Herman van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer- The other 2 fathers in Anne Frank’s annex

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We all know the story of Anne Frank but we don’t really know that much of the others who hid in the secret annex.

On Father’s day lets have a look at the other 2 Fathers who stayed with Anne Frank and her family.

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Hermann van Pels, (31 March 1898 – October 1944), known as Hermann (Hans in the first manuscript) van Daan in Anne’s diary, died in Auschwitz, being the first of the eight to die. He was the only member of the group to be gassed. However, according to eyewitness testimony, this did not happen on the day he arrived there. Sal de Liema, an inmate at Auschwitz who knew both Otto Frank and Hermann van Pels, said that after two or three days in the camp, van Pels mentally “gave up”, which was generally the beginning of the end for any concentration camp inmate. He later injured his thumb on a work detail and requested to be sent to the sick barracks. Soon after that, during a sweep of the sick barracks for selection, he was sent to the gas chambers. This occurred about three weeks after his arrival at Auschwitz, most likely in very early October of 1944, and his selection was witnessed by both his son Peter and by Otto Frank.

Hermann van Pels begins working with Otto Frank in 1938. Miep Gies remembers him as “tall, large man” and “quite an agreeable sort, [who] had no trouble fitting into the routine” in the company.

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Hermann acquired his knowledge of the butcher’s trade by working in the business of his father, Aron van Pels (who was originally Dutch). After his marriage to Lina Vorsänger, Aron settled down in Gehrde, Germany. He worked there for his German father-in-law, a wholesaler in butchers’ equipment. Aron and Lina had six children: Max, Henny, Ida, Hermann, Klara and Meta. Hermann was born on March 31, 1898. He became the representative of his father’s business in Osnabrück, Germany.

On December 5, 1925 he married the German Auguste (Gusti) Röttgen. She then became Dutch, since according to German law women automatically assumed the nationality of their husbands.

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Gusti was born on September 29, 1900 in Buer, near Osnabrück, and her father was a merchant. Hermann and Gusti lived in Osnabrück, near the Dutch border, where Peter was born on November 8, 1926.

Peter van Pels

Fritz Pfeffer (30 April 1889 – 20 December 1944) was a German dentist and Jewish refugee who hid with Anne Frank during the Nazi Occupation of the Netherlands, and who perished in the Neuengamme concentration camp in Northern Germany.

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Pfeffer was given the pseudonym Albert Dussel in Anne’s diary, and remains known as such in many editions and adaptations of the publication.

His cause of death was listed in the camp records as “enterocolitis”, a catch-all term that covered, among other things, dysentery and cholera.

Fritz Pfeffer was born in Gießen, Germany, one of the five children of Ignatz Pfeffer and Jeannette Hirsch-Pfeffer, who lived above their clothing and textiles shop at 6 Marktplatz in Giessen. After completing his education, Fritz trained as a dentist and jaw surgeon, obtained a license to practice in 1911 and opened a surgery the following year in Berlin.

He served in the German Army during the First World War.

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In 1926 married Vera Bythiner (31 March 1904 – 30 September 1942), who was born in Posen in Imperial Germany (now Poznań, Poland). The marriage produced a son, Werner Peter Pfeffer (3 April 1927 – 14 February 1995), then the couple divorced in 1932. Fritz was granted custody of the boy and raised him alone until November 1938,

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when the rising tide of Nazi activity in Germany persuaded him to send him into the care of his brother Ernst in England. Werner emigrated to California in 1945 after his uncle’s death and changed his name to Peter Pepper, later establishing a successful office supplies company under that name.

The tide of antisemitism in Germany, which increased from the election of Adolf Hitler in 1933, forced most of Fritz’s relatives to flee the country. His mother had died in 1925; his father remarried and remained in Germany, only to be arrested; he died in Theresienstadt in October 1942. His elder brother Julius Pfeffer had died in 1928, Emil Pfeffer emigrated to South Africa in 1937, Ernst Pfeffer moved to England and died in 1944, and Hans left for New Jersey. Their sister Minna remained with their father in Germany and died in Nazi custody. Vera escaped to the Netherlands but was arrested in 1942 and died in Auschwitz.

In 1936 Fritz met a young woman, Charlotte Kaletta (1910–1985), born in Ilmenau, Thuringia in central Germany, who shared his history of a broken marriage. She was estranged from her first husband, Ludwig Lowenstein, and their son Gustaf. The couple moved in together but were prohibited from marrying under the 1935 Nazi Nuremberg Laws which forbade marriages between Jews and non-Jews.

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Kristallnacht cemented their decision to leave Berlin and they fled to Amsterdam in December 1938.

