The diary of Jewish girl Anne Frank, found after the war, has moved generations of readers and is still recommended reading for millions of schoolchildren. It recounts, in the language of the young teenager, how she and her family went into hiding in July 1942 in a cramped attic in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of Holland.
Anne kept her diary faithfully until the family were betrayed to the authorities and arrested in 1944. Anne died just before her 16th birthday in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, in 1945.
Now letters found in an American archive reveal the desperate efforts of Anne Frank’s father Otto to escape with his family from the Nazis before they invaded Holland. Seventy-eight documents including some from Otto’s American relatives and friends have been released by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York.
The letters, covering the period from April 1941 to 11 December 1941 when Nazi Germany declared war on the US, were found in New York a year ago by Estelle Guzik. They reveal how in 1941 Otto Frank had tried to obtain visas for his family to travel to the US or Cuba.
Otto urged friends to appeal to refugee agencies in the US to get the Frank family out. However, by July 1941 it was very difficult to leave Holland. The family would have needed exit visas from the German authorities and then more visas to cross France and Spain.
The new information has been described as ‘compelling’ and has been authenticated by Holocaust experts. Although Anne Frank died in Bergen-Belsen, her father Otto survived the Auschwitz death camp.