The last train journey of 2 sisters.

Bergen BelsnTwo sisters, the younger one lively,outgoing and bubbly, the older one a bit more reserved and shy.

Two sisters who were very different and yet in many ways the same,

On this day in 1944 they both boarded a train. Not to go a big city to go for a shopping spree or to the cinema, like so many teenage girls would have done because it is one of the most normal things for young girls to do.

Nor did they go on a school trip or a holiday.

You see it was not that kind of train where you could sit down relax and enjoy the scenery,slowly passing by your window.

The train these girls were pushed in to was not fit for human beings, but they were not seen as human beings. They were seen as a disease, a plague of some sorts. Vermin and subhumans they were called.

The train left Auschwitz and headed for Bergen Belsen, a journey from one hell to another.

The two girls were Anne and Margot Frank.The dates of their deaths is not even exactly known, either February or March 1945. All that is certain they died in Bergen Belsen just a few weeks before it was liberated.

anne and margot

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The last single Journey: Westerbork-Auschwitz

Sign

One of the cruel jokes the Nazis played on their victims was giving them hope. Like a railway sign indicating a return journey that was never to be. Only empty trains returned ready to pick up more victims like lambs led to the slaughter.

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On September 3,1944 the last transport by train from Westerbork Transit Camp to Auschwitz took place.

Westerbork

Between July 15 ,1942 and September 13,1944 a total of 99 trains had left Westerbork for either Auschwitz,Sobibor,Theresienstadt and Bergen Belsen.

On the September 3rd transport 1019 victims were transported to Auschwitz. A journey which would take 3 days. Even before they reached Auschwitz they endured hell, because they were cramped in cattle cars, quite literally like cattle. There were no toilets, barely any food or water, nowhere to sleep. Some would die even before they reached their final destination.

What makes this transport special is because of one family, A Father,mother and 2 daugthers, only the father would eventually survive. This family was the Frank Family.

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Anne and Margot Frank had one more journey to make on 28 October they were selected to be transported to Bergen-Belsen, where both girls died. Otto and Edith Frank remained in Auschwitz but Edith eventually died of starvation in January 1945.

Frank Family

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Anne Frank-Before she was a victim, she was a child.

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I know that some people will disagree with the description of victim, but unfortunately Anne Frank did die as a result of the Holocaust which does make her a victim. But before that she was also a child.

This blog contains pictures to remind us of the fact that she had been a child, who lived a tragic short life.

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Source

Pinterest

The lonely journey of Otto Frank on the Monowai steamship.

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I am a father of 3 children and every time they leave the house a million scenarios go through my head of things that could happen to them, but I am not unique in this for it  is what fathers and mothers do, they worry for their kids.

Otto Frank was a father and a husband to 2 beautiful daughters and a remarkable wife, I just can’t fathom the anxiety he must have felt on the 4th of August 1944, when the Gestapo raided the annex of the building, Otto and his family had been hiding in since July 6 1942.

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The uncertainty of the fate of his family must have driven him to the brink of insanity.

On the 22nd of  April 1945, a few weeks before the end of the war in Europe, the Monowai,flying the New Zealand flag,  set sail from England for Odessa on the Black Sea.it was carrying 1600 Soviets who had been captured serving with the Germans in France. The Manowai then embarked Jewish Holocaust survivors from Western Europe, on of them was Otto Frank – who had been liberated from the Auschwitz death camp on January 27th 1945. by the Soviet army. On 21 May the ship traveled with the Jewish survivors   from Odessa to Marseille, where it arrived on the 27th of May.

Marseille

While aboard the Monowai, Otto Frank wrote the following letter:

“The closer we get to home the greater our impatience to hear from our loved ones. Everything that’s happened the past few years! Until our arrest I don’t know exactly what caused it, even now, at least we still had contact with each other. I don’t know what’s happened since then. Kugler and Kleiman and especially Miep and her husband and Bep Voskuil provided us with everything for two whole years, with incomparable devotion and sacrifice and despite all danger.

I can’t even begin to describe it. How will I ever begin to repay everything they did. But what has happened since then? To them, to you to Robert (His brother). Are you in touch with Julius and Walter? (Edith’s brothers) All our possessions are gone. There won’t be a pin left, the Germans stole everything. Not a photo, letter or document remains. Financially we were fine in the past few years, I earned good money and saved it. Now it’s all gone. But I don’t think about any of that. We have lived through too much to worry about that kind of thing. Only the children matter, the children. I hope to get news from you immediately. Maybe you’ve already heard news about the girls”

By this time Otto had discovered that his wife, Edith, had died at Auschwitz

This letter broke my heart. We know so much about Anne through her diary and also but to a lesser extend about Margot, but none of us can ever imagine the pain Otto felt when he heard the news about his daughters.