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They were there for two years before the German invasion, and subsequent anti-Jewish laws which did not permit the co-habitation of Jews and non-Jews forced them to officially separate and register under different addresses. After establishing a dental practice in Amsterdam’s Rivierenbuurt he became acquainted with the Van Pels and Frank families. Miep Gies met Pfeffer at one of the Franks’ house parties and became a patient in his dental practice.

n the autumn of 1942, he decided to go into hiding and asked Miep Gies about some suitable addresses. She consulted Otto Frank, who, with his and the van Pels family, was being hidden by her in secret rooms in the Franks’ office building. Frank agreed to accommodate Pfeffer, and he was taken into their hiding place on 16 November, where his medical degree came in handy as they could not contact a doctor while in hiding.

Margot Frank moved into a room with her parents, to allow Pfeffer to share a small room with Anne, beginning what would become a torturous relationship for both.

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It has been suggested by at least one biographer that Anne’s extreme discomfort at sharing her room with a middle-aged man while she was going through puberty may have been at the root of her problems with Pfeffer, but the pressures of being in hiding and the generational differences of their forty-year age gap undoubtedly exacerbated the differences in their natures. Pfeffer felt his age gave him seniority over Anne and wrote off her writing activities as unimportant compared to his own studies. His observance of orthodox Judaism clashed with her liberal views. Her energy and capriciousness grated on his nerves, while his pedantry and rigidity frustrated her. Anne’s irritations and growing dislike of Pfeffer led to complaints and derisory descriptions of him in her diary, against which his son Werner and wife Charlotte defended him once the book was published.The relationship of Anne and Fritz was the toughest of all.

Fritz Pfeffer met zoon Werner, Berlijn, 1937/1938.

Pfeffer left a farewell note to Charlotte and they stayed in touch through Miep, who met her on a weekly basis to exchange their letters and take provisions from her.

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His letters never disclosed the location of his hiding place and Miep never revealed it, but on 4 August 1944 Pfeffer and the seven other occupants of the hiding place were arrested for deportation to Nazi concentration camps.

With the rest of the group and two of their protectors, Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, Pfeffer was taken to the Nazi headquarters in Amsterdam-South, then to a prison for three days before being transported to Westerbork on 8 August. Pfeffer was taken to the Punishment Barracks with the others, where he undertook hard labour, until he was selected for deportation to Auschwitz on 3 September. He was separated from the others on arrival on 6 September and sent to the men’s barracks, where he was reunited with Otto Frank. On 29 October he was transferred with 59 other medics to Sachsenhausen and from there to Neuengamme on an unknown date. There, he died at age 55 in the sick barracks, of enterocolitis on 20 December 1944, according to the camp’s records.800px-Neuengamme_(Dove_Elv_Schild)

 

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Anne Frank

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Anne Frank would have turned 88 today so on her birthday what better time to reflect on her life.

I will focus more on her younger years prior to her diary. So much has already been written about Anne, I doubt there will be anything new in this blog, it is nevertheless important to remember Anne and through her all those who perished.

Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank  born 12 June 1929.

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(Anne Frank’s birthplace, the Maingau Red Cross Clinic)

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Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she lived most of her life in or near Amsterdam, Netherlands, having moved there with her family at the age of four-and-a-half when the Nazis gained control over Germany.

The roots of the family of Anne Frank can be traced back to the Judengasse (Jews’ lane) in Frankfurt am Main. From 1462, this was the ghetto of the city. All 110 Jews who had previously lived in the centre of the city had to move there. At either end of the lane were gates that were closed on Christian holidays.

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In 1925, Otto Frank married Edith Holländer, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist from Aachen.Her ancestors had moved to Germany from Amsterdam. Although the Holländers were not orthodox, Edith’s father was a prominent member of the Jewish community. They ran a kosher household and attended synagogue regularly. The Franks, on the other hand, were assimilated Jews. After their honeymoon, the couple moved into the house of Otto’s mother Alice. Otto’s sister Leni, her husband Erich and their two sons Stephan (1921-1980) and Bernhard, known as Buddy (1925), were already living there. Otto and Edith Frank’s older daughter, Margot, was born in 1926 and their younger daughter, Anne, was born in 1929.

On January 30, 1933, Hindenburg, President of the Reich, appointed Hitler Chancellor of the Reich, and as early as April 1 a boycott against the Jewish population came into force. SA commandos occupied the entrances to Jewish department stores and shops, and prevented access to law firms and medical practices owned by Jewish citizens.
The Franks also decided to leave Germany. Otto Frank moved to Amsterdam in 1933, where he set up a branch of Opekta-Werke. In 1934 he sent for his wife and daughters, Margot and Anne, who were eight and five years old, to join him in Amsterdam. The family settled down well into life in the Netherlands.

