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This Is What Anne Frank's Arrest Looked Like

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Rex Features

The summer of 1944 was full of raised hopes and broken hearts all across Europe. By August, the Americans and Russians were trudging toward Germany. Warsaw was in the throes of its bloody uprising. And in the heart of Amsterdam, within arm's reach of a busy canal street, Anne Frank hid with her parents, Otto and Edith, her sister Margot, the Van Pels family (Hermann, Auguste, and son Peter), and Fritz Pfeffer, waiting for the war to end. The Jews in hiding had withstood bombs, near-starvation, two break-in attempts, and the many privations of their helpers during over two years in hiding, and the suspense had begun to take its toll. They were pale and malnourished from life without sun, but they were alive.

Anne, 15 years old and the diarist of the house, had long since grown out of the schoolgirl clothes she took with her into what she called Het Achterhuis (the house behind). In hiding, she studied, argued with her mother, experienced her first kiss, and watched the huge chestnut tree in the back of the house bloom and die and bloom again.

Via TravelPod

At first, she was terrified the hiding place, in the back of her father's office, would be discovered. "Not being able to go outside upsets me more than I can say, and I'm terrified our hiding place will be discovered and that we'll be shot," she wrote in her diary in September 1942. "That, of course, is a fairly dismal prospect." But by August 1944, she had other worries. She was revising her old diary and reflecting on the new person she'd become. In her most recent diary entry, she wrote about her fear of vulnerability, that people would discover that beneath her cheeky exterior was a deeply serious, deeply emotional young woman. "...I can't keep that up," she wrote. "...Finally I twist my heart around again, so that the bad is on the outside and the good is on the inside and keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be and what I could be, if ... there weren't any other people living in the world."

And then, on August 4, 1944, everything changed.

via Biography.com

August 4, 1944

[all times are approximate]

8am: Miep Gies goes upstairs to get the shopping list. Anne greets her cheerfully and asks if there's any news.

Before 11am: Somebody places an anonymous phone call to the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) office in Amsterdam, claiming there are Jews hiding at 263 Prinsengracht.

11am: A man in civilian clothing enters the office and points a revolver at Miep, Bep Voskuijl, and Johannes Kleiman, who are working in the front office. Plain-clothes Dutch policemen and a German officer in uniform arrive around the same time and force Victor Kugler to give them a tour of the building.

11:15am: Miep's husband, Jan, arrives to get his lunch. Miep gives him the lunch, some money, and several illegal ration cards and tells him something is wrong. He leaves quickly.


Via The Examiner

11:30am: Kleiman gives a distraught Bep his wallet and tells her to go to a pharmacist's office one street over, call his wife with the news, and disappear.

1:00pm: Kleiman is told to give the office keys to Miep. He tells her to keep out of it and she refuses, but follows his instructions to save what can be saved.

1:15pm: A Dutch policeman enters Miep's office and asks that a car be sent. The German officer, Karl Silberbauer, comes into the office and Miep realizes he has a Viennese accent (she is originally from Vienna). He confronts her and she remains calm until he threatens her husband, whom she defends.


Via The Holocaust Research Project

1:30pm: Miep hears the sound of the Franks, Van Pelses, and Pfeffer tramping down the stairs. "I could tell from their footsteps that they were coming down like beaten dogs," she writes. At the same time, Jan stands across the canal from the office with Kleiman's brother. Together, they watch their friends walking from the office door into a green truck. Each is carrying a small parcel. Though the truck drives within feet of them, Jan doesn't get a glimpse of their faces. The Franks are taken to SD headquarters along with their male protectors.

5:00pm: Bep and Jan return to the office. Together with Miep, they go into the hiding place, which has been looted and is in chaos. Miep notices Anne's diary strewn across the floor of her parents' bedroom. She picks it up, along with a shawl of Anne's and a compact of Mrs. Frank's.

Via Richard Ehrlich Photography

Though Kleiman and Kugler were released or escaped from prison, the Franks, Van Pelses, and Mr. Pfeffer were not so lucky. Though Miep and Jan begged and bargained for their freedom, they eventually went on to Westerbork, and from there to Auschwitz on the last transport to leave the Netherlands during the war. Starving, Anne died in March 1945 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Her father, Otto, was the family's only survivor.

Via The Anne Frank Trust UK

Thousands of Dutch citizens performed tiny acts of resistance during the war, from hiding Jewish friends to taking thousands of clandestine photographs to document the terror they saw outside their windows. Anne's arrest could have looked like this, or this (though there was only one armed officer on the scene).

Via Geheugen van Plan Zuid / The Memory of the Netherlands

That no photos of that terrifying August day exist could be a matter of fate as much as fear. Maybe a neighbor documented the event, but the evidence was lost to bombs or forgotten in a book. Maybe a photo of the Franks after the Secret Annex will emerge like this extraordinary video of a living, breathing Anne.

