Otto Frank

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For the physiologist of the same name, see Otto Frank (physiologist).
Otto Frank
Otto Frank (1961).jpg
Otto Frank (1961)
Born Otto Heinrich Frank
(1889-05-12)12 May 1889
Frankfurt am Main, German Empire
Died 19 August 1980(1980-08-19) (aged 91)
Birsfelden, Basel-Landschaft, Switzerland
Cause of death Lung cancer
Nationality German,(rev)
Swiss, Dutch
Occupation Banker, spice merchant[1]
Known for father of Anne Frank; The Diary of a Young Girl
Spouse(s) Edith Holländer (1925–1945; her death)
Elfriede Geiringer (1953–1980; his death)
Children Margot and Anne
Parent(s) Michael Frank
Alice Stern Frank

Otto Heinrich "Pim" Frank (12 May 1889 – 19 August 1980) was a German-born Swiss businessman. He was the father of Anne and Margot Frank. As the sole member of his family to survive the Holocaust, he inherited Anne's manuscripts after her death, arranged for the publication of her diary as The Diary of a Young Girl in 1947, and oversaw its transition to the stage and screen.

Early life[edit]

Otto Frank was born into a wealthy Jewish family. He was the second son of Alice Betty (née Stern) and Michael Frank.[2] His elder brother was Robert Frank, and younger siblings were Herbert Frank and Helene (Leni) Frank.[3] Otto was a cousin of the well known furniture designer Jean-Michel Frank, and a grandson of Zacharias Frank. He studied economics in Heidelberg from 1908 to 1909 and had a work experience placement at Macy's Department Store in New York City.[4]

World War I[edit]

Frank served in the Imperial German Army during the First World War. He was called up for military service in August 1915 and after training at a depot in Mainz he served in an artillery unit on the Western Front in which most soldiers were mathematicians and surveyors. He was attached to the infantry as a range-finder at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and in 1917 he was promoted in the field to lieutenant and then served at the Battle of Cambrai.[4][5]

Marriage and children[edit]

He worked in the bank his family ran until it collapsed in the early 1930s. He married Edith Holländer - an heiress to a scrap-metal and industrial-supply business - on his birthday, 12 May 1925, in Frankfurt. Their elder daughter, Margot Frank (Margot Betti), was born on 16 February 1926, followed by their younger daughter Anne (Annelies Marie) on 12 June 1929.[6] His wife Edith Hollander died of starvation in Auschwitz. His daughters, Margot and Anne would be transferred to Belsen Concentration Camp where Margot would die of Typhus just before the camp was liberated by the Allies. Anne would see the liberation but would die 3 days later from Typhus.

After the war he married Elfriede Geiringer in 1953. Geiringer's daughter Eva Schloss, who became then his stepdaughter, had been a friend of Anne Frank; she would help him with the Anne Frank Fonds and use her struggles along with the tragedy of the Frank family to fight for human rights.

World War II[edit]

As the tide of Nazism rose in Germany and anti-Jewish decrees encouraged attacks on Jewish individuals and families, Otto decided to evacuate his family to the safer western nations of Europe. In August 1933 he moved his family to Aachen, where his wife's mother resided, in preparation for a subsequent and final move to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. There he started a company, Opekta, that sold spices and pectin for use in the manufacture of jam. After Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, Otto made his business look "Aryan" by transferring control to non-Jews.

In 1938 and 1941, Frank attempted to obtain visas for his family to emigrate to the United States or Cuba. He was granted a single visa for himself to Cuba on 1 December 1941, but it is not known if it ever reached him. Ten days later, when Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States, the visa was cancelled.[7][8]

Otto Frank took his family into hiding on 6 July 1942 at the age of 53, in the upper rear rooms of the Opekta premises on the Prinsengracht. They were joined a week later by Hermann van Pels, who was known as Herman van Daan in Anne's diary, and his wife and son, and in November by Fritz Pfeffer, also known in Anne's diary as Mr. Dussel. Their concealment was aided by Otto Frank's colleagues Johannes Kleiman, whom he had known since 1923, Miep Gies, Victor Kugler, and Bep Voskuijl.

They were concealed for two years, until they were found in August 1944, perhaps as a result of a tip from an anonymous traitor informant, or inadvertently by authorities investigating another matter.[9][10] Frank, his family, the four people he hid with, and Kugler and Kleiman were arrested by SS Officer Karl Silberbauer. After being imprisoned in Amsterdam, the Jewish prisoners were sent to the Dutch transit camp of Westerbork and finally to Auschwitz Birkenau. During his time at Auschwitz, Otto Frank wrote to his mother in Switzerland. She had fled there in 1933 after Hitler came to power.[2][11] It was at Auschwitz, in September, that Frank was separated forever from his wife and daughters. He was sent to the men's barracks and found himself in the sick barracks when he was liberated by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. He travelled back to the Netherlands over the next six months and set about tracing his arrested family and friends. By the end of 1945, he knew he was the sole survivor of the family, and of those who had hidden in the house on the Prinsengracht.

