The efforts of Anne Frank’s family to emigrate to the United States were thwarted by “American bureaucracy, war, and time,” historians say.
New joint research by the Anne Frank House and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum indicates the family applied for American visas twice and Anne’s father, Otto Frank, applied for a Cuban visa. But these efforts were undermined by suspicious and skeptical immigration officials, wartime events and endless bureaucratic hurdles here and in Europe.
“I am forced to look out for emigration and as far as I can see the USA is the only country we could go to,” Otto Frank wrote in a letter to a friend living in New York.
Anne was 13 when she went into hiding from the Nazis with her family in the “Secret Annex,” a hidden enclave at the back of her father’s former office in Amsterdam, Netherlands. After her family was arrested by the German secret police in 1944, she was taken to a concentration camp in Bergen-Belsen, where she died shortly before the end of World War II.
She kept a diary throughout her time in hiding, and after her death, her father published it in 1947. The book remains one of the world’s best-read, and it transformed a young girl who had perished in the Holocaust into a potent symbol. An English version, The Diary of a Young Girl, was issued in 1952.
Based on new documents and interviews, the museums’ historians said the family appears to have collected numerous documents around 1938 and filed visa applications at the US consulate in Rotterdam, Netherlands – the only one in the country issuing visas.
But the consulate was destroyed in 1940 during a German bombardment as the family waited for an answer.