On this day: February 1945

The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust's educational series "On this day..." provides summaries of historical events as the anniversaries fall on the current calendar. Be sure to follow along on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates and further information like photos, maps, and videos.

Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945
 
 

February 1-5

Hanneli Goslar, a friend of Anne’s from Amsterdam, is told by an acquaintance that a girl she knows is in another part of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at which she is interned. Hanneli is in the Sternlager, or ‘Star Camp’, where the prisoners wear their own clothes but are marked with a Star of David. Inmates in this part of Bergen-Belsen have papers that mark them as eligible in prisoner exchanges for German nationals interned by the Allies or for foreign currency. However, little comes of the exchange program. 

Hanneli has been here since early 1944 with her younger sister, her father, and her maternal grandparents. In the Sternlager, families can stay together and keep their luggage. 

Hanneli meets Anne at the barbed wire fence separating them from their assigned sections. Anne is in the tent camp where conditions are horrific and disease is spreading rapidly. She is thin. Her head is shaved and she looks very ill. She tells her friend that she believes her parents have already died. Hanneli manages to throw over a package sent to her grandmother by the Red Cross. Two or three days later, she throws over another package.

Conditions at Bergen-Belsen are terrible. It is overcrowded and the unsanitary conditions, lack of food, water, and shelter leads to an outbreak of diseases like typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and dysentary. In the first few months of 1945, tens of thousands of prisoners die.

February 6-7

Auguste van Pels, who was among those arrested while hiding in the Secret Annex, is transported from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. She is separated from sisters Anne and Margot Frank, with whom she had been reunited two months earlier after being transported from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen. For a time, Auguste helped care for the girls as a mother but now, the sisters once again have only each other.

February 25

Hanneli’s father dies at Bergen-Belsen and she does not go out for a few days. When she finally does return to the fence, Anne is nowhere to be found. She never sees Anne again.

Margot and Anne die from typhus just days apart from each other. While the exact dates of their deaths are unknown, both girls most likely die between February 7 and February 25. Typhus is fatal in 40-60% of cases around 12 days after the first symptoms appear. Eyewitness testimonies beginning in January 1945 attest to signs of typhus in both Anne and Margot. The Dutch Red Cross official death certificate for the girls is dated March 31, 1945. It was standard practice to use the last date of the month for unknown dates. Due to the progression of typhus and eyewitness accounts, it is unlikely the girls are still alive in March.


Sources & Related Links

Sources for the death date of Anne and Margot

Research Article: One day they simply weren't there

Auguste van Pels

March 2015: New research sheds light on Anne Frank's last months

Bergen-Belsen: Camp Complex

Map: Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, 1944

Bergen-Belsen

On This Day