Anne Frank : The Biography

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9780805059960: Anne Frank : The Biography

With an Epilogue by Miep Giess

The first biography of the girl whose fate has touched the lives of millions. For people all over the world, Anne Frank, the vivacious, intelligent Jewish girl with a crooked smile and huge dark eyes, has become the "human face of the Holocaust." Her diary of twenty-five months in hiding, a precious record of her struggle to keep hope alive through the darkest days of this century, has touched the hearts of millions. Here, after five decades, is the first biography of this remarkable figure. Drawing on exclusive interviews with family and friends, on previously unavailable correspondence, and on documents long kept secret, Melissa Muller creates a nuanced portrait of her famous subject. This is the flesh-and-blood Anne Frank, unsentimentalized and so all the more affecting--Anne Frank restored to history. Muller traces Frank's life from an idyllic childhood in an assimilated family well established in Frankfurt banking circles to her passionate adolescence in German-occupied Amsterdam and her desperate in Bergen Belsen at the age of sixteen. Full of revelations, this richly textured biography casts new light on Anne's relations with her mother, whom she treats harshly in the diary, and solves an enduring mystery: who betrayed the families hiding in the annex just when liberation was at hand? This is an indispensable volume for all those who seek a deeper, richer understanding of Anne Frank and the brutal times in which she lived and died.

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Review:

One of this book's great strengths is writer Melissa Müller's ability to situate Anne Frank's famous diary within a larger historical and biographical context--more than half of it covers the years before the Franks went into hiding. Equally important is her discovery of the existence of five pages Otto Frank removed from his daughter's original diary and entrusted shortly before his death to Cor Sujik, international director of New York's Anne Frank Center. Sujik showed these pages to Müller, who accurately notes in the biography that they "enhance our understanding of the diary's author."

Until now, readers have known the eight people sequestered in the secret annex through Anne's eyes only. Müller reveals everyone's correct names (they were changed for the diary's publication) and tactfully corrects a teenager's skewed perceptions when necessary, always reminding us of the claustrophobic closeness and material deprivation that sometimes fueled Anne's uncharitable comments about, for example, the middle-aged dentist with whom she was forced to share a room. Müller also plausibly identifies the Dutch informant who betrayed the secret annex's inhabitants to the Gestapo. Horror suffuses Müller's grim recap of the Franks' ordeal at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, though there is some comfort in survivors' reports that Anne, her mother, and her older sister formed "an inseparable trio," all former quarrels forgotten in their fierce struggle to save each other. They failed, and Müller does not gloss over that tragedy. But she reminds us that, "In the end, the Nazi terror could not silence Anne's voice, which still rings out for all of us."

About the Author:

Melissa Muller is a journalist who has written extensively on childhood. She lives in Munich and Vienna.

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Müller, Melissa
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