On This Day in History Promo
On this day: March 1945
On This Day in History Promo
Anne Frank and her sister, Margot, are at Bergen-Belsen. They were deported from Auschwitz at the end of October, 1944. Their mother, Edith, died in January but their father, Otto, is in the infirmary at Auschwitz. The sisters do not know he is alive.
At Bergen-Belsen, Anne is briefly reunited with two friends, Hanneli Goslar and Nanette Blitz, who are confined in another section of the camp. (Goslar and Blitz both survive the war and later discuss the brief conversations they conducted with Anne through a fence. Blitz describes her as bald, emaciated, and shivering. Goslar noted Auguste van Pels is with Anne and Margot Frank, and is caring for Margot, who is severely ill. Neither of them sees Margot, as she is too weak to leave her bunk. Anne tells both Blitz and Goslar she believes her parents are dead, and for that reason she does not wish to live any longer. Goslar later estimates their meetings took place in late January or early February 1945.)
Conditions at Bergen-Belsen are terrible. Through late 1944 and early 1945, as the Allied and Soviet forces continue to advance into Germany, Bergen-Belsen became a collection camp for thousands of prisoners evacuated from camps closer to the front. This influx of prisoners overwhelms and overcrowds the already weak resources of the camp complex. Some prisoners go days without food. Fresh water is hard to come by. Inadequate sanitation continues to deteriorate.
As the population rises and conditions worsen, disease begins to spread rapidly and the death toll in turn rises. Outbreaks of tuberculosis, typhoid fever, dysentery, and typhus cause tens of thousands of prisoners to die in just the first few months of 1945.
Anne and Margot are among those who become sick with typhus.
The Frank sisters die just weeks before the camp is liberated by British troops on April 15, 1945. The exact dates of their deaths are unknown.
Anne was sick, too, but she stayed on her feet until Margot died; only then did she give in to her illness…
First, Margot had fallen out of bed onto the stone floor. She couldn’t get up anymore. Anne died a day later. We had lost all sense of time. It is possible that Anne lived a day longer."
-- Janny Brandes-Brilleslijper
Otto Frank will live at Auschwitz through liberation. Of the eight total inhabitants of the Secret Annex, he will be the only survivor. He will not learn that his daughters died until October 24, 1945.
Sources and Related Links
The fate of the women in the Secret Annex
The fate of the men in the Secret Annex
Holocaust Encyclopedia: Bergen-Belsen
ID Card/Oral History: Bergen-Belsen
Maps of Major Camps and Bergen-Belsen
Historical Film Footage: Begen-Belsen
Anne Frank: The Biography by Melissa Müller
The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank by Willy Lindwer