In 1943, Hanneli's family is sent to a labor camp and eventually to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in northern Germany. Just over one year later, in 1944, the Frank family's hiding place is discovered. Anne and her family are immediately arrested and sent to concentration camps.
In February 1945, Hanneli learns that there are Dutch people in a part of Bergen-Belsen that is separated by a barbed-wire fence filled with straw. Hanneli knows the punishment for speaking to the prisoners on the other side of the fence could be death, but she feels homesick and is desperate to speak to someone from home.
One cold evening, Hanneli creeps up to the barbed wire and timidly whispers into the fence. She hears a voice softly ask, "Who are you?" in Dutch. Hanneli responds with her name, and the woman who turns out to be a friend of the Frank family informs her that Anne is at the camp. She asks Hanneli if she wants to speak to Anne. Hardly able to contain her excitement, Hanneli says yes.
A Final Reunion
Hanneli knows she must try to help her friend. The next night she decides to take an even greater risk. She and some of the other women put together a small package of food rations. Then Hanneli goes back to the fence and throws the package over to Anne. Hanneli hears Anne scream. Another prisoner has grabbed the package and won't give it up.
Despite the danger, Hanneli once more returns to meet Anne several days later. Again, she throws a small package over the fence. This time Anne catches it and heads off into the darkness. This is the last time Hanneli sees her friend alive.
Learn more by reading about Hanneli's Holocaust Story and her interview with students.