Edith Frank

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Edith Frank
Edith Frank.jpg
Born Edith Holländer
(1900-01-16)16 January 1900
Aachen, Prussia, German Empire
Died 6 January 1945(1945-01-06) (aged 44)
Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland
Cause of death Starvation
Nationality German
Other names Abel
Education bachelor
Known for wife of Otto, and mother of Margot and Anne Frank
Home town Aargen, Germany
Spouse(s) Otto Frank (1925–1945; her death)
Children Margot Frank (1926–1945)
Anne Frank (1929–1945)
Parent(s) Abraham Holländer (1860–1928; father)
Rosa (Stern) Holländer (1866–1942; mother)

Edith Frank (née Holländer; 16 January 1900 – 6 January 1945) was the mother of Holocaust diarist Anne Frank, the daughter-in-law of Alice Betty (nee Stern) Frank and Michael Frank, the sister-in-law of Robert, Herbert, and Helene Frank. She died from starvation at the age of 44, ten days before her 45th birthday.


Early life[edit]

Edith was the youngest of four children, having been born into a German Jewish family in Aachen, Germany. Her father, Abraham Holländer (1860–1928) was a successful businessman in industrial equipment and was prominent in the Aachen Jewish community as was her mother, Rosa Stern (1866–1942). Her occupation is unknown. Edith had two older brothers, Julius and Walter, and an older sister, Bettina. Bettina died at the age of 16 due to appendicitis when Edith was just 14.[1] Both Julius and Walter made it to the United States, surviving afterwards.


She met Otto Frank in 1924 and they married on his 36th birthday, 12 May 1925, at Aachen's synagogue. They had two daughters born in Frankfurt, Margot, born 16 February 1926, followed by Anne, born 12 June 1929.


The rise of Antisemitism and the introduction of discriminatory laws in Germany forced the family to emigrate to Amsterdam in 1933, where Otto established a branch of his spice and pectin distribution company. Her older brothers Walter (1897–1968) and Julius (1894–1967) escaped to the United States in 1938, and Rosa Holländer-Stern left Aachen in 1939 to join the Frank family in Amsterdam.

Persecution and death[edit]

A Stolperstein for Frank at the Pastorplatz in Aachen, Germany

In 1940 the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and began their persecution of the country's Jews. Edith's children were removed from their schools, and her husband had to resign his business to his Dutch colleagues Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, who helped the family when they went into hiding at the company premises in 1942.

The two-year period the Frank family spent in hiding with four other people (their neighbours Hermann van Pels, his wife Auguste Van Pels and his son Peter Van Pels, and Miep Gies's dentist Fritz Pfeffer) was famously chronicled in Anne Frank's posthumously published diary, which ended three days before they were anonymously betrayed and arrested on 4 August 1944. After detainment in the Gestapo headquarters on the Euterpestraat and three days in prison on the Amstelveenweg, Edith and those with whom she had been in hiding were transported to the Westerbork concentration camp. From there, they were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp on 3 September 1944, the last train to be dispatched from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

Edith and her daughters were separated from Otto upon arrival and they never saw him again. On 30 October another selection separated Edith from Anne and Margot. Edith was selected for the gas chambers, and her daughters were transported to Bergen-Belsen. Edith escaped with a friend to another section of the camp, where she remained through the winter. While here she hid each scrap of food she would get and saved it for her daughters. Because of her refusal to eat any of the food she was saving for her daughters she died from starvation on January 6, 1945, three weeks before the Red Army liberated the camp and 10 days before her 45th birthday. Her daughters outlived her by one month.[2]


When Otto Frank decided to edit his daughter's diary for publication, he was sure that his wife had come in for particular criticism because of her often disagreeable relationship with Anne, and cut some of the more heated comments out of respect for his wife and other residents of the Secret Annex. Nevertheless, Anne's portrait of an unsympathetic and sarcastic mother was duplicated in the dramatizations of the book, which was countered by the memories of those who had known her as a modest, distant woman who tried to treat her adolescent children as her equals.

In 1999, the discovery of previously unknown pages excised by Otto showed that Anne had discerned that although Edith very much loved Otto, Otto—though very devoted to Edith—was not in love with her, and this understanding was leading Anne to develop a new sense of empathy for her mother's situation. By the time Edith and her daughters were in Auschwitz, Bloeme Evers-Emden, an Auschwitz survivor interviewed by Willy Lindwer in The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank (page 129), observed that "they were always together, mother and daughters. It is certain that they gave each other a great deal of support. All the things a teenager might think of her mother were no longer of any significance".

After their arrest and transfer to camp Westerbork the relations between Anne to her mother improved as can be seen from a letter sent from Otto Frank to his cousin Milly on 16 November 1945.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Diary of Anne Frank: The Revised Critical Edition, Anne Frank, edited by David Barnouw and Gerrold Van der Stroom, translated by Arnold J. Pomerans, compiled by H. J. J. Hardy, second edition, Doubleday, 2003.
  • Anne Frank Remembered, Miep Gies with Alison Leslie Gold, Simon and Schuster, 1988.
  • Roses from the Earth: the Biography of Anne Frank, Carol Ann Lee, Penguin, 1999.
  • Anne Frank: the Biography, Melissa Muller, afterword by Miep Gies, Bloomsbury 1999.
  • The Footsteps of Anne Frank, Ernst Schnabel, Pan, 1988.
  • The Hidden Life of Otto Frank, Carol Ann Lee, Penguin, 2002.
  • The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank, Willy Lindwer, Pantheon, 1991.


External links[edit]