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Anne Frank's father tried to flee to U.S.

February 15, 2007|From Reuters

NEW YORK — The father of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl whose diaries of life hiding from the Nazis became world-famous, sought money and help obtaining a U.S. visa from a wealthy New York friend in hopes of escaping Europe, according to documents released Wednesday.

Otto Frank asked for $5,000 from college friend Nathan Straus Jr., whose father at the time owned Macy's department store, as he tried to escape Holland with his wife, mother-in-law and daughters Margot and Anne, according documents from the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in New York City.

A Yivo volunteer discovered the correspondence among the millions of documents in its archives in mid-2005, but the institute had to resolve copyright issues before displaying them.

The letters, telegrams and government documents, dating from April to December 1941, show Frank's efforts to get to the U.S. and Cuba before he and his family went into hiding in 1942. Anne Frank described the events in the diary she kept before she died in a German concentration camp in 1945, at age 15.

"It is for the sake of the children mainly that we have to care for. Our own fate is of less importance," Otto Frank wrote in a letter to Straus, who was head of the U.S. Housing Authority. "You are the only person I know that I can ask."

Frank asked for $5,000 to cover a deposit related to getting a U.S. visa, but the money was ultimately not needed because the visa was not granted.

Straus, who died in 1961, and his wife made several appeals to government contacts, according to the documents. They also show the Franks received help from Julius Hollander, Otto Frank's brother-in-law, who was living in Boston.

Cuba issued Otto Frank a visa on Dec. 1, 1941, according to the documents, but it was canceled 10 days later when Germany declared war on the U.S.

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