August 04, 2014

70th Anniversary: Arrest of the Occupants of the Secret Annex

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the arrest of the occupants of the Secret Annex. 

August 4, 1944

It is a sunny day in Amsterdam.

There are eight people hiding in an apartment tucked away from view of the street behind a warehouse and business office in Amsterdam: Otto Frank, his wife Edith, his daughters Margot and AnneHermann van Pels, his wife Auguste and his son Peter; Fitz Pfeffer.

They have been hiding in the apartment- the Secret Annex - for two years. Four of Otto's employees have been helping them by providing food, clothing, news, and occasionally some company. In doing so, Miep Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, and Bep Voskuiji are risking their lives. 

Julius Deetman, the officer in charge of the German Security Service in Amsterdam, dispatches SS-Oberscharführer Karl Silberbauer to 263 Prinsengracht. He is accompanied by two or three Dutch policemen. They arrive around 10:30am.

They enter the building through the ground floor warehouse where the warehouseman, Van Maaren, directs them towards the stairs that lead up to the offices. 

They enter the office where the four employees that are helping hide the occupants of the annex are working. Silberbauer, pistol in hand, orders Victor Kugler to show them where the Jews are hiding. 

They enter the annex through the bookcase door. This is what the occupants of the annex have feared most. They have been discovered. Before they are rounded up and escorted out of hiding, they are ordered to hand over all their valuables. In the process, Silberbauer opens Otto's briefcase and dumps the contents onto the floor. Anne's diary and pages of her writing fall out and scatter at his feet. 

When the raid is complete, the eight occupants, plus Kugler and Jo Kleiman are arrested. They are taken to a German controlled prison where they are kept for interrogation for four days.

Sometime later, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl return to the annex and collect Anne's diary. Miep wants to keep it safe because she knows Anne will want it back when she returns. She does not know that only Otto will survive.

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