Strawberries for visitors to Anne Frank House

Strawberries for visitors museum

Photo: postcard with strawberries that Anne pasted on the wall of her room.

Saturday 8 July 1944: a cheerful afternoon for the people in hiding in the Secret Annexe. Their helpers have managed to get hold of crates of strawberries; a stroke of luck. In the office kitchen it is a hive of activity. Anne Frank has ‘a funny feeling in her stomach’ as they all clean and pluck the strawberries. ‘At least that’s what they were supposed to be doing’, writes Anne, ‘but more was going into their mouths than into the buckets’. The rest of the strawberries were bottled.

Today, Sunday 5 May 2013, we are celebrating Liberation Day, and thinking back to that joyful afternoon in the Secret Annexe by giving out strawberries to visitors waiting in the queue.

Anne regularly writes about the dwindling food supplies in the Secret Annexe, and the efforts the helpers have to make to find food. The strawberries, which were acquired via the Opekta company, were a windfall. ‘We ate porridge with strawberries, buttermilk with strawberries, bread with strawberries, strawberries for dessert, strawberries with sugar, strawberries with sand. For two days there was nothing but strawberries, strawberries, strawberries, and then our supply was either exhausted or in jars, safely under lock and key’, writes Anne.

The eight people in hiding are in a hopeful mood, and listen to the BBC radio announcements about the advance of the allied forces every day. Anne hopes to be able to go back to school in October. But on 4 August 1944 the people in hiding are betrayed and arrested. Helpers Miep and Bep save Anne’s diary papers. When Otto Frank, as the only survivor of the eight people in hiding, returns and hears that both of his daughters have died in Bergen-Belsen, Miep gives him Anne’s diary papers. At first Otto hesitates, but he decides to fulfil the wish of his youngest daughter and publishes her diary.

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