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There’s New Information About Anne Frank’s Death

New research challenges the notion that if the Frank sisters had lived a few days more, they’d have survived the war

(Anne Frank Fonds Basel/dpa/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Anne Frank died in a concentration camp—and for years the story has been that her death came just days before that camp was liberated by British and Canadian troops. But, now, a new report is calling that into question: its authors concluded that Anne’s commonly-accepted death date of late March 1945 is at least a month off.

The Anne Frank House museum has announced that Frank probably died in February 1945, a good month before the death date traditionally estimated by historians. Historians estimated the new date based on a reassessment of eyewitness accounts and Red Cross documents that used to place Anne’s death date in March 1945.

Their report was published yesterday on what was formerly thought to be the 70th anniversary of the death of Anne and her sister Margot, who were captured, forced into slave labor at Auschwitz-Birkenau and left to die of typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

The new narrative challenges the assumption that if the Franks had held on just a little longer, they’d have made it to the camp’s liberation, Anne Frank House researcher Erika Prins told the Guardian:

“When you say they died at the end of March, it gives you a feeling that they died just before liberation. So maybe if they’d lived two more weeks …” Prins said, her voice trailing off. “Well, that’s not true any more.”

Seventy years later, the story of the Franks still has the power to intrigue, sparking interest in everything from her relatives to her childhood to her complex legacy. A new perspective on her death places her more squarely in the ranks of more than six million Jews and other civilians who died in over 40,000 ghettos and camps under Nazi rule.

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