What Language Did Anne Frank Speak?


Anne Frank is a well known and beloved historical personality. She captivated many with her diary detailing the hiding of her family during world war 2. This diary has been incredibly popular for decades leading it to be translated in many different languages. As such it might not be clear what language she spoke. So, what language did Anne Frank Speak?

Anne Frank predominately spoke Dutch and wrote her famous diary mostly with this language. She was familiar with German, though couldn’t speak it as well as Dutch. During her time in hiding, she studied French and English. In her day to day life, Anne Frank mainly used Dutch.

Yet, why did Anne Frank speak Dutch? Did she speak Hebrew? Did Anne Frank speak English? What Language did she speak at home? Learn the answers to those question about Anne Frank and more by reading on!

What Language Did Anne Frank Speak At Home?

It is not surprising that many would like to know more about Anne Frank. Most of what we know about her is generally from reading her published diary, making it a go-to source. Yet, what else can we know about her apart from what is written in her diary? One question regarding Anne Frank is the languages she spoke, particularly at home.

The language that Anne Frank spoke most at her home was Dutch. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and her family left for the Netherlands when she was around 4 years old. This means she had spoken mostly German early in her life. Yet, learned and spoke mainly Dutch in later years.

The reason why the Frank family decide to move to the Netherlands is due to the rising hostile political climate in Germany. Anne Frank’s parents were both born in Germany and were Germans citizens despite them being ethically Jewish. When they did moved to the Netherlands, they then fully assimilate into the Dutch culture.

Anne Frank did study languages like French and English when in hiding. Even during her family’s hiding from the Nazi occupation, Anne and her sister continue to study. It was essentially home schooling despite their circumstances.

She studied these languages, but didn’t use them to speak to her family. Not even with those that were with them during their time hiding from the Nazis did she use English or French.

Why Did Anne Frank Speak Dutch?

Since Anne Frank was born in Germany, this means that she would have some familiarity of German at a young age. Yet, when she moved to the Netherlands, she learned Dutch. Why is that the case?

Anne Frank spoke Dutch because she moved to the Netherlands when she was young. In the Netherlands, Dutch is the official language and therefore taught in schools and used in everyday business dealings. When children under 10 years old are exposed to language in this way, fluency is likely.

When her family moved to the Netherlands, she would have to learn the native tongue there. She lived in the Netherlands for many years up until the war. Though she was born in Germany, she was completely part of the Netherland’s culture.

This is all why she spoke Dutch before the war, and before the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. There wasn’t a reason for her not to continue speaking Dutch during her time in hiding from the Nazis.

Where Was Anne Franks Home During the war?

Anne Frank had spoken mostly Dutch due to her home being in the Netherlands, yet what home did she have during the war? Did her family leave the country?

When the Nazis had beaten the Dutch armies, they then occupied the Netherlands. With this came many different laws, particularly those that discriminated against the Jews that lived there. And from there, it only got worse.

Seeing the increasing hostile environment that they were in, Anne Frank’s family with her father leading the charge decided to go into hiding. Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, with the help of some of his loyal employees made a hidden house on top a warehouse where he used to work.

Anne Frank called the place where they hid, the Secret Annex. This is where most of what she wrote in her diary took place and what it was mainly about. The building known as the “Secret Annex” is located in central Amsterdam.

The building that they used as a hiding place from the Nazi is still preserved today. It has been converted to a museum and is known as the Anne Frank House, the link to their official website is here. This building has been made to look just like Anne Frank experienced when living there.

The Frank Family remained in the Netherlands, but were in hiding. How does this affect the language they spoke?

How Did Anne Franks Place Of Hiding Affect the Languages She Spoke?

During all of the time she spent there did she continue to speak Dutch as her main language? Or, did she start to speak another language like German?

Though she and nearly all those that lived in the “Secret Annex” studied languages, they still used Dutch as their primary language. They did study languages to past the time and for the young to keep their education even in the their hiding place.

The men that lived in the Secret Annex studied English, along with Anne Frank’s sister Margot. Margot herself then undertook studying Latin. Anne Frank also studied English, but mainly French.

One rule that was established in the Secret Annex was not speaking German. Most could speak the language, but didn’t want to for reason made obvious in their circumstance.

Her family had lived in the Netherlands for many years and for all intents and purposes were Dutch. This means that there was no point in not speaking Dutch because it had become “their” language. Then combined with the fact that they did not leave the country, this further encouraged them to speak Dutch.

Did Anne Frank Speak English?

It is not a uncommon for some to think that Anne Frank spoke English because her published diary can be read in English. Yet, the diary was written mainly in Dutch and only translated into English later. Anne Frank did however study English when in her period of hiding.

Regardless of the diary then, that begs the question: did Anne Frank speak English.

