"The Diary of Anne Frank" is one of the most important books written during World War II. It tells the story of a young girl and her family as they spend two years in hiding from the Nazis who occupied the Netherlands during most of the war.
Anne Frank is in many ways a very typical 13 year old girl when she begins her diary. She is also very intelligent and a good writer. The thing that may strike the reader is her optimism in the face of a very brutal and depressing existence. For Anne, writing helped her overcome the days in hiding which were marked by long stretches of boredom interrupted only by fear in the thought of being captured. She wrote in her diary virtually every day until the family's capture in August of 1944. Her and her sister Margot died from typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 only a few weeks before the camp was liberated by the Allies.
In the play, Otto Frank returns to the annex. While this probably never happened in real life it serves as a way to introduce Anne's diary as Miep Gies gives it to Otto and he begins reading. Otto was the only one of his family to survive the concentration camps.
The Franks and Van Daans go into hiding after they receive word that the Nazis are rounding up the Jews in the Netherlands and sending them to work camps in Germany. "Work" camp was just a polite way of saying concentration camp. The "secret annex" was located in the back of Frank's business.
In Scene 3, the elderly dentist Mr. Dussel comes to live in the annex with the Franks and Van Daans. From the very beginning Anne and Mr. Dussel do not get along and Anne is quite harsh in her description of him. It must have been difficult for her to share such a small space with an older man who had little tolerance for children.