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When the German army attacked the Netherlands in May 1940 and then occupied the country, anti-Jewish laws were issued there as well. Jews were increasingly limited in their professional and social life. When Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend the same school as non-Jewish children, Anne Frank switched to the Jewish Lyceum.

For her thirteenth birthday on 12 June 1942, Anne received a book she had shown her father in a shop window a few days earlier. Although it was an autograph book, bound with red-and-white checkered cloth and with a small lock on the front, Frank decided she would use it as a diary, and she began writing in it almost immediately.

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In her entry dated 20 June 1942, she lists many of the restrictions placed upon the lives of the Dutch Jewish population

Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl found Anne Frank’s diaries after the family had been deported.

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The women were secretaries for Opekta-Werke, where Anne Frank’s father had also worked, and were members of the group of helpers who had hidden the family.
Miep kept the diaries in the hope that she would be able to return them to Anne Frank one day. When, after the war, she found out that Anne Frank had died in the concentration camp, she handed the notebooks and loose sheets to Anne Frank’s father Otto Frank, the sole survivor of the family.

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Anne Frank’s possessions

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Some Jewish children gave away their toys when they had to report for transport or went into hiding. Marbles were a child’s prized possession. The night before they were transported, a few children in the South of Amsterdam were known to have said: ‘Let’s just toss them!’ They threw their marbles out the window, hoping other children in the neighbourhood would gather them up.

Shortly before going into hiding on 6 July 1942, with her parents and sister Margot in the Secret Annex on Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht, Anne Frank also left a few prized possessions behind. She gave her tea set, the book Nederlandsche sagen en legenden  (Tales and Legends of the Netherlands) that she’d also received on 12 June as a birthday gift and this metal tin of marbles to her neighbourhood friend Toosje Kupers.

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Anne was concerned that her treasured marble collection would fall into the wrong hands, so she asked Toosje to keep them for safe until her return.

 

Toosje Kupers had kept her promise to Anne. The marbles, tea set and book were still safe. She offered to return Anne’s treasures to her father, but Otto Frank told her to keep them.

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Otto Frank was the only one of the Frank family to survive the concentration camps. After the war, Toosje Kupers saw Anne’s father several times. When Anne Frank’s diary was published in 1947, Otto Frank personally gave Toosje a copy.

 

Rutka Laskier’s teenage account of the Holocaust.

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Rutka was 14 years old when she was murdered in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. In the months before her death, Rutka, like Anne Frank in Amsterdam, kept a detailed diary documenting her deepest thoughts and fears. When she and her family – younger brother Henius, mother Dorka and father Yaakov ,were moved by the Nazis from their home in the Polish town of Bedzin to a closed ghetto, she believed she would not survive and hid the notebook under a floorboard, telling only her friend Stanislawa Sapinska of its existence.

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From 19 January to 24 April 1943, without her family’s knowledge, Laskier kept a diary in an ordinary school notebook, writing in both ink and pencil, making entries sporadically. In it, she discussed atrocities she witnessed committed by the Nazis, and described daily life in the ghetto, as well as innocent teenage love interests. She also wrote about the gas chambers at the concentration camps, indicating that the horrors of the camps had filtered back to those still living in the ghettos.

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Below are some of her Diary entries.

January 19, 1943

“I cannot grasp that it is already 1943, four years since this hell began.”

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January 27, 1943

I had my photo taken. Although usually I don’t look pretty in photographs, in reality I am very beautiful. I’m tall, thin, with nice legs, a thin waist, elongated hands but ugly fingernails. I have big black eyes, thick brown eyebrows and long eyelashes. Black hair, trimmed short and combed back, a pug nose, nicely outlined lips, snow-white teeth. I would like to pour out all the turmoil I am feeling inside, but I’m incapable. Sometimes I’m so depressed, that when I open my mouth it’s only to sting someone.

February 5, 1943

The rope around us is getting tighter. Next month there should be a ghetto, a real one, surrounded by walls.

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In the summer it will be unbearable. To sit in a grey locked cage, without being able to see fields and flowers. I can’t believe that one day I’ll be able to leave the house without the yellow star.

 

The little faith I had has been shattered. If God existed, He would not have permitted that human beings be thrown alive into furnaces, and the heads of little toddlers be smashed with butt of guns or be shoved into sacks and gassed to death… Those who haven’t seen this would never believe it. But it’s the truth.

February 6, 1943.

Something has broken in me. When I pass by a German, everything shrinks in me. I don’t know whether it’s out of fear or hatred. Today, I recalled in detail the day of August 12, 1942 the mass round-up of Bedzin’s Jews for deportation.

