Anne Frank Biography: Exploring Anne Frank’s Extraordinary Life

Anne Frank was born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. She was the second daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Holländer. Her older sister Margot was three years older. Her father was a lieutenant in the German army during World War I.

After the war, he became a businessman. Her mother came from a wealthy family. Anne and her sister were raised in Germany during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. As Jewish people, life became increasingly difficult for them.

Moving to Amsterdam

When Anne was four years old, her family moved to Amsterdam in the Netherlands to escape Nazi persecution. Her father started a business that sold pectin, a substance used to make jam. In 1940, German forces occupied Amsterdam as well.

This made life hard for Jews again. Anti-Jewish laws were enacted, and Anne’s father lost his business. Margot received a call up notice to report for relocation to a work camp. The family went into hiding to avoid this fate.

Years in Hiding

On July 6, 1942, the Frank family moved into a secret annex at the back of Otto Frank’s company building. The entrance was hidden behind a swinging bookcase. They were joined by Otto’s business partner Hermann van Pels, along with his wife Auguste and son Peter. Later, they were joined by dentist Fritz Pfeffer.

Anne started writing a diary in the secret annex while hiding from the Nazis. In the diary, she described her inner thoughts and struggles as her world was closing in around her. While in hiding, Anne heard about the heinous crimes being committed against Jews on the radio and in newspapers. She also read some of the books her father had in the hiding place and pursued her interest in writing.

On August 4, 1944, their hiding place was betrayed and the Gestapo stormed in. All of the inhabitants were arrested and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. Anne and Margot were later transported to Bergen-Belsen where they died of typhus in March 1945, only a few weeks before the camp was liberated. Otto Frank was the only inhabitant of the secret annex to survive. After the war, he returned to Amsterdam and found Anne’s diary. He had it published in 1947 so the world could read about his daughter’s hopes and dreams.

Table 1: Key Events in Anne Frank’s Life

1929Born in Frankfurt, Germany
1933Hitler takes power in Germany
1938Frank family moves to Amsterdam
1940Germany invades Netherlands
1942Frank family goes into hiding
1944Arrested and sent to Auschwitz
1945Dies of typhus at Bergen-Belsen
1947Anne’s diary published by father

Why Did the Franks Go Into Hiding?

The Frank family, like many other Jews in Europe, faced increasing discrimination and violence from the Nazis. When Margot received orders to report to a work camp in 1942, the family realized they had to go into hiding to avoid near certain death at the hands of the Nazis. Along with four others, they secretly lived in a hidden annex behind Otto Frank’s office building until they were discovered in 1944 and sent to concentration camps. Only Otto Frank survived.

What was Anne Frank’s Childhood Like?

Anne Frank was born in Germany and enjoyed a comfortable, well-to-do childhood until Hitler came to power in 1933. As the Nazis enacted increasingly restrictive laws against Jews, her family moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1934 hoping to escape persecution.

This worked for several years until Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940. While living in Amsterdam before going into hiding, Anne attended school and enjoyed reading and writing. As it became dangerous for her to appear in public as a young Jewish girl, her activities outside the home became very restricted.

Table 2: People in Hiding with Anne Frank

NameRelation to Anne
Otto FrankFather
Edith FrankMother
Margot FrankOlder sister
Hermann van PelsBusiness partner of Otto Frank
Auguste van PelsWife of Hermann
Peter van PelsSon of the van Pels
Fritz PfefferDentist friend

Who Betrayed the Families in Hiding?

The identity of the person who betrayed the hiding place to the Nazis has never been conclusively confirmed. There are several theories though. Some suspect it could have been Willem van Maaren, a warehouse employee who was not clued into the secret annex.

Others think it may have been Nelly Voskuijl, one of Otto Frank’s secretaries, or possibly her sister who was envious of the help he gave them. There is also the theory that burglars stumbled on the hiding place while robbing the building and tipped off authorities. Sadly, we may never know for sure who ultimately ended theFrank family’s lives in hiding.

How Did Anne Frank’s Diary Become a Published Book?

After the war, Anne’s father Otto was the only one of the annex inhabitants to survive. When he returned to Amsterdam, Miep Gies – one of the helpers who assisted the people in hiding – presented him with Anne’s diary that she discovered after the arrest and recovered from the ransacked hiding place.

Recognizing Anne’s talent and the historical significance of the personal account, Otto decided to fulfill Anne’s wish of becoming a published author by having the diary published. First published in Dutch as “Het Achterhuis” in 1947, the English version “The Diary of a Young Girl” soon followed in 1952. Since then it has been translated into over 60 languages, selling tens of millions of copies worldwide.

Table 3: Anne Frank Diary Publication History

1942-1944Anne writes diary while in hiding
1944Nazis arrest Frank family, diary left in hiding place
1945Otto Frank returns, given diary by Miep Gies
1947First published in Dutch as “Het Achterhuis”
1952English version “The Diary of a Young Girl” published
1959First American edition published
201970th anniversary of first printing, over 30 million copies sold


Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most iconic pieces of literature to come out of the Holocaust. Her vivid first-person account of trying to grow up while hiding from the Nazis with her family and friends moved countless readers.

Even today, Anne’s universal hopes, struggles, emotions and powerful writing resonate deeply with young readers around the globe. Though she was only 15 when she died, her father’s decision to publish the diary after the war brought her writing to millions.

While we mourn the terrible loss of Anne and so many others to racial hatred and violence, the diary’s indomitable spirit reminds humanity that light persists even in the darkest times. Through her words, Anne Frank touched and continues to touch generation after generation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where and when was Anne Frank born?

Anne Frank was born Annelies Marie Frank on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. Her father Otto Frank was a lieutenant in the German army during World War I. After the war he became a businessman, while her mother Edith was from a wealthy family.

How old was Anne Frank when she started writing her diary?

Anne Frank was 13 years old when she started writing her diary on June 12, 1942, which was her 13th birthday. She had received the iconic red and white checkered diary as a gift and started documenting her thoughts and experiences as her family went into hiding from the Nazis in occupied Amsterdam during World War II.

How long was the Frank family in hiding?

The Frank family was in hiding for around two full years, from July 1942 until they were discovered on August 4, 1944. They hid from the Nazis in a secret annex at the back of Otto Frank’s company building that had its entrance concealed behind a movable bookcase. Along with four other people, the eight inhabitants sought refuge there for over 700 days until betrayed.

Where was Anne Frank’s family hiding?

Anne Frank, her parents and sister Margot, along with four other Jewish people were hiding in a secret annex at Prinsengracht 263, above and behind Otto Frank’s business Opekta Works in Amsterdam. The entrance to hideout was concealed behind a swinging bookcase that opened into a few small rooms and spaces where they lived for over two years before authorities stormed it.