The Tragic Death Of Anne Frank

For seven decades, historians believed Anne Frank died in March 1945, just two weeks before those at the Bergen-Belsen death camp were liberated. The Holocaust victim was given an official death date of March 31 by the Dutch Red Cross, while allied forces liberated those held at Bergen-Belsen on April 15, per PBS News. The closeness of these two dates added an extra layer of tragedy to Frank's death because it seemed she was just days away from liberation.

Frank was just 15 years old when she died of typhus fever. According to PBS, typhus sufferers experience extreme muscle pain, headaches, nausea, and thirst, as well as extremely high fevers. They may even experience skin hemorrhages that appear as a dark, full-body rash. Those infected tend to battle unpleasant side effects for a few weeks before dying.

Despite her tragic death, Frank's "The Diary of a Young Girl" remains one of the most important books about first-person World War II history. "I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met," she wrote in the book. "I want to go on living even after my death!"

Anne Frank likely died a month earlier than originally thought

Although Anne Frank was believed to have died on March 31, this date was disputed in 2015 by historians at the Anne Frank House Museum.

According to PBS News, the historians consulted materials from the Bergen-Belsen Memorial archives, the Dutch Red Cross, the International Tracing Service, and eyewitness testimonies of survivors who had come into contact with Frank and her sister at Bergen-Belsen.

One source was Holocaust survivor or Nanaette Blitz, who last saw the Frank sisters at the camp in January 1945 but found them unrecognizable. "She was no more than a skeleton by then," Blitz recalled (via USA Today). "She was wrapped in a blanket; she couldn't bear to wear her clothes anymore because they were crawling with lice ... [and] one day [the sisters] simply weren't there anymore."

Due to Frank's severe condition when Blitz saw her in January, Anne Frank House researchers concluded that she must have died shortly thereafter. "It is unlikely that they were still alive in March; their deaths must have occurred in February 1945," reads a statement from the Anne Frank House.

The exact date of Frank's death remains unknown, but it suggests that she did not miss liberation as narrowly as previously thought. "When you say they died at the end of March, it gives you a feeling that they died just before liberation," researcher Erika Prins told The Guardian. "Well, that's not true anymore."