The unwritten chapter of Anne Frank | Sunday Observer

The unwritten chapter of Anne Frank

26 September, 2021

The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank

Author – Willy Lindwer

Translator – Alison Meersschaert

Publisher – Young Picador

Anne Frank is the best known symbol of the six million Jews murdered in the Second World War. Her diary which was written between June 12, 1942 and August 1, 1944 became one of the most authentic war documents. Though, there are hundreds of books written on Anne Frank, only a few books were published on her life after her arrest. The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank exclusively reveals this ‘unwritten’final chapter of Anne Frank describing her tragic death through the testimony of six Jewish women who survived the hell.


The book starts with a preface, introduction and historical overview, all written by the author himself. In the preface, he elaborates how the book came about. In fact, it was composed based on interviews done by him for a film documentary titled The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank – it was televised in the Netherlands and in many other countries. The author, Willy Lindwer, thought to launch a book on Anne’s closed chapter after completing the documentary, because he was left with so much additional information about Anne’s life. The six chapters in the book embody experiences of six women who shared same concentration camps with Anne Frank and Margot Frank (elder sister of Anne).

The first chapter presents the story of Hannah Elisabeth Pick – Goslar on Anne Frank – Hannah was nicknamed by Anne as ‘Lies Goosens’ in the diary. Hannah had been one of the classmates and close friends of Anne from the time they started schooling. Both the families also came from Germany and lived in close neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The two girls also slept over at each other’s houses together. The extraordinary thing about their relationship was that they met each other when both girls were at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Hannah describes dramatically this final encounter with Anne:

“Anne came to the barbed-wire fence – I couldn’t see her. The fence and the straw were between us. There wasn’t much light. Maybe I saw her shadow. It wasn’t the same Anne. She was a broken girl. I probably was, too, but it was so terrible. She immediately began to cry, and she told me, ‘I don’t have any parents anymore.’” (Page 27)

Hannah further recounts how she was able to give away a small package of food to Anne.

The second chapter is the story of Janny Brandes-Brilleslijper on Anne. Janny was a member of the resistant movement against the Nazis. Her relationship with Anne and the Frank family began on August 8, 1944. She kept in touch with Anne and Margot in Bergen-Belsen right up to the end in March 1945. She had followed a course in first aid before the war and thanks to it she was able to nurse the sick people including Anne and Margot in Bergen-Belsen. In 1946, after surviving Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, Janny wrote to Otto Frank, Anne’s father, to notify him of the death of his daughters. This is how she recalls how she aided Anne and Margot after the two had typhus:

“Anne was sick, too, but she stayed on her feet until Margot died; only then did she give in to her illness. Like so many others, as soon as you lose your courage and your self-control….

“We did what we could, but there was no question of real nursing. The nursing only consisted of giving the sick some water to drink and, if you had the chance, washing them off a little….” (Page 73)

There is a 48 page-long description by Janny on Anne Frank in the book.

The third chapter was narrated by Rachel Van Amerongen-Frankfoorder who shared the same barracks with Anne and Margot in Bergen-Belsen. Her first contact with Otto and Anne Frank began when they were in the Westerbork camp. This is what she reveals about the Frank girls:

“I saw Anne and her sister Margot again in the barracks. Her parents weren’t there. You didn’t ask about that because you actually knew…. given your own experience with parents, brothers, and so forth. Yes, you had a suspicion, but no more than that. The Frank girls were almost unrecognizable since their hair had been cut off. They were much balder than we were; how that could be, I don’t know. And they were cold, just like all the rest of us.” (Page 103)

Anne and Margot

Rachel further describes Anne and Margot:

“The Frank girls were so emaciated. They looked terrible. They had little squabbles, caused by their illness, because it was clear that they had typhus.” (Page 104)

The fourth chapter deals with the story of Bloeme Evers-Emden who shared the same camps with the Frank girls. Bloeme, first, got to know Anne and Margot when they were in the Jewish Lyceum, a preparatory school designed for Jewish Children in 1941.

“In Westerbork, the first family I met was the Frank family whom I had known from school. We exchanged stories of some of our experiences of being in hiding. Afterward, we saw each other regularly. I think – although I don’t know it for certain any more – that I saw Margot at the tables where we worked on the batteries. We all wore the same overalls. Especially when we worked on the batteries; that was such filthy work.” (Page 120)

Bloeme also describes how she saw the Frank family at the camp for the last time:

“Another selection had taken place. I spoke to Mrs. Frank, who was with Margot. Anne was somewhere else; she had Krätze (scabies). She had a rash of some kind or other. The Germans, unhindered by medical knowledge – at least the Germans who had the say-so over our lives – were terribly afraid because it might be infectious and she had to be isolated. As a result, Anne couldn’t go with our group. Mrs. Frank, echoed by Margot, said, ‘We are, of course, going with her.’ I remember that I nodded, that I understood that.

“That was the last time I saw them.” (Page 129)

Lenie De Jong-Van Naarden who became acquainted with the Franks in Westerbork concentration camp had another story to tell, which is the fifth chapter in the book:

“In Westerbork, I met the Frank family for the first time. My husband had quickly made contact with Otto Frank and got along with him very well. They had profound conversations and we had a very good relationship with Mrs. Frank, whom I always addressed as Mrs. Frank. I never called her by her first name; she was really a very special woman…. She worried a lot about her children. She was always busy with those girls. It is an especially close relationship – a mother with children.” (Page 144)

Lenie also describes how the Franks slept leaning on each other.

Last chapter

The last chapter discloses the reminiscences of Ronnie Goldsteen-Van Cleef who shared the Westerbork and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps with the Franks.. The following is how she describes the experiences at Westerbork:

“The Franks were pretty depressed. They had had the feeling that nothing could happen to them. They were very close to each other. They always walked together. I didn’t have very much contact with them; we greeted each other.” (Page 176)

Ronnie elaborates some of the remarkable facts about Frank family in the book. In this way, The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank expands our knowledge about Anne Frank with new insights.