Frank

The sad thing is that Anne Frank’s diary did not have to be published if the US had not cancelled the Frank’s visa in December 1941, just after Germany had declared war to the US.  I am not accusing the US government but it is sad nonetheless.

The even sadder thing is that Otto Frank was accused of tempering with Anne’s diary. I really don’t understand the mindset of people like that. accusing a man who lost everything. To me he is a hero who despite everything kept his sanity and ensured that the story of his daughter and the rest of his family would be told.

Otto Frank died of lung cancer on 19 August 1980 in Basel.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Source

New Zealand History

Wikipedia

 

The other side of Anne Frank

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We all know the story of Anne Frank, well at least we think we do. But Anne Frank wasn’t only a girl who wrote a diary, she was also still a child and I think this is often forgotten. It’s probably because of her mature attitude but at the end of the day she was only a  child whose live was cut short and who was never got the opportunity  to fulfill her dreams.

Her last years she had to spend in hiding where he peers could go out for a picnic in’Vondelpark’ on a spring day or to the beach on a sunny day or put on ice skates in the winter when the canals were frozen and buy some goodies at the ‘koek en zopie’ stall- a stall where they sold cookies and hot chocolate milk or soup- for the young skaters.

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She was denied finishing school and going to college. When we just keep in mind that she wasn’t only a teenage diarist but also just a child we’ll realize how deep the drama really was. It was a child who was murdered.

Below are some pictures of the child Anne Frank

Anne Frank on her first day at school in Frankfurt, 1932.

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Anne Frank and 2 of her friends

 

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Anne Frank the writer

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The Brigitte Eicke Diary-A parallel universe

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This blog is not meant as an accusation it is merely meant to illustrate the differences of teenage life between German teenagers and the lives of teenagers who were considered sub human by the Nazi regime. the best way to describe it is a parallel universe.

Brigitte Eicke’s teenager account of life in wartime Germany illustrates  a complete different  perspective on the Nazi years.(shown on the right in the picture below)

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In  many ways Brigitte was just a typical teenage girl, obsessed with her friends, first kisses with boys and trips to the cinema.

However  as a  resident of Berlin  in the pre-WWII and WWII years , Brigitte was a first-hand witness to one of the most turbulent chapters of modern history and crucially, at the age of 15, she began keeping a diary.

Below are some excerpts of her diary.

‘There were some Jewish girls in my first ever class photograph, taken in 1933, but by the time the next was taken, they were all gone. When I asked my mother about them, she said they had moved to Palestine.’

May 11th , 1944

“Went in BDM (Nazi girl guide) uniform to the Admirals palast to see Madame Butterfly. It was wonderful, my first opera”

February, 27, 1943

‘Waltraud and I went to the opera to see “The Four Ruffians.” I had a ticket for Gitti Seifert too. What a load of nonsense, it was ridiculous.

‘We walked back to Wittenbergplatz and got on the underground train at Alexanderplatz. Three soldiers started talking to us. Gitti is so silly, she went all silent when they spoke to her. The least one can do is answer, even though we weren’t going to go anywhere with them.

‘Jews all over town are being taken away, including the tailor across the road.’

1 February 1944

“The school had been bombed when we arrived this morning. Waltraud, Melitta and I went back to Gisela’s and danced to gramophone records.”

2 March 1945

“Margot and I went to the Admiralspalast cinema to see ‘Meine Herren Söhne.’ It was such a lovely film but there was a power cut in the middle of it. How annoying!”

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November 1944

She writes that she has just been given a “disastrous” perm by her hairdresser and is worried about going to work “looking a fright”.

A different perspective

July 20th, 1944

Brigitte Eicke: “Sunned myself on the roof. Failed assassination on the Führer. In the night we heard the speeches of the Führer, Dönitz and Göring. Wonderful.”

Anne Frank: “Great news! There was an assassination attempt on Hitler … Sadly, ‘divine providence’ saved the Führer’s life and he survived with a few grazes and scorch wounds.

August 1st, 1944

Brigitte Eicke: “It rained all day. We had a nap in the afternoon and were in bed already by 10. It’s a shame, such a waste of a lost evening.”