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We got up at 4am. There were thousands of people on the road. I looked beyond the fence and saw soldiers with machine guns aimed at the square in case someone tried to escape. People fainted, children cried. Judgment Day. It was terribly hot. Then, all of a sudden, it started pouring. The rain didn’t stop. At 3pm the selection started. 1. meant returning home, 1a. going to labour, 2. meant going for further inspection and 3. deportation, in other words death. Mom, Dad and my brother were sent to group 1. I was sent to 1a. I was stunned. Salek, Linka and Niania already sat there. The weirdest thing was that we didn’t cry AT ALL. Little children were lying on the wet grass. The policemen beat them ferociously and shot them.

 

I sat there until 1am. Then I ran away. I jumped out of a window from the first floor of a small building, and nothing happened to me. My lips were bitten so bad that they bled. Oh, I forgot the most important thing. I saw how a soldier tore a baby, who was only a few months old, out of its mother’s hands and bashed his head against an electric pylon. The baby’s brain splashed on the wood. The mother went crazy. I’m 14, and I haven’t seen much in my life, and I’m already so indifferent. Janek came by this afternoon. He blurted out he’d like it very much if he could kiss me. I said “maybe”. But I won’t let him. I’m afraid it would destroy something beautiful, pure. I’m also afraid that I’ll be very disappointed.

February 20, 1943…
I have a feeling that I’m writing for the last time. There is an Aktion “resettlement” of Jews. This is hell. I try to escape from thoughts of the next day, but they haunt me like nagging flies.

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I was foolish about Janek. My eyes have been opened. The only thing that matters to him is that his pants are ironed, how many cakes he ate at Frontag’s coffee house and girls’ legs.
March 8, 1943…
I must pull myself together and not wet my pillow with tears. I am sick and tired of the steady fear seen in everybody’s faces. This fear clutches on to everyone and doesn’t let go.
April 24, 1943…
The sun is shining so brightly. Outside the windows apple trees and lilacs are blooming, and you have to sit in this suffocating and stinking room. The entire day I’m walking around the room, I have nothing to do.

Rutka was deported from the ghetto and was believed to have died in a gas chamber, age 14, along with her mother and brother, upon arrival with her family at the Auschwitz concentration camp in August 1943.Although there are reports she may have died later.

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While writing the diary, Laskier shared it with Stanisława Sapińska (21 years old, at that time), whom she had befriended after Laskier’s family moved into a home owned by Sapińska’s Roman Catholic family, which had been confiscated by the Nazis so that it could be included in the ghetto.Laskier gradually came to realise she would not survive, and, realizing the importance of her diary as a document of what had happened to the Jewish population of Będzin, asked Sapińska to help her hide the diary. Sapińska showed Laskier how to hide the diary in her house under the double flooring in a staircase, between the first and second floors.

After the ghetto was evacuated and all its inhabitants sent to the death camp, Sapińska returned to the house and retrieved the diary. She kept it in her home library for 63 years and did not share it with anyone but members of her immediate family. In 2005, Adam Szydłowski, the chairman of the Center of Jewish Culture of the Zagłębie Region of Poland, was told by one of Sapińska’s nieces about the existence of the diary

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With help from Sapińska’s nephew, he obtained a photocopy of the diary and was instrumental in the publishing of its Polish-language edition. Its publication by Yad Vashem Publications was commemorated with a ceremony in Jerusalem by Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority), Israel’s Holocaust museum, on 4 June 2007, in which Zahava Scherz took part. At this ceremony, Sapińska also donated the original diary to Yad Vashem, in violation of Polish law.

The diary, which has been authenticated by Holocaust scholars and survivors, has been compared to the diary of Anne Frank, the best known Holocaust-era diary. The two girls were approximately the same age when they wrote their respective diaries (Laskier at age 14 and Frank between the ages of 13 and 15), and, in both cases, of their entire families, only their fathers survived the war.

Karl Silberbauer-the man who arrested Anne Frank and her family.

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Karl Josef Silberbauer (21 June 1911 – 2 September 1972) was an Austrian police officer, SS-Oberscharführer (staff sergeant), and undercover investigator for the West German Federal Intelligence Service. Silberbauer is best known, however, for his activities in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam during World War II. In 1963, Silberbauer, by then an Inspector in the Vienna police, was exposed as the commander of the 1944 Gestapo raid on the Secret Annex and the arrests of Anne Frank, her fellow fugitives, and their protectors

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Born in Vienna, Silberbauer served in the Austrian military before following his father into the police force in 1935. Four years later, he joined the Gestapo, moved to the Netherlands, and in 1943 transferred to the Sicherheitsdienst in The Hague. He was then assigned to Amsterdam and attached to “Sektion IV B 4”, a unit recruited from Austrian and German police departments and which handled arrests of hidden Jews throughout the occupied Netherlands.

