The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank: The Stories of Six Women Who Knew Anne Frank by Willy Lindwer

While researching Anne Frank’s life and looking for information about her besides what many people have read about in her famous diary, I ran across this book.  It grabbed me in the sense that I wasn’t sure whether or not I really wanted to hear about what happened to Anne after she and her Anne_frank family were arrested and taken from their hiding place.  Did I really want to read about the horrors she faced before she died seven months later in a concentration camp?  I am usually one to shy away from such traumatic material because it is hard for me to read, it haunts me too much.  But, all my life I’d only known about Anne and her diary, her life in hiding.  I felt like I needed to know what became of her.  Despite the book’s 204 pages, there is really little information on Anne in here beyond the Introduction and Historical Overview.  There are brief moments here and there where the women who Lindwer interviewed encountered Anne.  But these are really fleeting accounts.  The heart of this book is the experiences of the women who happen to have the notoriety of glimpsing Anne in her last days.  The accounts are heart-wrenching and horrifying.  They left me shaking my head, not wanting to believe the stories were real — that human beings really are capable of inflicting such suffering on others.  After reading one woman’s account that had been very descriptive of the starvation, filth, disease, and death, I put the book down and said out loud to myself: “I’m not so sure I’m glad I read that.”  It is not like these accounts told me anything that I had not already read about concentration camps.  What makes them unique are the strong women who were able to survive such strife in the face of death.  And strangely enough, as I read each account I still found myself incredibly eager for the moment when the survivor encountered Anne Frank, however brief it was. 

(Heidi Schachtschneider, Information Services)

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