coupled with the dangerous situation, led her to reveal her innermost thoughts, and yearn for a complete understanding of herself.

That so many aspects of growing up, learning and experiencing could be achieved in such an environment is testament to the exceptional sensitivity of Anne Frank. The unique perspective she put on those two years in the cramped loft will always be a fascination for anybody wanting to know what growing up, as a Jew, in Nazi occupied land was like during the Second World War.