Anne Frank: “Dear Kitty! … I’ve often told you that my soul is divided in two. One side contains my boisterous happiness … (and) squeezes out the other, much nicer, side that is more pure and deep. Nobody knows the nice side of Anne…” [Anne’s final diary entry]

2 May 1945

Brigitte Eicke: “At 3am Frau Schöbs came into the cellar and said: the Führer is dead, the war is over. I could only let out a scream… we went on to the street and all the soldiers were withdrawing, it is so sad.”

RtWopah

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

Irish Times

Der Spiegel

 

 

 

 

Anne and Margot Frank

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I often add words in the titles of my blog to describe parts of the contents of the blog. In this case I don’t have to do that because everyone knows the story of Anne Frank and to a lesser extend that of her older sister Margot.

On the 3rd of September 1944 they were deported from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

But on October 30, 1944, as the Russians advanced into Poland, many of the female prisoners of Auschwitz were deported to Bergen-Belsen in northern Germany. Margo and Anne Frank were among those forced to make the trip, but their mother, Edith, was left behind.Both girls died in Bergen-Belsen.

One of the saddest aspects is that the date of their death isn’t really known, it is assumed it was in February 1945 but the exact date is not known. This may sound like it is not important and maybe it isn’t but especially when it comes to Margot it isn’t know if she was 18 or 19 when she died, or did she die on her birthday 16 February. To us this means nothing but as a Father myself I could understand these are things Otto Frank would have like to know, because it would be important to a parent.

It really is unfathomable that these 2 young women died not because they were hardened criminals, or had a rare disease, or  were planning a military coup. No the only reason they died was because they were Jewish.

Below are some pictures of the two Frank sisters.

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At school

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Anne,Margot and a proud dad, Otto.

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The Frank family, Margot, Otto, Anne, and Edith, shortly before going into hiding

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I so hope that no teenage diary like Anne Frank’s diary has to be published again.I also hope that those who use Anne Frank’s memory and pictures as sick jokes will read this and look into the eyes of both girls and then look in the eyes of their own wives,daughters,nieces, or grand children and realize it could have been them.

Herman van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer- The other 2 fathers in Anne Frank’s annex

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We all know the story of Anne Frank but we don’t really know that much of the others who hid in the secret annex.

On Father’s day lets have a look at the other 2 Fathers who stayed with Anne Frank and her family.

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Hermann van Pels, (31 March 1898 – October 1944), known as Hermann (Hans in the first manuscript) van Daan in Anne’s diary, died in Auschwitz, being the first of the eight to die. He was the only member of the group to be gassed. However, according to eyewitness testimony, this did not happen on the day he arrived there. Sal de Liema, an inmate at Auschwitz who knew both Otto Frank and Hermann van Pels, said that after two or three days in the camp, van Pels mentally “gave up”, which was generally the beginning of the end for any concentration camp inmate. He later injured his thumb on a work detail and requested to be sent to the sick barracks. Soon after that, during a sweep of the sick barracks for selection, he was sent to the gas chambers. This occurred about three weeks after his arrival at Auschwitz, most likely in very early October of 1944, and his selection was witnessed by both his son Peter and by Otto Frank.

Hermann van Pels begins working with Otto Frank in 1938. Miep Gies remembers him as “tall, large man” and “quite an agreeable sort, [who] had no trouble fitting into the routine” in the company.

Hermann van Pels

Hermann acquired his knowledge of the butcher’s trade by working in the business of his father, Aron van Pels (who was originally Dutch). After his marriage to Lina Vorsänger, Aron settled down in Gehrde, Germany. He worked there for his German father-in-law, a wholesaler in butchers’ equipment. Aron and Lina had six children: Max, Henny, Ida, Hermann, Klara and Meta. Hermann was born on March 31, 1898. He became the representative of his father’s business in Osnabrück, Germany.

On December 5, 1925 he married the German Auguste (Gusti) Röttgen. She then became Dutch, since according to German law women automatically assumed the nationality of their husbands.

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Gusti was born on September 29, 1900 in Buer, near Osnabrück, and her father was a merchant. Hermann and Gusti lived in Osnabrück, near the Dutch border, where Peter was born on November 8, 1926.

Peter van Pels

Fritz Pfeffer (30 April 1889 – 20 December 1944) was a German dentist and Jewish refugee who hid with Anne Frank during the Nazi Occupation of the Netherlands, and who perished in the Neuengamme concentration camp in Northern Germany.

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Pfeffer was given the pseudonym Albert Dussel in Anne’s diary, and remains known as such in many editions and adaptations of the publication.

His cause of death was listed in the camp records as “enterocolitis”, a catch-all term that covered, among other things, dysentery and cholera.

