Anne Frank's family tried to escape to US, but hit roadblocks
Anne Frank's family tried to escape to US, but hit roadblocks
Anne Frank's family tried in vain to escape Nazis to US, new research shows
09 July, 2018, 05:32
A photograph (left) of Otto Frank with his daughters Anne and Margaret; at right, yellow stars worn by Dutch Jews being displayed in NY, 2007.
The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which are both institutions dedicated to the preservation of knowledge from this dark point in history, said Friday that documents go to corroborate the theory that Anne's father Otto tried twice to collect the papers needed to obtain visas for the United States.
Knowing what was headed their way, in 1938, Otto applied to have the Frank family emigrate to the United States, which allowed limited immigration at the time.
In an effort to escape Nazi persecution, Anne Frank and her family famously spent more than two years hiding in a secret annex behind her father's business.
But the consulate was destroyed in 1940 during a German bombardment as the family waited for an answer.
"I am forced to look out for emigration and as far as I can see the U.S. is the only country we could go to", Otto Frank wrote in a letter to a friend living in NY. Even then, there was no guarantee that the Franks' application would have been approved; during the early years of the war, Americans were wary of accepting political refugees from European countries.
Soon after Frank wrote his letter about the destruction of his family's immigration applications, the US and Germany made it even harder for Jewish Germans to immigrate to America. With hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge in the USA each year by the time war broke out in 1939, Washington was issuing fewer than 30,000 annual visas.
The processing of a visa application also lasted several years and included a huge amount of paper work, affidavits from relatives or friends in the US.
"State Department officials, who were generally obstructionist and now anxious about possible spies and saboteurs infiltrating the United States, were under instructions to scrutinize each application even more carefully and reject anyone about whom they had any doubts", the report explains.
The war further complicated any immigration efforts. Immigration rules became stricter and finally the American consulate in the Netherlands as well as those in German-occupied Europe were closed in retaliation for the United States closing German diplomatic offices. The U.S. also increased the number of federal departments that had to approve visa applications, amplifying the red tape.
Anne Frank's diaries describing her time in hiding gave a voice to millions who died at the hands of the Nazis.
They were ultimately deported to Auschwitz.
Otto Frank, the only member of the family to survive the war, eventually saw to the publication of the diary his daughter wrote in hiding. The Ymere housing association and the Anne Frank Foundation reached an agreement to sell the house to the foundation. Anne and her sister died in Bergen-Belsen camp.
The house where the Franks hid was turned into a museum that is one of Amsterdam's most popular tourist attractions.
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