A report published on Friday by the Anne Frank House museum revealed that the Frank family died in the Holocaust, not because they were denied visas to the US, but because their paperwork got lost.
Anne Frank was a German-born Jewish girl whose family was forced into hiding when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands. The family was discovered and arrested in 1944 and taken to concentration camps where everyone except the father, Otto Frank, was killed. Anne’s diary was published in 1947 under the title “Diary of a Young Girl” and has become one of the classic descriptions of the horrors the Jews suffered during the Holocaust.
The Franks lost their German citizenship in 1941 and fled to Amsterdam and it has long been speculated that they perished because they were denied entrance into the US.
“Although the United States had a far from generous policy with regard to Jewish refugees, it is clear that Otto, Edith, Margot and Anne Frank were not refused entry to the United States,” the new study states. Due to rapidly-changing circumstances connected to World War II, the family’s “immigration visa application to the American consulate in Rotterdam was never processed.”
According to Gertjan Broek, a researcher at the Anne Frank House, and Rebecca Erbelding from the United States Holocaust Museum, Anne’s father began trying to escape to the US as early as 1938. At the time, the US had no refugee policy but did have quotas based on national origin.
“There were also obstacles from the United States,” the study noted. “In the absence of an asylum policy, Jews seeking to escape Nazi persecution in Europe had to go through a protracted emigration procedure. There was limited willingness to accept Jewish refugees.”
The Franks’ plight was exacerbated when one visa application was lost in a German bombardment of Rotterdam in 1940.
“The conclusion must be that both the Frank and van Pels families’ attempts were not successful because of the rapidly growing numbers of applicants for a small number of openings on the quota lists; the unwillingness of the president, State Department and Congress (or the American people) to open immigration beyond the limits set by the 1924 quota laws or to endeavor to fill these quotas; and, eventually, the impact of the war on the possibility of escape,” Broek and Erbelding wrote in the report.