While I learned about the Holocaust and World War II in school, for some reason I never got around to reading Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl until this summer in preparation for a trip to the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. I know that’s not typical light summer reading material, but I’ve always struggled with trying to understand what could lead people to do something so terrible as try to destroy an entire race of people, as the Nazis attempted during the Holocaust. I really enjoyed the audio version read by Selma Blair, which gave an engaging account of life in The Secret Annex. In fact I found myself so engrossed in the story, I wanted to know what happened next, besides the basics of who lived and who died after the Nazi discovered their secret hiding place.
Luckily, I quickly discovered I was not the only one who felt this way, and many of those who knew Anne Frank and were fortunate enough to survive have written about their part in Anne’s story and what happened after the war.
Miep Gies, who was one of the chief helpers for those hiding in The Secret Annex, wrote about the challenges of living in hiding, including the day the residents of the annex were captured by the Nazis, in Anne Frank Remembered.
One of Anne’s best friends before she went into hiding, Jacqueline van Maarsen became a writer herself and many of her books are about her friendship with Anne and surviving the Nazis, including My Name Is Anne, She Said, Anne Frank. Van Maarsen was one of many people who thought Anne’s family had escaped to Switzerland and only learned the truth after the war.
Theo Coster (known to Anne as Maurice) was another classmate of Anne’s at the Jewish Lyceum. He survived the war by hiding in plain sight with a Christian family and forged papers that hid his Jewish heritage. A few years ago, he created a documentary with Anne’s other surviving classmates, including one who reunited with Anne shortly before her death, and wrote a book about the experience called We All Wore Stars.
And, finally, to learn more about the life of Anne’s diary, you can read Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose, which chronicles Anne’s revisions, the obstacles her father faced in publishing the book, it’s reception, and the numerous stage and film adaptations of the Frank family’s years in hiding.
When you’re done exploring our books on Anne Frank, you can learn more about The Secret Annex online and even take a virtual tour of the space eight people spent two years hiding in.