NEW YORK - Newly disclosed letters written by the father of diarist Anne Frank illuminate his desperate attempts to get the family out of Nazi-occupied Netherlands.
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, a New York-based institution that focuses on the history and culture of Eastern European Jews, said yesterday that it found the file among 100,000 other Holocaust-related documents about 11/2 years ago.
The institute did not immediately disclose the find because it had to explore copyright and other legal issues, YIVO spokeswoman Cathy Callegari said yesterday.
On Feb. 14, she said, it will release Otto Frank's letters and documents and records from various agencies that helped people emigrate from Europe.
Callegari said the documents included letters that Otto Frank wrote to relatives, friends and officials between April 30 and Dec. 11, 1941, when Germany declared war on the United States. The letters document how Otto Frank tried to arrange for his family - wife Edith, daughters Margot and Anne, and mother-in-law Rosa Hollander - to go to the United States or Cuba.
His attempts to arrange a route out of the Netherlands were unsuccessful. The family took refuge in July 1942, hiding in a secret annex in an Amsterdam warehouse with several other Jews before being betrayed by an informant and arrested by the Gestapo in 1944.
Anne Frank described the family's life in hiding in a diary that has sold 75 million copies. She died of typhus at age 15 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in 1945. Her father, the only family member to survive the Holocaust, lived until 1980.
The Franks' hiding place is now the Anne Frank House museum. Museum spokeswoman Patricia Bosboom said that officials there had not seen the documents but that the letters would fit with the general picture that is known about Otto Frank's many efforts to get his family out of Europe.
The disclosure of the letters came as a surprise to Bernd "Buddy" Elias, Anne Frank's cousin and president of the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, Switzerland. The foundation, established by Otto Frank, holds the rights to Anne's writings, according to its Web site.
"We would love to have them in our archive," Elias said. "I mean, we are the heirs of Otto Frank."
The letters were initially held by the New York City-based Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which gradually transferred its archives to YIVO in 1974. The aid society's archives consisted of documents from various agencies, Callegari said, and the true origin of the Otto Frank letters might never be known.
Time magazine first reported on the newly discovered documents on its Web site yesterday.
A special German panel
in Berlin ruled yesterday against returning a valuable collection of rare posters - stolen by the Nazis in 1938 - to the son of the artwork's Jewish owner.
Peter Sachs, 69, of Sarasota, Fla., was only a year old when his father's collection of 12,500 posters was seized and his family fled Germany
for the United States.
The panel cited a 1966 letter from the father and
a 1960s-era compensation payment of $50,000 as grounds for keeping the posters in Germany.
Sachs had been invited to address the panel in an effort to win the return
of what is left of the collection: about 4,300 posters with a value of
$10 million to $50 million, held by Berlin's German Historical Museum.
Sachs said the ruling left him "inexpressibly saddened." It was not immediately clear what legal action Sachs might take, his attorney said.
Sachs had argued that the compensation had been
paid when it was assumed that the collection had been destroyed in World War II, and that once his father, Hans, learned that part of it had survived, he started trying to get access to it.
- Associated Press
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