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1944: Desperate Acts
 pg. 506 
  Far away from Auschwitz on May 25, one day after Wiesel was given his Auschwitz tattoo, another Jewish teenager, Anne Frank, wrote in her diary. This young author never met Wiesel, but she was thinking of people like him and his family when she observed that "the world has been turned upside down. The most decent people are being sent to concentration camps, prisons and lonely cells, while the lowest of the low rule over young and old, rich and poor." Soon Frank's words would apply to her and her family. But as Elie Wiesel and the Jews from Sighet reached Auschwitz and the smell of burning flesh, Anne Frank slept in her Amsterdam hiding place at Prinsengracht 263.

Born on June 12, 1929, about nine months after Wiesel, Anne Frank and her family left their native Germany for Holland soon after the Nazis took power in 1933. Her relatively carefree life changed on May 10, 1940, when Germany invaded and occupied the Netherlands. By early June 1942, conditions for Dutch Jews had drastically worsened. With the help of friends such as Miep Gies, the Franks entered their hiding place. About one-fourth of the 25,000 Dutch Jews who went into hiding were eventually arrested and deported. The Franks were betrayed (the identity of this person remains unknown) and arrested by the SD (Security Service) on August 4, 1944. A month later, on September 3, Anne Frank and her family were among the 1019 Jewish prisoners forced to board the last Auschwitz-bound transport that left Westerbork, the Dutch transit camp from which about 107,000 Jews had been deported since July 1942.

The Auschwitz Chronicle states that 549 Jews in the Franks' transport from Westerbork were gassed on arrival at Auschwitz. Anne Frank was spared and sent to the women's camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. On October 28, 1944, she was among 1308 Jewish women who were transferred from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp inside Germany, where she perished from typhus in March 1945.

Anne Frank began writing in her diary on June 14, 1942, two days after her father, Otto, gave it to her as a 13th-birthday present. Saved by Gies, the diary has become the most widely read book about the Holocaust. Its last entry is dated August 1, 1944. Less than three weeks earlier, on July 15, Anne had written the diary's best-known words. She knew that the world was turning into "a wilderness," and she could hear "the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us, too." But nevertheless, she wrote, "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart."

It was hard to share Anne Frank's belief about human goodness in 1944. The end of the Third Reich was coming, but the Nazis were determined to win their war against the Jews. Auschwitz remained what Elie Wiesel called it: "the place of eternal night...the grave of man's heart."

On June 6, while Anne Frank heard BBC broadcasts about D-Day, the Allies' massive invasion of Normandy, transports continued to send thousands of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. On July 20 German officers made an unsuccessful attempt on Adolf Hitler's life, but that same day Auschwitz became the destination for 2000 Jews deported from Greece. Early the next week, Soviet troops liberated the killing center at Majdanek, Poland, as well as the Polish city of Lublin, but only a relative handful of Jews were left from Lublin's prewar Jewish population of 40,000.

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Hungarian Jews wait at a collection point in Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944 before being gassed.
Photo: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz

1944: Desperate Acts
 pg. 506 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.