, Research Paper
The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank
Anne Frank has become the best know symbol for those Jews murdered during the Second World War. She wrote her diary while hiding in the attic from 1942 to 1944. The final chapters of Anne s life, the unwritten chapters of her diary include the arrest, deportation, and annihilation of herself along with six million Jewish victims of whom more than half were woman and children. Anne, her sister Margot, and their mother Edith met their deaths in the concentration camps. Anne s father, Otto Frank, was the only one to survive the camps.
On Tuesday, August 1,1994, Anne wrote the last letter to her diary (4). Three days later on August 4 the German Security Service, SD, raided the Annex at No. 263 Prinsengracht. Anne along with the eight others in hiding there were arrested. This is the point were Anne s own writing stops.
“The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank” traces her story through the testimony of six Jewish women who survived the hell from which Anne never returned. Hannah Elisabeth Pick-Goslar, Lies Goosens , tells her story first. Hannah speaks of how she got to know the Franks and the torture she along with the others endured.
When they moved to Amsterdam she along with her maid went to the store and this is the point where Hannah s maid began to talk to Anne s maid. The next day the two families met. Every Friday the Frank family would go and celebrate Passover with Hannah s family. Anne and Hannah became close friends and even went to school together, along with frequent visits to each other s houses. This was until the day when her mother needed a scale so she could make jam so she sent Hannah over to the Frank s house to get the scale but there was noone there. This was because Margot received a summons to report for work in the East (3). This was the time the Frank family went into hiding but Mr. Goudsmit, a tenant, told Hannah that the whole family went to Switzerland. This was to make everyone think that the Franks fled and they hoped noone would come look for them.
Hannah s family decided not to go into hiding due to her little sister and the fact her mother was about to have another baby. There was no way that they would have been able to keep quiet so therefore they chose not to hide. On June 20, 1943 the German took them to Westerbork (21). There Hannah along with her sister were put in an orphanage where there was no more to eat. There, Hannah work cleaning the toilets. Other work that they were known to perform included working on batteries along with whatever else the Germans told them to do.
On February 15,1944 they were then again deported to Bergen-Belsen (24). Here is where she spoke to Anne for the last time. Someone had told her that Anne was in the barracks on the other side of the barbed-wire fence. One night she risked going there and spoke to Anne. Hannah tells of how Anne immediately began to cry, telling of how she didn t have any more parents. She thought that her father was gassed right away. After her meeting with Anne here, she never spoke to her again for she was transferred to another section in Bergen-Belsen.
On February 25, 1945, Hannah s father died and at the end of March her grandmother died (29). She became very sick at this point but that did not change the fact that they were once again being transferred but this never completely happened. Germany was in the last phase of the war and because there was gunfire on both sides of the train they had to stop and go lie in the fields. This went on for about ten days until on e morning when they woke up and saw the Germans with white flags in their hands. The Russians had come and Hannah along with the others were allowed to go free. They traveled to two villages in the Area and were able to live in the house there. Here is where Hannah met up with Mr. Frank and she could not wait to tell him that his daughters were alive. She was so happy but Mr. Frank was reluctant to tell her the facts, Anne and Margot did not survive.
Mr. Frank helped Hannah get started with her life after the war. Hannah and Mr. Frank still keep in touch. She believes he moved on with his life and was not a broken man later (34).
The other five testimonies from Janny Brandes-Brilleslijper, Rachel Van Amerongen-Frankfoorder, Bloeme Evers-Emden, Lenie De Jong-Van Naarden, and Ronnie Goldstein-Van Cleef, all go through the same process of how they captured by the Germans, taken to camps and the hell they were put through. This was the same as Hannah or in some cases worse. Each of these women also told how they each came to know Anne.
Janny first met Anne and her family at the train station while waiting to be deported to Westerbork Detention Camp and Rachel, Lenie and Ronnie met them while in Westerbork. Bloeme is the only one who new Anne before camp. They met in the Jewish Lyceum, the Jewish Preparatory School. Janny, Rachel and Bloeme had no real contact with Anne but Lenie and Ronnie were close friends of the family right from the beginning. Each of these people mention how the Frank family were always by each other s side and when Mr. Frank was taken away Mrs. Frank tried to keep the girls alive and protected. When the death of Anne came about everyone was surprised to hear it because she was such a fighter and they thought she would survive until the end but after Margot s death she had nothing to live for.
Not only did these women talk about their relevance in Anne s life but also their living and working conditions, treatment they endured, and Liberation. Firstly, they tell the reader that the living conditions were unbearable. They lived in barracks and slept in bunks built on three levels. Each bunk was to be shared by two people; six people to each stack of bunks, but it ended up with five or six people lying across instead of lengthwise. The wooden frames of the bunks were known to creak as they slept each night. If you were one of the lucky ones, you got straw to use as a pillow; otherwise you had to use you arms and cover with your blanket. They barracks were dirty, infested with fleas and had rats were running all over. Everywhere one looked one was more than likely to see some kind of rodent running around. In order to keep the fleas away they had to sleep with their clothes on. The toilets were outside and many times there was no water to wash oneself with. With this said, we move on the harsh treatment these people went through.
Treatment of Jewish people was something no person should endure. They were put through such torture that it is amazing to see that one could survive such events.
The goal of the SS was physical annihilation, to degrade a person, to take away completely, to really completely tear to pieces, and to destroy your self respect, to make you into a rag without any will .
The transfer of passengers was long and disturbing. Everyone stood and had to take care of their personal business with others looking on. When the transports arrived, they were handed clogs and overalls with orders to strip. Each individual was tattooed by number and shaved below and under their arms, many times shaved completely bald as in Anne s case.
People endured physical abuse as well as mental abuse. There were times when there was no running water in the washrooms but what was worse was that there many occasions when there was nothing to eat. To go along with this aspect, the dead were taken out of the barracks and placed out in front of them in the sight of everyone passing by to see. It is amazing to see how strong these people were to get through the torture they withstood.
The work each person had to subdue was in many cases stressful. The workday ranged anywhere from eight to ten hours. These days would entail a short, maybe fifteen-minute break or no break what so ever. The tasks being performed included; pulling shoes apart, folding plastic for airplanes, and cleaning batteries, barracks and streets. It also included scrubbing toilets and working in the kitchen. Senseless acts such as moving blocks from one side of the barracks and then back again, were also asked to be fulfilled. Never the less, each job had to be done, and it had to be done right.
The last but most important event discussed was Liberation. Liberation was a day that none of these people forgot. Bloeme noted it was the happiest day of her life. An intense feeling of happiness spread among the people because they knew they had survived, yet many people died shortly after simply because they were too weak to go on with their lives. Rachel is noted as saying, maybe I was able to survive because I had had a bit more knowledge of life, a bit more will to live as well (109). As their happiness rang loud, one could hear people singing Wlhelmus , the Dutch National Anthem at the top of their lungs with tears of happiness flowing down their faces (80).
I am at awe to see how these people were so strong and got through the harsh treatment they experienced. To read how and what these people endured, at time made me sick. I know that if it was myself in that position I don t believe I would have been strong enough to hold on to something I had no control over. I wouldn t have had the strength and premonition to survive. I give them all the credit in the world for everything they went through because no person should ever have to go through the torture that they did.