Fritz Pfeffer was born in Gießen, Germany, one of the five children of Ignatz Pfeffer and Jeannette Hirsch-Pfeffer, who lived above their clothing and textiles shop at 6 Marktplatz in Giessen. After completing his education, Fritz trained as a dentist and jaw surgeon, obtained a license to practice in 1911 and opened a surgery the following year in Berlin.

He served in the German Army during the First World War.

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In 1926 married Vera Bythiner (31 March 1904 – 30 September 1942), who was born in Posen in Imperial Germany (now Poznań, Poland). The marriage produced a son, Werner Peter Pfeffer (3 April 1927 – 14 February 1995), then the couple divorced in 1932. Fritz was granted custody of the boy and raised him alone until November 1938,

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when the rising tide of Nazi activity in Germany persuaded him to send him into the care of his brother Ernst in England. Werner emigrated to California in 1945 after his uncle’s death and changed his name to Peter Pepper, later establishing a successful office supplies company under that name.

The tide of antisemitism in Germany, which increased from the election of Adolf Hitler in 1933, forced most of Fritz’s relatives to flee the country. His mother had died in 1925; his father remarried and remained in Germany, only to be arrested; he died in Theresienstadt in October 1942. His elder brother Julius Pfeffer had died in 1928, Emil Pfeffer emigrated to South Africa in 1937, Ernst Pfeffer moved to England and died in 1944, and Hans left for New Jersey. Their sister Minna remained with their father in Germany and died in Nazi custody. Vera escaped to the Netherlands but was arrested in 1942 and died in Auschwitz.

In 1936 Fritz met a young woman, Charlotte Kaletta (1910–1985), born in Ilmenau, Thuringia in central Germany, who shared his history of a broken marriage. She was estranged from her first husband, Ludwig Lowenstein, and their son Gustaf. The couple moved in together but were prohibited from marrying under the 1935 Nazi Nuremberg Laws which forbade marriages between Jews and non-Jews.

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Kristallnacht cemented their decision to leave Berlin and they fled to Amsterdam in December 1938.

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They were there for two years before the German invasion, and subsequent anti-Jewish laws which did not permit the co-habitation of Jews and non-Jews forced them to officially separate and register under different addresses. After establishing a dental practice in Amsterdam’s Rivierenbuurt he became acquainted with the Van Pels and Frank families. Miep Gies met Pfeffer at one of the Franks’ house parties and became a patient in his dental practice.

n the autumn of 1942, he decided to go into hiding and asked Miep Gies about some suitable addresses. She consulted Otto Frank, who, with his and the van Pels family, was being hidden by her in secret rooms in the Franks’ office building. Frank agreed to accommodate Pfeffer, and he was taken into their hiding place on 16 November, where his medical degree came in handy as they could not contact a doctor while in hiding.

Margot Frank moved into a room with her parents, to allow Pfeffer to share a small room with Anne, beginning what would become a torturous relationship for both.

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It has been suggested by at least one biographer that Anne’s extreme discomfort at sharing her room with a middle-aged man while she was going through puberty may have been at the root of her problems with Pfeffer, but the pressures of being in hiding and the generational differences of their forty-year age gap undoubtedly exacerbated the differences in their natures. Pfeffer felt his age gave him seniority over Anne and wrote off her writing activities as unimportant compared to his own studies. His observance of orthodox Judaism clashed with her liberal views. Her energy and capriciousness grated on his nerves, while his pedantry and rigidity frustrated her. Anne’s irritations and growing dislike of Pfeffer led to complaints and derisory descriptions of him in her diary, against which his son Werner and wife Charlotte defended him once the book was published.The relationship of Anne and Fritz was the toughest of all.

Fritz Pfeffer met zoon Werner, Berlijn, 1937/1938.

Pfeffer left a farewell note to Charlotte and they stayed in touch through Miep, who met her on a weekly basis to exchange their letters and take provisions from her.

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His letters never disclosed the location of his hiding place and Miep never revealed it, but on 4 August 1944 Pfeffer and the seven other occupants of the hiding place were arrested for deportation to Nazi concentration camps.

With the rest of the group and two of their protectors, Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, Pfeffer was taken to the Nazi headquarters in Amsterdam-South, then to a prison for three days before being transported to Westerbork on 8 August. Pfeffer was taken to the Punishment Barracks with the others, where he undertook hard labour, until he was selected for deportation to Auschwitz on 3 September. He was separated from the others on arrival on 6 September and sent to the men’s barracks, where he was reunited with Otto Frank. On 29 October he was transferred with 59 other medics to Sachsenhausen and from there to Neuengamme on an unknown date. There, he died at age 55 in the sick barracks, of enterocolitis on 20 December 1944, according to the camp’s records.800px-Neuengamme_(Dove_Elv_Schild)

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Anne Frank

Anne-Frank

Anne Frank would have turned 88 today so on her birthday what better time to reflect on her life.