Silberbauer was employed directly by Eichmann and answered to him at Berlin’s infamous department IVB4, the headquarters of the programme to exterminate the Jews.

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His job was to transfer non-Jews who helped Jews, those who sheltered English pilots and those who listened to the English radio to concentration camps.

Silberbauer was the officer in charge of the Gestapo squad which arrested the Frank family on 4 August, 1944. After the War, the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal tracked down Silberbauer, who was working as police inspector in Vienna.

On 4 August 1944, Silberbauer was ordered by his superior, SS-Obersturmführer (lieutenant) Julius Dettmann, to investigate a tip-off that Jews were being hidden in the upstairs rooms at Prinsengracht 263.

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He took a few Dutch policemen with him and interrogated Victor Kugler about the entrance to the hiding place. Miep Gies and Johannes Kleiman were also questioned, and while Kugler and Kleimann were arrested, Gies was allowed to stay on the premises. Both Otto Frank and Karl Silberbauer were interviewed after the war about the circumstances of the raid, with both describing Silberbauer’s surprise that those in hiding had been there more than two years. Frank recalled Silberbauer confiscating their valuables and money, taking these spoils away in Otto Frank’s briefcase, which he had emptied onto the floor scattering out the papers and notebooks which made up the diary of Anne Frank.

Soon after, Gentile protectors Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, together with Otto Frank, Edith Frank-Holländer, Margot Frank, Anne Frank, Hermann van Pels, Auguste van Pels, Peter van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer, were arrested and taken to Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam.(below is the red cross card of Johannes Kleiman after his arrest)

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From there, the eight who had been in hiding were sent to the Westerbork transit camp and then to Auschwitz concentration camp. Soon after, Margo Frank and Anne Frank were sent to Bergen-Belsen, where they would die of typhus, three weeks before the camp was liberated by British forces. Victor Kugler and Jo Kleiman were sent to work camps. Of the ten, only Otto Frank, Kugler, and Kleiman survived.

Silberbauer returned to Vienna in April 1945 and served a fourteen-month prison sentence for using excessive force against members of the Communist Party of Austria.After his release, Silberbauer was recruited by the West German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), and spent ten years as an undercover operative. According to Der Spiegel reporter Peter-Ferdinand Koch, who learned of his postwar activities while researching BND employment of former Nazis, Silberbauer infiltrated neo-Nazi and Pro-Soviet organizations in West Germany and Austria. His BND handlers believed, correctly, that Silberbauer’s past membership in the SS would blind neo-Nazis to his true loyalties.

Possibly due to BND pressure, Silberbauer was reinstated by the Viennese Kriminalpolizei (Kripo) in 1954, four years after the German publication of Anne Frank’s diary and was promoted to the rank of Inspektor.

He is quoted as saying of Anne Frank’s diary: “I bought the little book last week to see if I am in it. But I am not. Maybe I should have picked it up off the floor.”

Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal began searching for Silberbauer in 1958, upon being challenged by Austrian Holocaust deniers to prove that Anne Frank actually existed. One Holocaust denier stated that, if Anne Frank’s arresting officer were found and admitted it, he would change his mind.

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During the 1948 Dutch police investigation into the raid on the Secret Annex, Silberbauer’s name had been disclosed as “Silvernagel”. The Dutch police detectives who had assisted with the raid were identified by Miep Gies, who recalled their commander as having a working-class Vienna accent.

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The Dutch policemen claimed to remember nothing except an erroneous form of their superior’s surname.

Wiesenthal considered contacting Anne’s father, Otto Frank, but learned that he was speaking out in favor of forgiveness and reconciliation. Otto Frank also believed that the person responsible for the denunciation to the Gestapo, not the arresting officers, bore the greatest responsibility. Wiesenthal, however, was determined to discredit the growing Holocaust denial movement and continued his search for “Silvernagel”. In late spring 1963, after ruling out numerous Austrians with similar names, Wiesenthal was loaned a wartime Gestapo telephone book by Dutch investigators. During a two-hour flight from Amsterdam to Vienna, Wiesenthal found the name “Silberbauer” listed as attached to “Sektion IV B 4” and could not wait for his plane to land.

Upon his arrival in Vienna, Wiesenthal immediately telephoned Dr. Josef Wiesinger, who investigated Nazi crimes for the Austrian Ministry of the Interior. Upon being told that Silberbauer might still be a policeman, Wiesinger insisted that there were “at least six men on the Vienna police force” with the same surname and demanded a written request. On 2 June 1963, Wiesenthal submitted a detailed request but was told for months that the Vienna police were not yet ready to release their findings.

In reality, the Vienna police identified Inspektor Silberbauer almost immediately.

