Selected Moments of the 20th Century

A work in progress edited by Daniel Schugurensky
Department of Adult Education, Community Development and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)


Anne Frank leaves school, goes into hiding and starts writing her diary

The Diary of Anne Frank is the story of a young Jewish girl who with her family and four others was forced into hiding from the Nazis. She tells her story with sensitivity and honesty. People all over the world have read her account of her life in hiding and her diary serves as a constant reminder to society that these horrific crimes against humanity never be repeated.

For two years prior to Anne Frank’s first journal entry life would become more difficult for Jews living in Germany.  The rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party impregnated all aspects of society with hate towards Jews and other minorities.  The Nazi party, which came to power in 1933, systematically took away all citizens’ rights that Jews had enjoyed since the end of World War I.

In 1933, Otto Frank (Anne’s father) moved his family to Amsterdam to escape the Nazi regime.  By May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands, and the Frank family, like all Jews, became under the control of the Nazi party.  Jews were fired from all government positions, all businesses owned by Jews were liquidated and all Jews were required to register with the town registrar.  In December of 1940 Otto Frank passed his prospering food and chemical business to his non-Jewish friends and the business was moved to 263 Prinsengracht, the building that would serve as their “hiding place “ for two years.

During that period, many restrictions were placed on Jews. On May 2, 1942 all Jews were forced to wear yellow badges with the “Star of David”. Jewish children were not allowed to attend either Public or High Schools, and all Jews were banned from appearing in public places. As life became more difficult, Otto Frank began to create a plan to move his family into hiding. Along with four other people, they hid in a secret annex at the back of his business for two years (from July 9, 1942 to August 1, 1944). With the help of some friends, the eight inhabitants were able to live in secret until the Germans found them on August 1, 1944.

Anne Frank received her diary on her thirteenth birthday (Friday, June 12, 1942) and wrote her first entry on that day.   Her entries are filled with events that reflect those times, and many of her reflections and comments she recounts are timeless.  Anne is a typical teenager. The diary allows the reader to share her most private thoughts, feelings and experiences, which have many similarities with issues that teenagers face today. Anne Frank illustrates through words a clear and honest account of everyday life. The reader is able to look closely at a myriad of relationships, from the tensions in the interactions between mother and daughter, to the infatuations of a budding romance, to the rivalry between her and her sister Margot.  Her entries vividly detail the intimate relationships that develop within the confines of the annex.  Her writing is a testimony to spirit, courage and hope.  One of her entries dated Wednesday, January 13, 1943 illustrates a barrage of emotions. The following are snippets from the day’s entry.

Terrible things are happening outside.  At anytime of night and day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes”   “Families are torn apart:    “As for us, we’re quite fortunate.  Luckier than millions of people.”  “I could spend hours telling you about the suffering the war has brought, but I’d only make myself more miserable.  All we can do is wait, as calmly as possible, for it to end.  Jews and Christians alike are waiting, the whole world is waiting, and many are waiting for death.” (p.82)

From her earliest accounts, Anne appears to be a mature and articulate young woman. The reader is able to experience her pain, suffer her loneliness and celebrate her joys. The questions that she poses and her thought-provoking explanations remind us that her wisdom reached well beyond her young age. Anne Frank’s first person account of her confinement allows the reader to slip into her life and experience her frustrations and fears.  It is these emotions that reinforce the message her diary evokes, that these horrific acts against humanity shall never again be committed.   

Anne Frank’s diary began as her personal and private account of life in hiding.  In 1944 a radio broadcaster from London announced that after the war he hoped to collect eyewitness accounts of the suffering of the Dutch people under the Germans.  Hearing this, Anne began to rewrite her diary, editing passages that she thought were uninteresting and adding events that she remembered.  At the same time, she continued writing the original diary.

The pages of the diary were discovered after the Franks were arrested and Miep Gies, the secretary put them safely  away.  After the war, Anne’s father decided to honour her wishes and publish her diary, selecting materials from both versions.  Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl continues to be read around the world.


Frank, Anne   The Diary of a Young Girl, The Definitive Edition , edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler , Translated by Susan Massotty,  Bantam Books, 1997

Gies, Miep Anne Frank Remembered, The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family, Simon and Shuster, New York 1988

See also: 


Prepared by Barb Rabin (OISE/University of Toronto)

November 2001

Citation: Rabin, Barb (2001). 1942: Anne Frank leaves school, goes into hiding and starts writing her diary. In Daniel Schugurensky (Ed.), History of Education: Selected Moments of the 20th Century [online]. Available:  (date accessed).

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