I will focus more on her younger years prior to her diary. So much has already been written about Anne, I doubt there will be anything new in this blog, it is nevertheless important to remember Anne and through her all those who perished.

Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank  born 12 June 1929.

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(Anne Frank’s birthplace, the Maingau Red Cross Clinic)

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Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she lived most of her life in or near Amsterdam, Netherlands, having moved there with her family at the age of four-and-a-half when the Nazis gained control over Germany.

The roots of the family of Anne Frank can be traced back to the Judengasse (Jews’ lane) in Frankfurt am Main. From 1462, this was the ghetto of the city. All 110 Jews who had previously lived in the centre of the city had to move there. At either end of the lane were gates that were closed on Christian holidays.

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In 1925, Otto Frank married Edith Holländer, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist from Aachen.Her ancestors had moved to Germany from Amsterdam. Although the Holländers were not orthodox, Edith’s father was a prominent member of the Jewish community. They ran a kosher household and attended synagogue regularly. The Franks, on the other hand, were assimilated Jews. After their honeymoon, the couple moved into the house of Otto’s mother Alice. Otto’s sister Leni, her husband Erich and their two sons Stephan (1921-1980) and Bernhard, known as Buddy (1925), were already living there. Otto and Edith Frank’s older daughter, Margot, was born in 1926 and their younger daughter, Anne, was born in 1929.

On January 30, 1933, Hindenburg, President of the Reich, appointed Hitler Chancellor of the Reich, and as early as April 1 a boycott against the Jewish population came into force. SA commandos occupied the entrances to Jewish department stores and shops, and prevented access to law firms and medical practices owned by Jewish citizens.
The Franks also decided to leave Germany. Otto Frank moved to Amsterdam in 1933, where he set up a branch of Opekta-Werke. In 1934 he sent for his wife and daughters, Margot and Anne, who were eight and five years old, to join him in Amsterdam. The family settled down well into life in the Netherlands.

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When the German army attacked the Netherlands in May 1940 and then occupied the country, anti-Jewish laws were issued there as well. Jews were increasingly limited in their professional and social life. When Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend the same school as non-Jewish children, Anne Frank switched to the Jewish Lyceum.

For her thirteenth birthday on 12 June 1942, Anne received a book she had shown her father in a shop window a few days earlier. Although it was an autograph book, bound with red-and-white checkered cloth and with a small lock on the front, Frank decided she would use it as a diary, and she began writing in it almost immediately.

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In her entry dated 20 June 1942, she lists many of the restrictions placed upon the lives of the Dutch Jewish population

Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl found Anne Frank’s diaries after the family had been deported.

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The women were secretaries for Opekta-Werke, where Anne Frank’s father had also worked, and were members of the group of helpers who had hidden the family.
Miep kept the diaries in the hope that she would be able to return them to Anne Frank one day. When, after the war, she found out that Anne Frank had died in the concentration camp, she handed the notebooks and loose sheets to Anne Frank’s father Otto Frank, the sole survivor of the family.

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Anne Frank’s possessions

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Some Jewish children gave away their toys when they had to report for transport or went into hiding. Marbles were a child’s prized possession. The night before they were transported, a few children in the South of Amsterdam were known to have said: ‘Let’s just toss them!’ They threw their marbles out the window, hoping other children in the neighbourhood would gather them up.

Shortly before going into hiding on 6 July 1942, with her parents and sister Margot in the Secret Annex on Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht, Anne Frank also left a few prized possessions behind. She gave her tea set, the book Nederlandsche sagen en legenden  (Tales and Legends of the Netherlands) that she’d also received on 12 June as a birthday gift and this metal tin of marbles to her neighbourhood friend Toosje Kupers.

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Anne was concerned that her treasured marble collection would fall into the wrong hands, so she asked Toosje to keep them for safe until her return.

 

 

Toosje Kupers had kept her promise to Anne. The marbles, tea set and book were still safe. She offered to return Anne’s treasures to her father, but Otto Frank told her to keep them.

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Otto Frank was the only one of the Frank family to survive the concentration camps. After the war, Toosje Kupers saw Anne’s father several times. When Anne Frank’s diary was published in 1947, Otto Frank personally gave Toosje a copy.

 

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