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When he had admitted his role in arresting Anne Frank, the department had been terrified of the bad press that would result from disclosing his past. Therefore, the Vienna police suspended Silberbauer from the Kripo without pay, ordered him to “keep his mouth shut”, about the reasons for his suspension. Instead, Silberbauer lamented his suspension and disclosed the reasons for it to a colleague. His fellow officer, a member of the Communist Party of Austria, immediately leaked the story to the Party’s official newspaper, who published it on 11 November 1963. After Izvestia praised “the detective work of the Austrian comrades”, an infuriated Wiesenthal leaked Silberbauer’s address to the Dutch media. When reporters descended upon Silberbauer’s Vienna home, the policeman freely admitted that he had arrested Anne Frank.

Silberbauer’s memories of the arrest were notably vivid – he in particular recalled Otto and Anne Frank. When he asked Otto Frank how long they had been in hiding, Frank answered, “Two years and one month.” Silberbauer was incredulous, until Otto stood Anne against the marks made on the wall to measure her height since they had arrived in the annex, showing that she had grown even since the last mark had been made. Silberbauer said that Anne “looked like the pictures in the books, but a little older, and prettier. ‘You have a lovely daughter’, I said to Mr. Frank”.

Although he disclosed what he knew, Silberbauer was unable to provide any information that could help further the Dutch police’s investigation into the Dutch collaborator who provided the tip. He explained that the call was taken by his commanding officer, SS Lieutenant Julius Dettmann, who said only that the information came from “a reliable source”. As Dettmann had committed suicide in a POW camp after the end of the war, the second investigation also hit a dead end.

 

Although the Austrian government stated that the arrest of Anne Frank “did not warrant Silberbauer’s arrest or prosecution as a war criminal”, the Vienna Police convened a disciplinary hearing. Among the witnesses was Otto Frank, who testified that Silberbauer had “only done his duty and behaved correctly” during the arrest. Otto Frank added, however, “The only thing I ask is not to have to see the man again.”

As a result, the police review board exonerated Silberbauer of any official guilt. His unpaid suspension was lifted and the Vienna police assigned him to a desk job in the “Identification Office”, or Erkennungsamt.

However ,Silberbauer,was not only responsible for ruining the lives of Anne Frank and her family but of hundreds of other Dutch people.

Inspektor Karl Joseph Silberbauer died in Vienna in 1972.

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https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/08/04/the-betrayal-of-anne-frank-and-her-family/

Edith Frank- the sacrifice of a mother

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We all know the story of Anne Frank and there is no denying that her diary was very important to get an insight to how life was for those who had to hide for the evil Nazi regime. However people do sometimes forget about the other women and men who hide in the annex  in Amsterdam.

Edith was the youngest of four children, having been born into a German Jewish family in Aachen, Germany. Her father, Abraham Holländer (1860–1928) was a successful businessman in industrial equipment and was prominent in the Aachen Jewish community as was her mother, Rosa Stern (1866–1942). Her occupation is unknown. Edith had two older brothers, Julius and Walter, and an older sister, Bettina.

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Bettina died at the age of 16 due to appendicitis when Edith was just 14.

She met Otto Frank in 1924 and they married on his 36th birthday, May 12, 1925, at Aachen’s synagogue.

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They had two daughters born in Frankfurt, Margot, born 16 February 1926, followed by Anne, born 12 June 1929.

The rise of Antisemitism and the introduction of discriminatory laws in Germany forced the family to emigrate to Amsterdam in 1933, where Otto established a branch of his spice and pectin distribution company. Her brothers Walter (1897–1968) and Julius (1894–1967) escaped to the United States in 1938, and Rosa Holländer-Stern left Aachen in 1939 to join the Frank family in Amsterdam..

In 1940 the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and began their persecution of the country’s Jews. Edith’s children were removed from their schools, and her husband had to resign his business to his Dutch colleagues Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, who helped the family when they went into hiding at the company premises in 1942.

The two-year period the Frank family spent in hiding with four other people (their neighbours Hermann van Pels, his wife Auguste Van Pels and his son Peter Van Pels, and Miep Gies’s dentist Fritz Pfeffer) was famously chronicled in Anne Frank’s posthumously published diary, which ended three days before they were anonymously betrayed and arrested on 4 August 1944.

During the hiding period, Edith was often depressed. Miep describes a confidential conversation with Edith Frank:

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“What she needed to talk about, which she couldn’t talk about in front of the others, was that she was suffering under a great weight of despair. Although the others were counting the days until the Allies came, making games of what they would do when the war was over, Mrs. Frank confessed that she was deeply ashamed of the fact that she felt the end would never come.

