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The background setting for Anne Frank's diary is World War II, which was started by Germany and lasted from 1939 - 1945. Having lost World War I, Germany dreamed of revenge and the recapture of lost territories; but the Republic of Germany, known as the "Weimar Republic," was unable to cope with post-war problems and gave rise to a dictatorship. Hitler and his Nazi party rose to power by appealing to the many discontented German citizens and quickly suppressing their adversaries. On March 23, 1930, Hitler, with his totalitarian regime, assumed total control of the country. He immediately outlawed all other political parties, churches, and labor unions. He also formed the Gestapo, a regimented military police organization, to enforce his new laws. At the same time, radio, newspapers, and even motion pictures were seized by the government to issue Nazi propaganda.
With a strong belief in ethnic cleansing, Hitler began his attempt to purify Germany by eradicating all but the Aryan (Germanic) race. False arrests, tortures, illegal imprisonments, and even murders were commonplace. He then created concentration camps to house the many prisoners who were opposed to his government or who came from the wrong race; when the prisoners arrived in the camps, their heads were shaved and their arms were tattooed with their identification number. In the camps, many of those interred, especially the Jews, were exterminated through starvation, sickness, unmerciful beatings, firing squads, and gas chambers. Those who were not killed were totally humiliated and forced into hard labor, including the children. The women were often sexually abused and raped.
By the time that Otto Frank left Germany to live in Holland with his family in 1933, the Nazi persecution of the Jews had already begun, and Hitler had started to re-arm Germany for a future war, in blatant violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Then in 1938, he invaded and annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia, telling the world it was a move towards peace.
When Hitler began an invasion of Poland in l939, France and Britain finally declared war on Germany, and World War II had begun. Hitler, however, had amassed a mighty and well-armed fighting force, and by 1940, he had overrun Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France. In 1941, Hitler launched an attack against Russia.
Throughout the next few years, the persecution of the Jews intensified, and all of Europe became overrun and controlled by the brutal Nazis. By the time that Hitler was defeated and the war ended in 1945, more than six million Jewish men, women, and children had been killed, which was over 60% of the total number of Jews in the world.