The Life of Anne Frank

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• Part 2: Occupation and Hiding
Part 3: A Sad End

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Part 1: The Early Years

Anne Frank is one of the best-known names from the horrors of World War II, and her life story doesn't have a happy ending. Her courage in the face of terror and the honesty with which she writes in her famous diary make her a symbol of hope for young people everywhere.

Anne was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1929, to Otto and Edith Frank. Germany at this time was undergoing tremendous change. The end of World War I, in 1918, had left many nations in Europe devastated, their people hungry and their resources few. Germany was especially bad off, and the terms of the Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the war, specified that Germany had to pay Great Britain, France, and other wartime enemies enormous sums of money each year in order to somehow make up for the damage done during the war. The world was also in the midst of what we in America called the Great Depression. Thousands of people went without food and shelter. Money wasn't worth a whole lot. Jobs were scarce. A great many people were frightened. This was true in many countries in Europe and in the United States. It was especially so in Germany.

When Anne was 4, in 1933, Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party took control of the German government. The people who belonged to this political party didn't like Jewish people very much. Neither did lots of other people, especially in Germany. In fact, especially in Germany, Jewish people were singled out for blame for many of that country's problems, both economic and social. The people in power began to pass laws restricting Jews from doing basic things like buying food and goods at certain shops; such laws also prohibited non-Jews from shopping at places owned by Jewish people.

The Frank family was Jewish, and Otto and Edith were afraid of what might happen to them and their family if they stayed in Germany. In 1933, they moved to the Netherlands, a country that didn't have the kind of religious hatred that Germany had.

Otto Frank started a business called Opekta Werke in Amsterdam. It soon changed its name to Messrs. Gies & Company. Its now-famous address was 263 Prinsengracht. The company sold pectin, a powder made from fruit extract. This powder was used to make jelly.

Business was good for the company, and Otto expanded, taking on a partner, a man named Hermann van Pels, also a Jewish man who escaped Germany. Eventually, however, as in Germany, Jewish people were prevented from owning businesses. Anticipating this, Otto Frank and Herman van Pels turned over their business to Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, who worked at the company but were not Jewish.

In the meantime, however, the Franks were learning to like living in the Netherlands. They lived in an apartment at 37 Merwedeplein. Anne and Margot went to school. They and their parents took vacations at the beach. The family had many friends, Jewish and non-Jewish.

Next page > Occupation and Hiding > Page 1, 2, 3

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