Post-war life[edit]

After Anne Frank's death was confirmed in the summer of 1945, her diary and papers were given to Otto Frank by Miep Gies, who had rescued them from the ransacked hiding place. Frank left them unread for some time but eventually began transcribing them from Dutch for his relatives in Switzerland. He was persuaded that Anne's writing shed light into the experiences of many of those who suffered persecution under Nazis and was urged to consider publishing it. He typed out the diary papers into a single manuscript and edited out sections he thought too personal to his family or too mundane to be of interest to the general reader. The manuscript was read by Dutch historian Jan Romein, who reviewed it on 3 April 1946, for the Het Parool newspaper. This attracted the interest of Amsterdam's Contact Publishing, and, in the summer of 1946, they accepted it for publication.

Otto Frank is now recognized as a co-author of the diary.[12]

On 25 June 1947, the first Dutch edition of the diary was issued under the title Het Achterhuis (meaning: "The [Secret] Annex"). Its success led to an English translation in 1952, which subsequently led to a theatrical dramatisation and a cinematic version.

Otto Frank married a former neighbor from Amsterdam[13] and fellow Auschwitz survivor, Elfriede Geiringer (1905–1998), in Amsterdam on 10 November 1953, and both moved to Basel, Switzerland, where he had family, including relatives' children, with whom he shared his experiences.

In response to a demolition order placed on the building in which Otto Frank and his family had hidden during the war, he and Johannes Kleiman helped establish the Anne Frank Foundation on 3 May 1957, with the principal aim of saving and restoring the building, to allow it to be opened to the general public. With the aid of public donations, the building (and its adjacent neighbour) was purchased by the Foundation. It opened as a museum (the Anne Frank House) on 3 May 1960, and it can still be visited today.

Otto Frank died of lung cancer on 19 August 1980 in Basel.[14]


  1. ^ Carol Ann Lee, The Hidden Life of Otto Frank (Harper Collins, 2003)
  2. ^ a b SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg, Germany. "Photo Gallery: Treasures of the Anne Frank Family". SPIEGEL ONLINE. 
  3. ^ SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg, Germany. "Photo Gallery: Treasures of the Anne Frank Family". SPIEGEL ONLINE. 
  4. ^ a b Otto Frank at Anne Frank Guide. Retrieved 29 May 2014
  5. ^ Lee, Carol Ann (2000). The Biography of Anne Frank – Roses from the Earth. London: Viking Press. ISBN 978-0-7089-9174-9. 
  6. ^ Carol Ann Lee, The Hidden Life of Otto Frank (Harper Collins, 2003), pp. 8–9
  7. ^ the only frank to escape a concentration camp "Anne Frank family letters released". 14 February 2007. Archived from the original on 16 February 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2007. 
  8. ^ Patricia Cohen (15 February 2007). "In Old Files, Fading Hopes of Anne Frank's Family". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2007. In order to reach a neutral country, Frank then tried to obtain a Cuban visa, a risky, expensive and often corrupt process. In a Sept. 8 letter to Straus, he wrote, "I know that it will be impossible for us all to leave even if most of the money is refundable, but Edith urges me to leave alone or with the children." On Oct. 12, 1941, he wrote, "It is all much more difficult as one can imagine and is getting more complicated every day." Because of the uncertainty, he decided first to try for a single visa for himself. It is granted and forwarded to Otto Frank on Dec. 1. No one knows if it ever arrived; 10 days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, and Havana cancelled the visa. 
  9. ^ Patricia Cohen (17 December 2016). "Anne Frank's arrest might not have stemmed from betrayal". Retrieved 17 December 2016. Perhaps the Sicherheitsdienst or SD (German Security Service) didn't come to hunt for Jews that day, but inadvertently found the two families in hiding while investigating another matter. 
  10. ^ Associated Press (17 December 2016). "New Study Casts Doubt on Theory Anne Frank Was Betrayed". NBC News. Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  11. ^ SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg, Germany. "Photo Gallery: Treasures of the Anne Frank Family". SPIEGEL ONLINE. 
  12. ^ Anne Frank has a co as diary gains co author in legal move, NYtimes, 2015-11-14
  13. ^ Goldsmith, Belinda (April 8, 2013). "Anne Frank's step-sister highlights post-Holocaust traumas". Reuters. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Otto Frank, Father of Anne, Dead at 91. Daughter's Famed Diary Described Life in Hiding From the Nazis. Family Died in Camps". United Press International. 21 August 1980. Retrieved 4 November 2010. Otto Frank, whose teen-age daughter Anne described two years of hiding from the Nazis in a diary that became world renowned, died in a hospital here last night. He was 91 years old. 

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