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I can remember the first time I knew of
Otto Frank's idea for the Secret Annex. Otto had been paying attention
to the Nazis for quite some time, and had noted their strong desire towards
the expansion of Nazi rule. I myself must admit that I knew nothing
of the terror we were about to face. Soon Jews were wearing Yellow
stars on their chests, not allowed into public places, not allowed to associate
with non-Jews, and finally being deported to "work camps". Since
Otto and his family were Jewish, I began worrying about their safety.
I had worked for Otto at the Dutch Opetka Company in Amsterdam for quite
some time, and in that time, we had become close friends and I admired
Otto for his wit, and love for his family. I believe that during
my worrying, Otto had been secretly making plans for his family to move
into the hidden apartment above the company offices. He continued
to prepare the annex for over a year, until finally the Frank family had
it's first encounter with a deportation scare. Otto's two daughters
Margot and Anne were his pride and joy, so naturally when Margot received
a deportation notice on July 5, 1942, Otto told the family of the "Secret
Annex" he had been preparing for over a year. In addition to his
wife Edith, Margot, and Anne, he also told me; Miep Gies. I was astounded
by this plan, for it consisted of absolute seclusion from the outside world,
and complete silence during business hours. I knew Anne and Margot
would have to miss a great deal of school, social gatherings, and the normal
events that teenaged girls attend. I knew Anne in particular would
not be happy about the move, because of her love for movie stars, boys,
and friends which she would not be able to indulge while living in closed
quarters. I was relieved however to learn that not only I would have
the knowledge of this plan, but Otto's business partners Victor Kugler,Johannes
Kleiman, friend Bep Voskuisl, and her father would also help with the tedious
task of concealing a family from police, and the rest of the world.
Bep, Victor, Johannes, and I would have the great task of operating the
business with an absence of our employer, hiding a family, pretending to
know nothing of the Frank's whereabouts, and bringing the Franks clothes,
food, literature, news, and hope. I knew my role was of great importance
to the family, I would serve as the messenger, and would visit daily to
tell of recent war developments and bring extra treats to the family.
Some of my fondest memories are of Anne's smiling face, when she saw me
enter the annex with outstretched arms eager to embrace her.
Before the Franks would move into the Secret
Annex, they would leave a false trail behind which implied that they had
gone to Switzerland. This trail would lead Nazi officials elsewhere,
so that the Franks would be able to move in to the Annex quickly and carefully.
Finally on July 6, 1942 the Frank family would leave their comfortable
home, friends, and lives, for The annex, which would hold them for over
two years. Soon Otto's friend and business associate Hermann Van
Daan, his wife, and son Peter would join the Franks in the Secret Annex.
This would make the living arrangements a bit cramped for the Franks.
I was aware of Mrs. Van Daan's low tolerance for nonsense, and since I
knew Anne so well, I was certain that the two quite possibly would have
many quarrels. I tried to help Anne and Margot's adjusting
process by bringing magazines, books, and news of the war going on outside.
Anne even confided to me of her secret blooming romance with Peter Van
Daan, who was a bit older than Anne. However the romance did not
have much of a chance, since the Annex was small and there was not much
room for privacy. For the secret annex now held a new occupant; my
dentist Fritz Pfeffer arrived to share the hideaway. This would prove
to be another problem to the Families, since in addition to Anne's disagreements
with Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, she would soon have to share a room with Pfeffer,
and the two would bicker day in and day out. But worse than that
I began to notice a great change in Mrs. Frank. She had always held
a great hope inside her, and always looked for the bright side of things,
but the confining quarters had finally gotten to her, because she
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Women in World War II, Jewish refugees, Anne Frank, Stateless people, Miep Gies, Otto Frank, Fritz Pfeffer, Victor Kugler, Secret Annex, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
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