It was 75 years ago — on June 12, 1942 — that Anne Frank received a diary for her 13th birthday.
Within a few years, she would have died in a concentration camp, but her diary survived. The following is an excerpt from LIFE’s new special edition, Anne Frank: The Diary at 70, available in the TIME Shop, on Amazon and at retailers everywhere.
During the years of the Holocaust, the Nazis systematically murdered six million Jews, as well as five million Roma, Sinti, priests, nuns, people with disabilities, homosexuals, and political prisoners. The killing took place throughout Europe in more than 40,000 concentration, labor, prisoner of war, and internment camps, as well as by the Einsatzgruppen, mobile killing squads, which machine-gunned entire communities or shoved residents into gas-asphyxiation vans.
Otto Frank was one of them, having been spared because he had been placed in the sick barracks before the Russian army liberated the camp on January 27, 1945.
When the nearly six foot tall Otto left Poland, he weighed less than 115 pounds.
He knew that Edith had died, but he was determined to make his way back to Amsterdam.
“All my hope is the children,” he wrote to his mother in Switzerland. “I cling to the conviction that they are alive and that we will be together again.”
Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank 12 June 1929 – February or March 1945 was a German-born Dutch-Jewish diarist.
One of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, she gained fame posthumously with the publication of The Diary of a Young Girl (originally Het Achterhuis in Dutch; English: The Secret Annex), in which she documents her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.
It is one of the world’s best known books and has been the basis for several plays and films.
Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she lived most of her life in or near Amsterdam, Netherlands, having moved there with her family at the age of four and a half when the Nazis gained control over Germany.
Born a German national, she lost her citizenship in 1941 and thus became stateless. By May 1940, the Franks were trapped in Amsterdam by the German occupation of the Netherlands.
As persecutions of the Jewish population increased in July 1942, the Franks went into hiding in some concealed rooms behind a bookcase in the building where Anne’s father, Otto Frank, worked.
From then until the family’s arrest by the Gestapo in August 1944, she kept a diary she had received as a birthday present, and wrote in it regularly.
Following their arrest, the Franks were transported to concentration camps. In October or November 1944, Anne and her sister, Margot, were transferred from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they died (probably of typhus) a few months later.
They were originally estimated by the Red Cross to have died in March, with Dutch authorities setting 31 March as their official date of death, but research by the Anne Frank House in 2015 suggests they more likely died in February.
Anne Frank kept a diary from June 12th, 1942 to August 1st, 1944. During this time, her family was sequestered in a secret annex made up of a few small attic rooms located at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. These rooms were in the same building as Otto Frank’s business, which continued to operate in his absence.
Since the building was in use during the daytime hours, the hiders had to be very still and quiet so that they would not be discovered. Though they were unable to move about freely, they were not entirely cut off from the outside world.
They had non-Jewish helpers who brought supplies and information on a regular basis. During the night, when the building was empty, they could also listen to the radio in the office.
Through radio broadcasts from Great Britain, the Franks were able to stay informed about the progress of the war.
She died aged 15 in a concentration camp, but her diary survived to tell the story that has shaped the world’s image of the Holocaust.
On what would have been her 80th birthday, Anne Frank is remembered around the world.