Marga lived in a small German town close to the Dutch border. Her father, Carl Frank, was a World War I veteran who worked as a cattle dealer. Her mother, Irma (nee Tobias), was her father's second wife, and Marga had a younger brother, Manfred, and an older half-sister, Hanna. Even before Marga's birth, Germany passed restrictive laws against its Jewish citizens, barring them from most professions and strangling their businesses. Marga's father began smuggling Jewish refugees over the border into Holland.
On the night of November 9-10, 1938, country-wide acts of terror and destruction were directed against Germany's Jews. Marga's father was imprisoned and her older sister was expelled from school. Unable to leave the country, the entire family was trapped.
A few months after Mr. Frank was released from prison, the family received notice that they were to be deported to the "East." Before being shoved on an overcrowded train, Marga's favorite doll was taken away by a female guard who wanted it for her own child.
The family was sent to Riga, Latvia, and forced to live in a sealed-off ghetto. The previous 30,000 Jewish residents of the ghetto had been murdered by the Nazis to make room for the thousands of German Jews now being sent there. Conditions in the ghetto were horrendous. There was little food and water, and the Germans had shut down most sanitary facilities. Thousands died from starvation, disease, and exposure.
Seven year-old Marga lived in one room with her mother, father, older sister, and four aunts. Her father was shot while at work for stealing food for his starving family.
On November 2, 1942, the ghetto was emptied. The Nazis seized seven year-old Marga, her brother, mother and aunts, along with most of the other residents of the ghetto, and gassed them in sealed transport vans. Marga's older sister, Hanna, had a glimpse of the little girl, in her red coat, being driven away in a van.