Anne was 3 years old when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933. At the time, the country was in desperate shape. Its defeat in World War I (1914-18) and the economic crisis that followed had left the nation humiliated and impoverished.
Hitler gave Germans a scapegoat for all the country’s problems: Jews. He blamed them not only for Germany’s loss in the war but also for the nation’s high unemployment rate and other issues. Once in power, he took advantage of widespread anti-Semitism to systematically target the Jewish people, stripping them of their rights, forbidding them to work in certain jobs, and organizing a boycott of Jewish businesses.
Before long, thousands of German Jews, including the Franks, fled the country in a desperate attempt to escape the Nazis. In 1934, Anne and her family settled in Amsterdam, where they thought they would be safe. And at first, they were. But in 1940, less than a year after Hitler’s invasion of Poland sparked World War II (1939-45), German forces occupied the Netherlands. The conflict eventually engulfed much of the world, pitting the Allies (led by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) against the Axis Powers (led by Germany, Italy, and Japan).
As Hitler’s empire grew, hundreds of thousands of European Jews tried to flee to other countries, fearful that they would be deported to concentration camps. But many of them had nowhere to go. Several nations, including the U.S., had set quotas that limited the number of refugees they would accept. Anne and her family were trapped.