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After detainment in the Gestapo headquarters on the Euterpestraat and three days in prison on the Amstelveenweg, Edith and those with whom she had been in hiding were transported to the Westerbork concentration camp. From there, they were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp on 3 September 1944, the last train to be dispatched from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

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Edith and her daughters were separated from Otto upon arrival and they never saw him again. On 30 October another selection separated Edith from Anne and Margot. Edith was selected for the gas chambers, and her daughters were transported to Bergen-Belsen.

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Edith escaped with a friend to another section of the camp, where she remained through the winter. While here she hid each scrap of food she would get and saved it for her daughters. Because of her refusal to eat any of the food she was saving for her daughters she died from starvation on January 6, 1945, three weeks before the Red Army liberated the camp and 10 days before her 45th birthday. Her daughters outlived her by one month

 

The betrayal of Anne Frank and her Family.

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Today marks the 73rd anniversary of Anne Frank’s arrest.

I will not go to deep into Anne Frank’s story because so much is already written about her by people who know an awful lot about her then I do. I want to focus on that fateful day and the aftermath.

On a warm summer’s day on August 4 1944, four Gestapo policemen raided a canal warehouse at 263 Prinsengracht, Amsterdam.

The eight Jewish people hiding in the annex there were arrested: Otto Frank, his wife and two children; the van Pels family of three; and Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist. They were taken to Westerbork Kamp and from there herded into cattle wagons bound for Auschwitz. Of the eight, only Otto returned.

 

On the morning of 4 August 1944, following a tip from an informer who has never been identified, the Achterhuis was stormed by a group of German uniformed police (Grüne Polizei) led by SS-Oberscharführer Karl Silberbauer of the Sicherheitsdienst and members of the NSB

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The doors to the stockroom stood open, and the first to enter was the Austrian Nazi SS Oberscharführer Karl Silberbauer, followed by the Dutch NSB members (Dutch national socialists, allied to the Nazis) Gezinus Gringhuis, Willem Grootendorst and Maarten Kuiper. The hiders were taken away (and apparently their number was more than expected, as a second car had to be called for), along with two of the four helpers present that day. The remaining staff was not interfered with.

The Franks, van Pelses, and Pfeffer were taken to RSHA headquarters(Reich Main Security Office), where they were interrogated and held overnight. On 5 August they were transferred to the Huis van Bewaring (House of Detention), an overcrowded prison on the Weteringschans. Two days later they were transported to the Westerbork transit camp, through which by that time more than 100,000 Jews, mostly Dutch and German, had passed. Having been arrested in hiding, they were considered criminals and sent to the Punishment Barracks for hard labor.

During the raid, a policeman emptied Otto’s briefcase to fill it with the fugitives’ valuables. In his haste, he dropped a batch of papers and a small diary belonging to Otto’s daughter. This diary, the diary of Anne Frank, was to become the most widely read document to emerge from the Holocaust.

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Of the eight Jewish hiders, only Otto Frank returned after the war, as did the two arrested helpers Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler. The Secret Annex had been betrayed, but by who?

There are 3 main suspects.

Firstly there is Tonny Ahlers a member of the NSB the Dutch Nazi party.

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Ahlers was a violent anti-semite. By the early 1940s he had a lengthy criminal record and had been involved in numerous brawls in Jewish-owned cafes. During the war he denounced Jews and members of the Dutch underground to the Germans. In 1945, Ahlers was tried for his wartime activities and sent to prison.

Tonny Ahlers visited Otto Frank at his office in April 1941, to confront him with a letter addressed to the NSB that mentioned a conversation between Frank and Job Jansen, a former employee. In this conversation, Otto Frank had expressed negative views about the German occupier. Ahlers said that he worked as a courier for the SD (Nazi security service) and for the NSB, and said that he had intercepted the letter by chance. Subsequent investigations showed that he was indeed a frequent visitor at the Security Service, but that his role as courier was simply made up. It is known that Frank twice gave money to Ahlers, though probably not more than 50 guilders altogether. It has not been established that Ahlers visited Frank regularly.

Ahlers was notoriously anti-Semitic, for which he was also convicted after the war, but also an inveterate liar and a braggart. This makes it difficult for researchers to distinguish fact from fiction. Can Ahlers have been the betrayer personally, or did he pass on information to the Nazi Security Service, for example? The latter is possible. Ahlers started a business in the same kind of commodities as Otto Frank’s business. This would have given him access to the stockroom of Opekta / Pectacon, later Gies & Co., when coming to collect ordered goods at Prinsengracht. In this way he may also have had contact with the stockroom manager Willem van Maaren. It is regrettable that Ahlers’ widow, Martha van Kuik, was not interrogated extensively. She was an eye-witness and may have known and seen a great deal. She is still alive today. Carol Ann Lee, biographer of Otto Frank (2002), was the first to present this theory about Tonny Ahlers. In her book she works towards identifying Ahlers as the betrayer, yet without explicitly labeling him as such. It remains a speculative theory, woven into her pages. The Dutch television program Andere tijden, aired on March 12, 2002, explores Lee’s theory.

