Mrs. Frank was born Edith Hollander, and her family came from Aachen, a town on Germany's western border, near Belgium. Like her husband, she came from the comfortable middle classes and was accustomed to a life of relative ease, with most of the work in the house being done by servants. Her husband was eleven years older than she was, being thirty-six to her twenty-five when they were married in 1925. They lived in Frankfurt-on-Main, Germany, and their daughters, Margot and Anne, were born in 1926 and 1929, respectively. When the Nazis came to power, in 1933, and the persecution of the Jews of Germany began, the Franks moved to Holland.
For seven years, the Franks lived peacefully and prosperously in Amsterdam, but things changed when the Nazis invaded and occupied Holland in 1940. The Franks tried to continue living a normal life under the Nazi regime, but this became increasingly difficult, and in the summer of 1942, they went into hiding.
In the "Secret Annexe," Mrs. Frank was obliged to perform various tasks which she had not formerly been accustomed to doing. In addition, she was living in cramped quarters, together with her family and another four people. This obviously was not easy for her, and possibly much of the bad feeling between Anne and her mother may have been due to this and the effect that the cramped living conditions had on everyone's nerves.
After her arrest, Mrs. Frank was taken with her family to Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam and the Westerbork reception camp. There, according to an eyewitness, she was very quiet. "She seemed numbed all the time. . . . Edith Frank could have been a mute. She said nothing at work, and in the evenings, she was always washing underclothing. The water was murky and there was no soap, but she went on washing, all the time."
Like the other members of the group, Mrs. Frank was included in the last shipment of people to be sent to Auschwitz from Holland in early September 1944. At Auschwitz, she was still with Anne and Margot, though separated from Mr. Frank.
On October 30, 1944, there was a "selection" among the women at Auschwitz, and the younger and healthier ones were sent on to the Belsen concentration camp. Anne and Margot were included in this group, while Mrs. Frank was left behind. The events which she had been through, the hunger, and the privation, had unhinged her mind, and she refused to eat. She began collecting what few crusts of bread she could find and hiding them in her bed, saying that they were for her husband. The bread spoiled, but still she continued to hoard it, unwilling or unable to eat. She was forty-five years old when she died in her bed in Auschwitz on January 6, 1945, ten days before the SS guards fled from the camp.