This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What is known about Anne Frank’s family? How does she describe her relationship with them in her diary?
Anne Frank’s family consisted of herself, her parents (Edith and Otto Frank), and her older sister Margot. Anne was particularly close with her father, but had a more complicated relationship with her mother and sister.
Read about Anne Frank’s family and their life in the Secret Annex.
What Is Known of Anne Frank’s Family?
Anne was the daughter of Otto and Edith Frank and had a 15-year old sister named Margot. Anne was born in 1929 and lived in Frankfurt, Germany until she was four. As anti-Semitism grew in Germany, Anne Frank’s family moved to Holland to escape persecution.
In 1940, the Germans invaded the Netherlands and implemented strict anti-Jewish restrictions. But despite these restrictions, the Franks lived a relatively normal life until Anne’s sister Margot received a call-up from the SS, a Nazi paramilitary force. Receiving a call-up almost always meant being sent to a concentration camp.
In July 1942, Anne Frank’s family went into hiding in an attic attachment of her father’s business premises, which became known as the Secret Annex.
Dynamics in the Secret Annex
Six months into living in the Annex, tensions began to spike within the household. As their time in isolation continued, the Franks fought more frequently. Anne longed for her father’s approval and became more critical of her mother’s behavior. She respected her father and wanted him to respect her back. He was the one to whom she turned for support when she had issues with the other residents of the Annex. She believed that he understood her, even if he felt obligated to side with the adults on certain matters. She couldn’t envision a world without him and loved him more than she loved her mother.
As for her mother, Edith Frank, she was one person Anne constantly found herself in conflict with. She believed that her mother didn’t understand her and thought that she went out of her way to shame her. Anne’s mother would often tell her that she was foolish and arrogant. She’d also tell her that she should behave like her sister, Margot. However, Anne knew that she wasn’t anything like her sister, nor did she want to be. She thought Margot was too timid and weak-willed. Anne wanted to be outspoken, not passive.
Anne was jealous of the relationship Margot had with their parents because they treated Margot like an adult while they treated Anne like a child. This led to more frequent fights with Margot, whom she didn’t often clash with prior to their time in the Annex. Her insecurities rose to the surface in many of these fights, and she began to blame herself for the arguments.
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Diary of a Young Girl summary:
- What Nazi occupation looked like from the perspective of a young Jewish girl
- How Anne Frank had some normal teenage experiences while in hiding
- How the hidden residents coped with the stress