Monday, 27 May, 2019

Research suggests Anne Frank's family tried to escape to US

Research suggests the family of Anne Frank attempted to immigrate to the United States Research suggests the family of Anne Frank attempted to immigrate to the United States Credit GETTY
Deanna Wagner | 09 July, 2018, 05:31

"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".

"She has allowed millions of people, maybe hundreds of millions of people, to identify with persecution at the worst level", said Richard Breitman, a professor emeritus at American University who has written about the family's attempts to immigrate to the United States. 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.

"The United States had no specific refugee policy prior to World War II", write Rebecca Erbelding and Gertjan Broek, authors of research jointly published by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. In 1938, the United States imposed a quota of 27,370 immigration visas for immigrants from Germany and annexed Austria (this quota applied to the Franks because they were German born).

When the Rotterdam consulate reopened, Otto Frank once again began collecting the paperwork required for the family's visas, according to Nicole Chavez of CNN. Otto Frank subsequently applied for a visa to Cuba, but his application was cancelled four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. But on May 14, 1940, while the Franks were still on an immigration waiting list, the consulate was hit by German bombs. In June of 1939, there were 309,782 Germans on the waiting list for a visa, meaning that the Frank family would likely have waited years before securing an interview at the consulate.

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. In the same way that unfounded USA suspicion of Japanese Americans led to internment camps, unsubstantiated paranoia about German spies led to discrimination against Jewish-German immigrants.

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His efforts to get the family out of the Netherlands to the United States likely started as early as 1938 - a turbulent year in which Nazi Germany annexed Austria and part of Czechoslovakia into the Third Reich. The U.S. also increased the number of federal departments that had to approve visa applications, amplifying the red tape.

Otto Frank then turned his attention to Cuba, where he hoped to use admission to the island as a "jumping board to the United States", the new report says. "Since the Frank family had never become Dutch citizens", Erbelding and Broek write, "they were now officially stateless". In short, the Franks probably wouldn't have succeeded.

"All their attempts failed, so going into hiding was their last attempt trying to get out of the hands of the Nazis", said Annemarie Bekker from the Anne Frank House.

While the Franks were not explicitly denied visas by the American consulate, "their efforts were thwarted by American bureaucracy, war and time", the historians wrote.