Or maybe Anne Frank's arrest was just another razzia (roundup) to the citizens of Amsterdam.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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Dodo: © Oxford University, Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Background: iStock
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Head Case: What the Only Soft Tissue Dodo Head in Existence Is Teaching Scientists About These Extinct Birds
Dodo: © Oxford University, Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Background: iStock
Dodo: © Oxford University, Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Background: iStock

Of all the recently extinct animals, none seems to excite the imagination quite like the dodo—a fact Mark Carnall has experienced firsthand. As one of two Life Collections Managers at the UK's Oxford University Museum of Natural History, he’s responsible for nearly 150,000 specimens, “basically all the dead animals excluding insects and fossils,” he tells Mental Floss via email. And that includes the only known soft tissue dodo head in existence.

“In the two and a bit years that I’ve been here, there’s been a steady flow of queries about the dodo from researchers, artists, the public, and the media,” he says. “This is the third interview about the dodo this week! It’s definitely one of the most popular specimens I look after.”

The dodo, or Raphus cucullatus, lived only on the island of Mauritius (and surrounding islets) in the Indian Ocean. First described by Vice Admiral Wybrand van Warwijck in 1598, it was extinct less than 100 years later (sailors' tales of the bird, coupled with its rapid extinction, made many doubt that the dodo was a real creature). Historians still debate the extent that humans ate them, but the flightless birds were easy prey for the predators, including rats and pigs, that sailors introduced to the isolated island of Mauritius. Because the dodo went extinct in the 1600s (the actual date is still widely debated), museum specimens are very, very rare. In fact, with the exception of subfossils—the dark skeletons on display at many museums—there are only three other known specimens, according to Carnall, “and one of those is missing.” (The fully feathered dodos you might have seen in museums? They're models, not actual zoological specimens.)

A man standing with a Dodo skeleton and a reconstructed model of the extinct bird
A subfossil (bone that has not been fully fossilized) Dodo skeleton and a reconstructed model of the extinct bird in a museum in Wales circa 1938.
Becker, Fox Photos/Getty Images

Since its extinction was confirmed in the 1800s, Raphus cucullatus has been an object of fascination: It’s been painted and drawn, written about and scientifically studied, and unfairly become synonymous with stupidity. Even now, more than 300 years since the last dodo walked the Earth, there’s still so much we don’t know about the bird—and Oxford’s specimen might be our greatest opportunity to unlock the mysteries surrounding how it behaved, how it lived, how it evolved, and how it died.

 
 

To put into context how old the dodo head is, consider this: From the rule of Oliver Cromwell to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, it has been around—and it’s likely even older than that. Initially an entire bird (how exactly it was preserved is unclear), the specimen belonged to Elias Ashmole, who used his collections to found Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum in 1677. Before that, it belonged to John Tradescant the Elder and his son; a description of the collection from 1656 notes the specimen as “Dodar, from the Island Mauritius; it is not able to flie being so big.”

And that’s where the dodo’s provenance ends—beyond that, no one knows where or when the specimen came from. “Where the Tradescants got the dodo from has been the subject of some speculation,” Carnall says. “A number of live animals were brought back from Mauritius, but it’s not clear if this is one of [those animals].”

Initially, the specimen was just another one of many in the museum’s collections, and in 1755, most of the body was disposed of because of rot. But in the 19th century, when the extinction of the dodo was confirmed, there was suddenly renewed interest in what remained. Carnall writes on the museum’s blog that John Duncan, then the Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, had a number of casts of the head made, which were sent to scientists and institutions like the British Museum and Royal College of Surgeons. Today, those casts—and casts of those casts—can be found around the world. (Carnall is actively trying to track them all down.)

The Oxford University Dodo head with scoleric bone and the skin on one side removed.
The Oxford University Dodo head with skin and sclerotic ring.
© Oxford University, Oxford University Museum of Natural History // Used with permission

In the 1840s, Sir Henry Acland, a doctor and teacher, dissected one side of the head to expose its skeleton, leaving the skin attached on the other side, for a book about the bird by Alexander Gordon Melville and H.E. Strickland called The dodo and its kindred; or, The history, affinities, and osteology of the dodo, solitaire, and other extinct birds of the islands Mauritius, Rodriguez and Bourbon. Published in 1848, “[It] brought together all the known accounts and depictions of the dodo,” Carnall says. The Dodo and its kindred further raised the dodo’s profile, and may have been what spurred schoolteacher George Clark to take a team to Mauritius, where they found the subfossil dodo remains that can be seen in many museums today.

Melville and Strickland described Oxford’s specimen—which they believed to be female—as being “in tolerable preservation ... The eyes still remain dried within the sockets, but the corneous extremity of the beak has perished, so that it scarcely exhibits that strongly hooked termination so conspicuous in all the original portraits. The deep transverse grooves are also visible, though less developed than in the paintings.”

Today, the specimen includes the head as well as the sclerotic ring (a bony feature found in the eyes of birds and lizards), a feather (which is mounted on a microscope slide), tissue samples, the foot skeleton, and scales from the foot. “Considering it’s been on display in collections and museums, pest eaten, dissected, sampled and handled by scientists for over 350 years,” Carnall says, “it’s in surprisingly good condition.”

