We all know the story of Anne Frank and there is no denying that her diary was very important to get an insight to how life was for those who had to hide for the evil Nazi regime. However people do sometimes forget about the other women and men who hid in the annex in Amsterdam.
Edith was the youngest of four children, having been born into a German Jewish family in Aachen, Germany. Her father, Abraham Holländer (1860–1928) was a successful businessman in industrial equipment and was prominent in the Aachen Jewish community as was her mother, Rosa Stern (1866–1942). Her occupation is unknown. Edith had two older brothers, Julius and Walter, and an older sister, Bettina.
Bettina died at the age of 16 due to appendicitis when Edith was just 14.
She met Otto Frank in 1924 and they married on his 36th birthday, May 12, 1925, at Aachen’s synagogue.
They had two daughters born in Frankfurt, Margot, born 16 February 1926, followed by Anne, born 12 June 1929.
The rise of Antisemitism and the introduction of discriminatory laws in Germany forced the family to emigrate to Amsterdam in 1933, where Otto established a branch of his spice and pectin distribution company. Her brothers Walter (1897–1968) and Julius (1894–1967) escaped to the United States in 1938, and Rosa Holländer-Stern left Aachen in 1939 to join the Frank family in Amsterdam..
In 1940 the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and began their persecution of the country’s Jews. Edith’s children were removed from their schools, and her husband had to resign his business to his Dutch colleagues Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, who helped the family when they went into hiding at the company premises in 1942.
The two-year period the Frank family spent in hiding with four other people (their neighbours Hermann van Pels, his wife Auguste Van Pels and his son Peter Van Pels, and Miep Gies’s dentist Fritz Pfeffer) was famously chronicled in Anne Frank’s posthumously published diary, which ended three days before they were anonymously betrayed and arrested on 4 August 1944.
During the hiding period, Edith was often depressed. Miep describes a confidential conversation with Edith Frank:
“What she needed to talk about, which she couldn’t talk about in front of the others, was that she was suffering under a great weight of despair. Although the others were counting the days until the Allies came, making games of what they would do when the war was over, Mrs. Frank confessed that she was deeply ashamed of the fact that she felt the end would never come.
After detainment in the Gestapo headquarters on the Euterpestraat and three days in prison on the Amstelveenweg, Edith and those with whom she had been in hiding were transported to the Westerbork concentration camp. From there, they were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp on 3 September 1944, the last train to be dispatched from Westerbork to Auschwitz.
Edith and her daughters were separated from Otto upon arrival and they never saw him again. On 30 October another selection separated Edith from Anne and Margot. Edith was selected for the gas chambers, and her daughters were transported to Bergen-Belsen.
Edith escaped with a friend to another section of the camp, where she remained through the winter. While here she hid each scrap of food she would get and saved it for her daughters. Because of her refusal to eat any of the food she was saving for her daughters she died from starvation on January 6, 1945, three weeks before the Red Army liberated the camp and 10 days before her 45th birthday. Her daughters outlived her by one month