Anne Frank could not speak English on a fluent level. She did study the language as a educational pursuit when hiding with her family from the Nazi presence in Amsterdam. Though it is very unlikely that she could speak English above a beginner level.

She was not the only one who studied English in the Secret Annex, her father and sister both studied it. They actually spent more time with English than Anne because she focused more on French.

If interested in language learning in general then read some on my other articles!

Did Anne Frank Speak Hebrew?

We know that Anne Frank was born in Germany and then moved to the Netherlands. This mean that she spoke both German and Dutch. In her published diary, Anne Frank mentions studying French and English. Besides these languages what other could she have known or spoken? Her Jewish background makes some wonder if she knew any Hebrew.

Anne Frank could not speak Hebrew. Modern Hebrew was never mention in her diary and it didn’t seem to be spoken by most in her family. However her family were religious to some extent, particularly her mother. When prayer was mentioned, it was said that it was spoken in German.

Since Anne Frank was a Jew, some might assume that she would be familiar with Hebrew. This is not the case because her family were more liberal Jews, though that does not mean they were not religious.

One contributing factor why Anne Frank wouldn’t know Hebrew was that she was raised to be more of a Dutchwoman rather than a Jew. And you can hardly blame her parents for encouraging that, because of the political climate of their day.

Due to this she wasn’t really forced into learning the language, or certainly does not seem that way from what we can see through her diary.

Most of the the adults of the Secret Annex, particularly the males, would probably have some knowledge of Hebrew. Yet, they would not have access to books written in that language. The Nazi occupation would have been thorough in disposing of books written in Hebrew.

What Language Did Anne Frank Write Her Diary In?

We have now a general understanding of the languages Anne Frank spoke. She mainly spoke Dutch along with somewhat fluent German and studying languages like English and French. With all these different languages, what language did Anne Frank write in her diary with?

The language Anne Frank mainly used in her diary was Dutch. Most of the text was written in Dutch, but there were small exceptions. Like some passages were in English, though admittedly small in size. Then some words or phrases were in German. However, the diary is still by and large in Dutch.

Since Dutch was her main language, even though German was her native language, Anne Frank’s diary was written in near entirely in Dutch.

If you yourself would like to know more about the story of Anne Frank, then reading her diary would be the best place to start. The book is commonly known as: The Diary Of A Young Girl, (Get It Free Here With A Free Audible Trial) and is available on amazon.

From that original diary written in Dutch, countless translations have emerged over the decades.

How Many Languages Is Anne Frank’s Diary Translated In?

The Diary Of Young Girl, as it’s commonly known as, is the published diary of Anne Frank. This book has been famous for decades due to the powerful real-life story it tells, seen through the eyes of a young girl in world war 2. Since it is so well-known, some can’t help but wonder how many languages it has been translated into.

Anne Frank’s diary has been translated into over 70 languages worldwide. The diary became incredibly popular after her death, with Anne Frank’s father publishing the diary. Written originally in Dutch, it has now been translated to many different languages.

Unfortunately, all those who hid in the hiding place with the Frank family, along with the Frank family themselves died in world war 2. With the one exception of Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, they all died due to the Nazi occupation. Anne Frank died, from what is generally believed to be widespread disease in a Nazi concentration camp.

Somehow the Nazis got a tip of the hiding place of the Frank family. As such this lead to their capture. That is why Otto Frank was the one who published her diary, because he is the only one who survived.

According to this study from the Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, the use of expressive writing (this includes the keeping of diaries and journals) to write about traumatic events can help with one’s mental health.

In Anne Franks position, it is no wonder she started writing about her time at the Secret Annex. Since it would have been a very stressful situation for a little girl, writing about it would help her deal with the harsh reality of what they were going through.

After the war, he decided to publish her diary that he found in the remains of their hiding place. The diary eventually took off, especially in the US, in popularity. Leading the book to become a classic read throughout the world.

The Final Talking Point On What Language Did Anne Frank Speak…

Anne Frank spoke a few different languages, and this was due to her upbringing from being born in Germany to moving to the Netherlands.

The languages that Anne Frank spoke or had studied:

  • She spoke fluent Dutch
  • German was her native language, though moving out of Germany made it where she rarely used it and due to this she became rusty.
  • She studied English, but more than likely couldn’t speak it all that well.
  • She also studied French, yet like English could probably only speak it on a beginner level.

These were the languages that she were familiar with, but mainly she just spoke Dutch. After all, it was in Dutch that she wrote her famous diary.

Looking for more info on language learning? Then read some of my other articles!

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a licensed teacher for elementary through high school in 3 states. She is a former adjunct professor at the undergraduate level and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. She was a mentor for many education interns, has taught and coordinated professional development for teachers and educators, and professionally tutored in a multitude of subjects.

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