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Reading glasses - The other Frank girl : Anne's older sister Margot

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

On August 4th 1944 The Frank family is discovered by the Gestapo, it is unclear who betrayed the family or if they were discovered by accident after the premises was searched for fake ration cards.

The Frank family had moved to Holland from German to escape the Nazis in 1933.

Anne started writing her now internationally famous diary on her 13th birthday just one month before the family went into hiding in an annexe to a canal side warehouse in Amsterdam in 1942 after Margot, Anne's older sister, received a summons to a work camp.

Anne's older sister Margot is often in the shadow of her younger sister, portrayed as the better behaved, reserved foil to Anne. We have tantalising fragments of Margot's thoughts in letters she exchanged with her sister. Earlier in 2020 new photos were donated to the Anne Frank museum giving us a glimpse into the life of Margot, as an outgoing enthusiastic athlete enjoying the sunshine during a break with her team mates.

Margot Frank (right) with her Amsterdam rowing team in 1941; photo altered to spotlight Margot (photo: Roos van Gelder, from The Anne Frank House)
Margot Frank with her team mates

Teresien da Silva is Head of Collections at The Anne Frank House and explains the museum have photos of Margot on skis, ice skates, playing tennis and these latest photos with her rowing club. She is clearly not the only the studious, reserved book worm that Anne depicts her as in her writings. Margot was a fondly remembered as a virtuous and intelligent young lady and excelled in scholarly pursuits. She is often described as reserved and obedient.

Anne describes instances of her mother suggesting Anne emulates the character and behaviour of her sister. It seems Margot inherited her mother's passion for her faith, attending Synagogue and learning Hebrew. Anne was clearly more closely aligned with her father and his relative secularism.

After 25 months of confinement in the Amsterdam warehouse, they were discovered. The family were detained in Amsterdam before transfer to Dutch transit camp Westerbork. They would be transported to Auschwitz and separated in September 1944. Otto would never see his family again yet managed to survive the horrendous conditions until Soviet rescue. Edith, mother of Margot and Anne, kept the girls close at all times until she was selected for the gas chambers and her daughters transferred. Edith escaped extermination and spent the winter collecting food for her daughters for when they would be reunited. Refusing to break into these carefully collected provisions she died of starvation on January 6th 1945, just three weeks before liberation by the Red Army. Anne and her sister died of Typhus in Bergen-Belsen camp in February 1945, two months before the British liberated the camp.

Otto Frank, their father, was the only member of the group in hiding to survive the camps. When he returned to Amsterdam he was handed his daughter's diary by Miep Gies, one of the people who had protected the Frank family and provided food. She only avoided arrest for the crime of aiding the family because the police officer recognised her accent as Austrian as he was. She retrieved Anne's diary and papers after the arrest, with the hope of returning them to the girl. She never read the diary and if she had, she probably would have destroyed it as it named all those who assisted the family and the black market operators. Otto Frank published the diary in 1947.

Anne makes reference to the fact that Margot also kept a diary, but no trace of it has ever been found. There have been fictional versions of this lost diary. Letters written to American pen pals by both sisters were also published in 2003.

Further Reading:

Amazon Anne Frank list

Recommended Titles:

Anne Frank, The Collected Works from Bloomsbury

Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family by Miep Gies

Holocaust Memoirs of a Bergen-Belsen Survivor & Classmate of Anne Frank by Nanette Blitz Konig

The Silent Sister : The diary of Margot Frank by Mazal Alouf-Mizrahi

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