 
 

There’s still much we don’t know about the dodo, and therefore a lot to learn. As the only soft tissue of a dodo known to exist, the head has been studied for centuries, and not always in ways that we would approve of today. “There was quite some consideration about dissecting the skin off of the head by Sir Henry Acland,” Carnall says. “Sadly there have also been some questionable permissions given, such as when [Melville] soaked the head in water to manipulate the skin and feel the bony structure. Excessive handling over the years has no doubt added to the wear of the specimen.”

Today, scientists who want to examine the head have to follow a standard protocol. “The first step is to get in touch with the museum with details about access requirements ... We deal with enquiries about our collections every single day,” Carnall says. “Depending on the study required, we try to mitigate damage and risk to specimens. For destructive sampling—where a tissue sample or bone sample is needed to be removed from the specimen and then destroyed for analysis—we weigh up the potential importance of the research and how it will be shared with the wider community.”

In other words: Do the potential scientific gains outweigh the risk to the specimen? “This,” Carnall says, “can be a tough decision to make.”

The head, which has been examined by evolutionary biologist Beth Shapiro and extinction expert Samuel Turvey as well as dodo experts Julian Hume and Jolyon Parish, has been key in many recent discoveries about the bird. “[It] has been used to understand what the dodo would have looked like, what it may have eaten, where it fits in with the bird evolutionary tree, island biogeography and of course, extinction,” Carnall says. In 2011, scientists took measurements from dodo remains—including the Oxford specimen—and revised the size of the bird from the iconic 50 pounder seen in paintings to an animal “similar to that of a large wild turkey.” DNA taken from specimen’s leg bone has shed light on how the dodo came to Mauritius and how it was related to other dodo-like birds on neighboring islands [PDF]. That DNA also revealed that the dodo’s closest living relative is the Nicobar pigeon [PDF].

A nicobar pigeon perched on a bowl of food.
A nicobar pigeon.
iStock

Even with those questions answered, there are a million more that scientists would like to answer about the dodo. “Were there other species—plants, parasites—that depended on the dodo?” Carnall asks. “What was the soft tissue like? ... How and when did the dodo and the related and also extinct Rodrigues solitaire colonize the Mascarene Islands? What were their brains like?”

 
 

Though it’s a rare specimen, and priceless by scientific standards, the dodo head is, in many ways, just like all the rest of the specimens in the museum’s collections. It’s stored in a standard archival quality box with acid-free tissue paper that’s changed regularly. (The box is getting upgraded to something that Carnall says is “slightly schmancier” because “it gets quite a bit of use, more so than the rest of the collection.”) “As for the specific storage, we store it in vault 249 and obviously turn the lasers off during the day,” Carnall jokes. “The passcode for the vault safe is 1234ABCD …”

According to Carnall, even though there are many scientific and cultural reasons why the dodo head is considered important, to him, it isn’t necessarily more important than any of the other 149,999 specimens he’s responsible for.

“Full disclosure: All museum specimens are equally important to collections managers,” he says. “It is a huge honor and a privilege to be responsible for this one particular specimen, but each and every specimen in the collection also has the power to contribute towards our knowledge of the natural world ... This week I was teaching about a species of Greek woodlouse and the molluscs of Oxfordshire. We know next to nothing about these animals—where they live, what they eat, the threats to them, and the predators that rely on them. The same is true of most living species, sadly. But on the upside, there’s so much work to be done!”

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How Promoting Handwashing Got One 19th Century Doctor Institutionalized
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iStock

Regardless of how often we actually do it, it's common knowledge that washing our hands before eating, after coughing, and after using the bathroom is good for us. But the connection between handwashing and health wasn't always accepted as fact. As Danielle Bainbridge explains in the PBS web series Origin of Everything, the first doctor to campaign for cleanliness in hospitals was not only shunned by other medical professionals, but ended up in an insane asylum.

Prior to the 19th century, handwashing primarily existed in the context of religious ceremonies and practices. It plays a role in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and Buddhism in some form or another. But washing up to stop the spread of disease wasn't really a thing for most of history. People weren't aware of germs, so instead of microbes, they blamed illness on everything from demons to bad air.

Then, in 1846, a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis made a breakthrough observation. He noticed that women giving birth with the help of midwives were less likely to die than those treated by doctors. He determined that because doctors were also performing autopsies on victims of puerperal fever (a bacterial infection also known as childbed fever), they were somehow spreading the disease to their other patients. Semmelweis started promoting handwashing and instrument sterilization in his clinic, and the spread of puerperal fever dropped as a result.

Despite the evidence to support his theory, his peers in the medical community weren't keen on the idea of blaming patient deaths on doctors. Partly due to his commitment to the controversial theory, Semmelweis was shunned from his field. He suffered a mental breakdown and ended up in a mental hospital, where he died a few weeks later.

Germ theory did eventually become more mainstream as the century progressed, and washing hands as a way to kill unseen pathogens started gaining popularity. Even so, it wasn't until the 1980s that the CDC released the first official guidelines instructing people on best handwashing practices.

If this story suddenly has you in the mood to practice good hygiene, here's the best way to wash your hands, according to experts.

[h/t Origin of Everything]

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