The Diary of a Young Girl Analysis
by Anne Frank

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Historical Context

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Hitler's Rise to Power
Frank and the others were in hiding from June 1942 to August 1944. World War II lasted from 1939 to 1945, involving the United States, Japan, and most of Europe, including Russia. While the causes of the war are complex, historians agree that without Adolf Hitler's regime there would have been no World War II at that time.

Following World War I, Hitler began to develop his idea of a ‘‘Master Aryan Race.’’ This vision included enlarging Germany by overtaking neighboring countries. The National Socialist Party, or Nazis, believed in a totalitarian government that would, in theory, fairly distribute wealth and provide full employment.

Faced with economic hardship and political uncertainty, Germans were responsive to Hitler's impassioned speechmaking. Hitler maintained that radicals and Jews were to blame for Germany's problems, adding that the Aryan race was naturally superior and, thus, destined to rule the world. In 1933, Hitler became the chancellor of Germany, and, contrary to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (which ended World War I), Hitler began to build his military. Because these efforts went unchallenged by other European countries, Hitler's war machine was soon well-armed. This re-armament created jobs, restored the economy, and stoked national pride, which increased public acceptance of Hitler.

Armed with a strong military, Hitler invaded Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and set his sights on Poland after France and Britain declared war on Germany. The Allies, however, had not been strengthening their militaries, so they were no match for Hitler's forces. In 1939 and 1940, Hitler invaded Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France. In 1941, he broke his pact with Stalin and invaded Russia.

Hitler's social design involved banning all other political parties, censoring publications that were not pro-Nazi, and forbidding interaction between Jews and Aryans. Increasingly restrictive measures against Jews followed: they were forbidden to hold public office, teach, practice law or medicine, work in the press, or run businesses; property was seized, fines were imposed, and emigration was stifled. The Nazis were able to secure lists of all Jews in any area, so they forced them to wear identifying yellow stars. These measures were the reason that Mr. Frank moved his family to Holland when Hitler came to power in 1933. Hitler's anti-Semitism was absolute, and the Nazis engaged in the systematic killing of "undesirable" and "inferior" segments of the population that included not only Jews, but also "gypsies" (Romany), the mentally retarded and disturbed, and homosexuals. The Nazis viewed these groups as subhuman and often made them work under harsh conditions before killing them, so that the regime could capitalize on their labor. When defeat of the Nazis was imminent, they continued to kill as many prisoners as possible before the Allies could liberate their camps. At the end of the war, six million Jews had been killed, a number representing two-thirds of the world's Jewish population at the time.

German Occupation of Holland
Hitler's regime invaded Holland on May 10, 1940. Planes riddled the Dutch countryside with bombs, and after five days of fighting, the Dutch were forced to surrender. Initially, there were few signs that Holland would be subject to the same social policies instituted in Germany, but it was not long before it became clear that there would be no more tolerance for Jews in Holland than there was in Germany. Mr. Frank, therefore, began making plans for a secret apartment in the warehouse where he worked. He felt certain that he and his family would have to go into hiding, so he formed a network of trustworthy people to help.

The treatment endured by Jews in Holland was similar to that in Germany. Dutch Jews were forced to wear yellow stars and to carry identity cards marked with the letter J. They were not allowed to visit Christians, they had to be indoors after 8 p.m., they...

(The entire section is 5,603 words.)