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J. Brandes-Brilleslijper, 86; Dutch Resister Gave Aid to Anne Frank in Nazi Camp

August 20, 2003|From Associated Press

AMSTERDAM — Jannie Brandes-Brilleslijper, the last person known to have seen Anne Frank alive and a member of the resistance in the occupied Netherlands, has died. She was 86.

Brandes-Brilleslijper died of heart failure Friday in Amsterdam, Anne Frank House Foundation spokeswoman Mariette Huisjes said Tuesday.

Brandes-Brilleslijper worked as a nurse in the Nazi camps, where she provided clothing, medicine and food to fellow prisoners. She saw Anne two or three days before the Jewish diarist died, at age 15, of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the spring of 1945.

She told Otto Frank, Anne's father, of his daughter's death after the war.

"Anne was sick and hallucinating and had thrown away her clothes, because she was afraid of lice. Ms. Brandes-Brilleslijper gave her clothes and some food," Huisjes said. "She mostly helped young people in the camps in those difficult times."

Brandes-Brilleslijper was in the wartime Jewish resistance, forging identification papers to help other Jews escape the Nazis, before she and Anne were deported from Amsterdam. They both survived stays in the Westerbork and Auschwitz camps.

In a compilation of her writing published on her 70th birthday, Brandes-Brilleslijper described helping other Jews hide in Amsterdam and meeting Anne and her family.

She also wrote of the horror of arriving at the Birkenau death camp and the constant stench of burning bodies from the crematorium.

"We traveled on an ordinary train," she wrote. "The Frank family with two daughters was in the same train, and we met them later.

"We were stripped in an icy room with the wind billowing through it. Five women under one trickle of water. No towels. Tattooed, shaved ... we were totally confused and unable to understand anything," she wrote.

Anne Frank had fled from Germany to the Netherlands with her parents in 1933 to escape persecution under Adolf Hitler's National Socialist party. Her diary describing her family's two years in an attic hideaway is one of the world's most widely read books.

After the war, Brandes-Brilleslijper returned to the Dutch capital, where she had grown up with Jewish parents who ran a fish shop near the Jordaan district. She is survived by her two children.

A public burial will be Thursday at the Zorgvliet cemetery outside Amsterdam.

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