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Mrs. Frank was born in 1900 as Edith Hollander in Aachen, Germany. Since her family was financially well off, they had servants, and Edith lived a life of ease. In 1925, she married Otto Frank, a man eleven years older than she. They lived a comfortable life in Frankfurt, Germany, where both Margot and Anne were born. In 1933, Mrs. Frank and her family moved to Amsterdam, Holland, to escape Hitler's persecution of the Jews in Germany. In 1942, she went into hiding with her family, for the Nazis had invaded Holland. After she and her family were discovered and captured, she was sent to Auschwitz, where she literally lost her mind and refused to eat. She died in her bed there on January 6, 1945, only a few days before the Jews were freed from the camp.
As Portrayed in the Diary:
Throughout the diary, Anne presents her mother, Mrs. Frank, in a negative way. It must be remembered, however, that Anne, the rebellious adolescent, sees her mother as an irritating figure of authority, and Mrs. Frank must surely resent Anne's rejection of her. Additionally, Mrs. Frank is particularly miserable in the annex, for she is from a rich family, where she knew the finest things in life and never had to work. As a result, the confining, cramped quarters of the annex, the scarcity of basic necessities, and the hard work are real irritations to her. She often takes out her frustrations on her chattering, sometimes irritating, younger daughter. She also criticizes Anne for talking too much and being too moody and uncooperative. Under the trying circumstances, it is not surprising that Anne thinks Mrs. Frank is far less than an ideal mother.
Mrs. Frank proves that she is not a particularly wise or strong woman. She was obviously partial to Margot, for she found her older daughter easier. Unlike Anne, Margot was quiet, obedient, and patient. Mrs. Frank also thought she was more beautiful, talented, and intelligent. Anne sensed the partiality, which only intensified her negative feelings about her mother. Additionally, Mrs. Frank was basically weak. She was so upset about going into hiding that she went to bed and was unable to help with the unpacking. When there is bickering in the annex, she does nothing to stop it. When the young people are bored, she doesn't prepare them lessons or find them entertainment; instead, she lets her husband entirely run the show. It is not surprising that Anne does not want to grow up and be like her.
Otto Frank was born into a wealthy Jewish family and raised in Frankfurt, Germany. Like his father, he went into business for himself after graduating from high school. During World War I, he joined the German army and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. After the war, he returned to Frankfurt and continued in his business that specialized in banking. At the age of 36, he married Edith Hollander, a wealthy young woman who was eleven years younger than he. He moved his family to Holland in 1933, where he remained until his capture by the Nazis.
Mr. Frank felt terrible that his friends Koophuis and Kraler were also arrested by the Gestapo for helping to hide his family; but he felt hopeful that all of them would survive until the end of the war, for the Allied forces were making advances against Germany. Before being sent to Westerbork, Frank expressed his appreciation to Koophuis for his help and his regret over his capture. Koophuis tried to comfort Otto Frank, telling him that he had helped because he wanted to try and save the lives of the Franks.
At Westerbork, Frank was separated from his wife and daughters, but he was permitted to visit them regularly in the female barracks. He always tried to cheer them up, pointing out that surely the war was close to ending and that they might all escape the concentration camps. Unfortunately, Otto's predictions did not come true, and the Franks were sent to Auschwitz, in the very last trainload of prisoners shipped out of Holland. Upon arrival, the men were separated from the women; it was the last time Otto Frank was ever to see his family.
In January of 1945, when the Nazi guards left Auschwitz, taking most of the prisoners with them, Mr. Frank was left behind because he was in the infirmary, where he stayed until the camp was liberated by the Russians in February. After the war was over, he tried unsuccessfully to find his family. In reality, he was the only one of the occupants of the secret annex to survive the war. His wife and children all died of typhus in the concentration camps.
Frank finally returned to Amsterdam and contacted Miep and Elli, who gave Frank the diary that Anne had written and left behind in the annex. As a tribute to her, he decided to have the diary published in 1947, but he seldom talked about what had happened to his family, for it was too painful. Otto Frank lived the rest of his days in Amsterdam and died there 1980.
As Portrayed in the Diary:
Otto Frank, Anne's father, was a kind, caring, wise, and practical man. When he saw the Jews being persecuted in Germany, he moved himself and his family to Holland in 1933. Then when the Nazis invaded Holland, he made plans to take his family into hiding, hoping they would all be safe until the end of the war. It is obvious that he was much loved and respected by his Dutch business colleagues, for they were the ones who helped him prepare the annex and kept it supplied, even though they were risking their own lives for the safety of the Frank family. It is also obvious that he was a generous man, for he readily accepted the Van Daans and Dussel into the cramped quarters that he had prepared for his family. When Anne complains about the newcomers, he wisely teaches her that the most important thing is to save another Jewish life.
Once the Franks moved into the secret annex, Otto became the leader and peacemaker of the group. It is he and Anne that unpack the family's belongings and organize the annex. Later, when tempers flared, he often intervened in arguments, calming the opposing forces. Additionally, he found books and created lessons for the young people to keep their minds sharp and to relieve their boredom. When Anne came to him for comfort or advice, he always found time for her.
Because she had such a distant and negative relationship with her mother, Anne became very close to her father. It was his gift on her thirteenth birthday that she liked best. It was to him that she turns for solace once the family went into hiding. Sometimes when she was scared by the bombing during the night, she would climb in bed beside her father, who would calm her down and reassure her. Frank was truly a wise man and a loving father and husband.
Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan
Mr. Van Daan was a former business associate of Otto Frank. He, his wife, and his son Peter join the Franks in the secret annex. Although Mr. Daan was not well developed in the diary, Anne did indicate that he was a chain smoker. As long as he had cigarettes, he was a quiet and calm man, but without them, he grew cranky. He forced Mrs. Van Daan to sell her fur coat to support his smoking habit.
Anne described Mrs. Van Daan as a quarrelsome and irritating woman. She was always picking a fight with someone, especially her husband. She also constantly criticized Anne's behavior, indicating she had been improperly raised. Although all of the Franks found her troublesome and lazy, they could do nothing about her.
Neither Mr. Daan nor his wife was a good parent. They never knew how to properly handle Peter's disobedience. When he read a book not meant for him, Mr. Van Daan grew furious and beat Peter, an action that made the Franks even more uncomfortable.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan were captured by the Gestapo and died at Auschwitz.
Peter Van Daan
Peter is the fifteen-year-old son of the Van Daans. When he arrives at the secret annex with his parents, Anne judges him to be shy and awkward. Although he is attractive, with blue eyes and dark, curly hair, she thinks he will never be good company for her. During the two years that they stay in the attic, they become very good friends. When her parents scold her for spending too much time with him, she stands up to them, refusing to change her behavior, for when she is with Peter she has a bit of happiness amidst her misery. When Anne receives her first kiss from him, she is delighted. By the time they are captured, Anne realizes that she is in love with Peter.
When Peter and Anne are captured by the Gestapo and sent to Westerbork, it is reported that they are constantly together. At Auschwitz, however, the pair is permanently separated. In January of 1945, Peter had to leave the Auschwitz camp with the SS guards. Otto Frank tried to persuade the boy to stay back, but Peter was too afraid. Although he did not survive the war, it is not certain where he died.