Anne Frank and her family are happy in Frankfurt. In the early 1930s, however, they feel the effects of the economic crisis. They also start to notice the rising popularity of the Nazis.

Anne and Margot in Frankfurt

Otto Frank with his daughters, Anne and Margot, on his lap. Frankfurt am Main, 1931 Fotocollectie Anne Frank Stichting
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Anne Frank and her elder sister Margot are both born in Frankfurt am Main, in western Germany, where they have a happy childhood. They are close to their parents and have lots of contact with the other children in the neighbourhood. In the early 1930s the family moves house. The impact of the economic crisis is starting to be felt and the political situation is getting worse as the anti-Jewish Nazis gain influence.

Margot

Margot Betti is born in Frankfurt am Main on 16 February 1926. She is called Betti after Edith's dead sister, Bettina. Margot's parents call her 'Mutz', as a pet name. After Margot's birth Edith keeps a baby book. In it, she records details of her daughter's birth, the midwife's name, information about the family, vaccinations and special events, such as when the baby's first tooth appeared. She also sticks in lots of photos. Three years after Margot's birth, on 12 June 1929, a little sister arrives – Annelies Marie, known to the family as Anne. Edith writes in Anne's baby book that Margot saw her sister for the first time on 14 June and is very excited.

Margot Frank. Her middle name is Betti, named after Edith's sister, who suffered an untimely death. © Anne Frank Fonds, Bazel / Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam

Playing with the neighbours

The family lives on Marbachweg (road) in Frankfurt. Anne and Margot have a good time here. There are lots of children in the neighbourhood and most days some of them come to play with Margot. Anne often plays in the sandpit in the garden. She is too young to go outside the gate. Margot is allowed out of the garden and she often plays in the street with her friends. As soon as Anne can walk she plays with them. Her childhood friend Hilde Staab can still remember years later how her mother and Edith would often watch the playing children together through the windows or from the balcony, and that they really enjoyed seeing their children having so much fun.

For us too, the years on the Marbachweg were some of the loveliest.

Edith Frank-Holländer, 1937

Books and photos

The children in the neighbourhood are from a variety of backgrounds. Some are Catholics, others are Protestant or Jewish. Margot and her friends are very curious about one another's festivities and traditions. That is why Margot is invited to Hilde's Holy Communion party and when the Franks celebrate Hanukkah they sometimes let the local children join in. The Franks are liberal Jews. That means they are not strict believers but they do follow Jewish traditions. Otto and his family consider themselves firstly Germans. Reading and studying is very important to Otto, for his two daughters as well as himself. He is also an enthusiastic photographer. He often takes photos of Anne and Margot playing with the children in the neighbourhood, or on days out or visiting their grandma and grandpa Holländer in Aachen.

Pim

Anne and Margot love their father. They and their mother, Edith, nickname him Pim. When Otto puts his daughters to bed in the evening he often tells them a bedtime story. He frequently invents these himself. They are often about 'The two Paulas', two girls who have lots of adventures. The good Paula is obedient, but the bad Paula is always getting up to mischief. Anne and Margot love the stories.

Marbachweg 307, Frankfurt am Main Fotocollectie Anne Frank Stichting

A new street

In 1931, Otto, Edith, Margot and Anne move from the Marburgweg to the Ganghoferstraße. They have to move because they need to live more cheaply. The Frank family bank is suffering big losses and Otto's revenues are falling rapidly. Added to this, the landlord of the house on Marburgweg is a member of the antisemitic National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP). Hilde suspects that the Franks decided to move because of unhappy relations with the landlord. However, the landlord's son says later that his father had to join the NSDAP because he would otherwise have lost his job - and not because he disliked Jews.

Anne Frank, Ganghoferstrasse, Frankfurt am Main, 1931. Fotocollectie Anne Frank Stichting

Anne and Margot keep in touch with the children from their old neighbourhood, even after the family moves Marbachweg to the Ganghoferstraße in 1931. Former neighbour Gertrud Naumann misses the Franks very much. She carries on going round almost every week to play in the sandpit with Margot. The family isn't living very far from the old house and there are beautiful walks and hills to sledge down in the winter snow. The Frank girls quickly make friends in their new neighbourhood.

Margot goes to school

Their new home is near the Ludwig Richter School, and this is where Margot has her first day at school, on 6 April 1932. The school has a modern headteacher and classes are sometimes held outside. Pupils are encouraged to learn independently and build friendly relationships with the teachers. Otto Frank writes to his mother in June 1932: "Margot is an angel. She had a school trip today. She was delighted."

Another move

They live in the Ganghoferstraße for almost two years, and then for financial reasons have to move in with grandma Frank, Otto's mother. Margot's school is now rather far away from their home, so she moves to a different one that's a bit nearer, the Varrentrapp School. Otto and Edith hope Margot won't have any problems because of her Jewish background, but unfortunately she does.

Anne’s parents The lives of Otto and Edith Frank

Otto Frank marries Edith Holländer in 1925 and they have two daughters, Margot and Anne. Their family life is happy, but there are business troubles.   Otto Frank marries Edith Holländer in 1925 and they have two daughters, Margot and Anne. Their family life is happy, but there are business troubles.

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