Good Companion

Anne Frank in the Secret Annex: Who Was Who? - The Anne Frank House

Disclaimer: Arc via Netgalley.


                If the world was fair, then everyone who has read, or will read, the Diary of Anne Frank could visit the Anne Frank house in person.


                While it is possible to see the house by touring the website, it does not convey the whole claustrophobic feeling.  Even today, there is a feeling of being cut off from the outside.  It brings something more to a reading of the diary.


                There has always been debate about using the diary to teach the Holocaust, mostly centering on either not telling Frank’s whole story or because that story is such a narrow and unusual one.  The diary, however, does something more important, it provides a door in – an ideal door for it is the words of a girl who doesn’t understand why, and those words speak to children today who are trying to understand the same thing.


                This book should be used in conjunction with the diary for it gives more details about those in hiding with Anne.  It makes them more than those who appear because here you have more of the story than Anne Frank’s limited knowledge.  This book fleshes out that knowledge. 


                The biographies include and spend as much time on those besides the Franks.  The Van Pels get some nice space and the biographies shed light on not only their marriage but some of the other behavior that Anne Frank witnessed.  Both Margot and Edith Frank, who are always overshadowed by Otto and Anne Frank, have more space here and in their respective sections, photos of them without their more famous relatives are included.  Pfeffer too gets more space. 


                It isn’t just the other residents of the Annex that get attention; the helps to get space.  While much as been written about Miep Gies, but here Kleiman, Kugler, and Bep Voskuijl get the same amount of attention as does Jan Gies.  What comes across especially when viewing the photographs was the tightness in the group of people. 


                The book is rounded out by very brief information about other people in the surrounding area - such as workers (the cats even get a mention).   The book also includes a timeline and map of important camps, making it a good companion to be used in a classroom or when reading the Diary itself.