Willem van Maaren

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Stockroom manager Willem van Maaren was suspected of the betrayal for many years, although he never sided with the Nazis. He stole goods and was generally considered dishonest. In Anne’s diary it becomes clear that the Annex occupants also did not trust him. However, inquiries conducted after the war did not turn up any evidence that he was the betrayer. On the other hand, his eager inquisitiveness was very striking. In all sorts of ways, he tried to establish whether people had entered the stockroom in the evening or during the night. From what he noticed, he must have concluded that this was indeed the case. Another very unusual moment occurred when he asked the employees whether there had previously been a Mr. Frank at the office. It is unknown how he came to that name, or why he asked that question. Van Maaren supplied goods to various customers, but it cannot be determined whether Ahlers was one of these. That Ahlers and Van Maaren knew each other, so that Van Maaren may have tried to obtain information for Ahlers, is yet another theory that sounds plausible but that cannot be proven.

 

Nelly Voskuijl

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Nelly Voskuijl, a younger sister of Bep Voskuijl (in the photo), one of the helpers of Anne Frank and her family in the secret annex in Amsterdam, possibly disclosed in 1944 the hiding place of the Frank’s to SS commander Karl Silberbauer. In 2015, Flemish journalist Jeroen de Bruyn and Joop van Wijk, Bep Voskuijl’s youngest son, wrote a biography, Bep Voskuijl, het zwijgen voorbij: een biografie van de jongste helper van het Achterhuis (Bep Voskuijl, the Silence is Over: A Biography of the Youngest Helper of the Secret Annex), in which they alleged that Bep’s younger sister Nelly (1923–2001) could have betrayed the Frank family. According to the book, Bep’s sister Diny and her fiance Bertus Hulsman recollected Nelly telephoning the Gestapo on the morning of 4 August 1944  Nelly had been critical of Bep and their father, Johannes Voskuijl, helping the Jews. (Johannes was the one who constructed the bookcase covering the entrance to the hiding place.) Nelly was a Nazi collaborator . Karl Silberbauer, the SS officer who received the phone call and made the arrest, was documented to say that the informer had “the voice of a young woman.

It could of course also have been a coincidence.As the period of hiding went on for longer, the hiders became less careful. Curtains were opened beyond just a crack, rooftop windows inadvertently stayed open, accidental noises became more frequent, and so on. All in all, the visible evidence mounted for the world outside that there were people in the building after office hours. People in the outside world may quite innocently have mentioned this in conversation, which could have been overheard by the wrong persons. In this scenario, the name of the night watchman Martin Sleegers plays a prominent role. Following the report of a burglary in the premises in April 1944, he and a police officer went to investigate. They actually fumbled with the bookcase that hid the entrance to the Secret Annex. Anne describes this burglary in her diary entry of April 11, 1944. There is no concrete evidence that Sleegers betrayed the hiders. While it is a fact Sleegers knew the NSB member Gringhuis (who was present at the arrest), this in itself does not constitute proof.

On 3 September 1944, the group was deported on what would be the last transport from Westerbork to the Auschwitz concentration camp and arrived after a three-day journey. On the same train was Bloeme Evers-Emden, an Amsterdam native who had befriended Margot and Anne in the Jewish Lyceum in 1941.

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Bloeme saw Anne, Margot, and their mother regularly in Auschwitz, and was interviewed for her remembrances of the Frank women in Auschwitz in the television documentary The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank (1988) by Dutch filmmaker Willy Lindwer and the BBC documentary Anne Frank Remembered (1995).

In early 1945, a typhus epidemic spread through Bergen-Belsen, killing 17,000 prisoners. Other diseases, including typhoid fever, were rampant.Due to these chaotic conditions, it is not possible to say what ultimately caused Anne’s death. Witnesses later testified Margot fell from her bunk in her weakened state and was killed by the shock. Anne died a few days after Margot. The exact dates of Margot and Anne’s deaths were not recorded. It was long thought that their deaths occurred only a few weeks before British soldiers liberated the camp on 15 April 1945,but new research in 2015 indicated that they may have died as early as February of that year.Among other evidence, witnesses recalled that the Franks displayed typhus symptoms by 7 February, and Dutch health authorities reported that most untreated typhus victims died within 12 days of their first symptoms.After liberation, the camp was burned in an effort to prevent further spread of disease; the sisters were buried in a mass grave at an unknown location.

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I have often been to  Amsterdam but never got the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank house, mainly due to the sheer amount of people trying to get in.

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It is good to see that so many people are still interested in her story.

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