On June 12, 1942, a young Jewish girl named Annelies Marie Frank made her first entry in her now-famous diary, which had been given to her as a birthday present. Little did she know that it would be read and discussed for generations to come, and that through her private musings she would become an unforgettable symbol of the tragedy of the Holocaust for millions of readers around the world.
Teenage Anne Frank, who was only 16 when she was killed in the Nazi death camp Bergen-Belsen, wrote in this diary throughout the two years she spent in hiding with her family and four other Dutch Jews, between 1942 and 1944. Their refuge was a secret attic apartment, concealed behind her family’s business office in Amsterdam.
During that time, Anne recorded her innermost thoughts and painfully honest observations from the “achterhuis” — the “Secret Annex,” as she called her hidden home. These diary entries reflected the tension and danger she and her family faced from both the Nazis and Dutch sympathizers, but they also shared her youthful idealism and thoughtfulness, according to diary excerpts. Anne not only documented day-to-day life for eight people sharing a cramped hiding place and fearing discovery at any moment; she also captured their moments of tenderness and humor, and their hopefulness even in the face of a terrible reality. [Dear Diary’: 14 Journal Keepers Who Made History]