Otto Frank marries Edith Holländer in 1925 and they have two daughters, Margot and Anne. Their family life is happy, but there are business troubles.

Anne’s parents

Edith, Otto and Margot Frank in Aachen, 26 June 1926. Fotocollectie Anne Frank Stichting
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Otto Frank serves in the army during the First World War, then joins a bank. In the early 1920s he meets Edith Holländer, the daughter of a wealthy businessman. They marry in 1925. In the following years they have two daughters, Margot and Anne. Although he has a lovely family, his business is not doing well.

"I know a little about father's past and what I don't know I have imagined," Anne writes in her diary on 8 February 1944. "I think I know that father married mother because he thought mother suitable to take the place as his wife. I have to say I admire mother for the way she has taken that place and as far as I know never complained and was never jealous." Anne and her mother clash regularly during their time in hiding, but she still manages to appreciate her parents' marriage. "Father accepts mother the way she is, is often irritated, but says as little as possible because he knows what sacrifices she has had to make."

Otto’s youth

Otto Heinrich Frank is born in the German city of Frankfurt am Main on 12 May 1889. He has two brothers, Robert and Herbert, and a sister, Helene, who is known in the family as Leni. They are a well-to-do family. From the age of twelve Otto lives in a handsome house on the Beethovenplatz. He attends secondary school at the Lessing Gymnasium in Frankfurt, and sits his final exams in 1908. He gets good grades. He spends the summer term doing an art history course at the University of Heidelberg, and then joins a bank in Frankfurt for a year as an intern.

New York

During his summer in Heidelberg Otto makes friends with Nathan Strauss, the son of one of the owners of the well known New York department store Macy's. In autumn 1909 Otto goes to New York to work in Macy's as a trainee clerk. Three days after his arrival on 14 September, his father, Michael Frank, dies. Otto returns to Germany as fast as possible to be with the family. Two months later he is back in America. He will remain there until June 1911, apart from a few short trips home to Frankfurt. On his return to his home city, Otto starts work as a clerk in a company producing a wide range of goods, from ironware and building materials to lamps and glass.

First World War

The First World War breaks out in 1914 and Otto is drafted into the German army the following year. He trains as a gunner and is stationed on the Western Front from autumn 1915. Here, serving as an observer and field telephone operator, he is involved in the Battle of the Somme, in which almost half a million German soldiers were killed. A year later he is promoted to non-commissioned officer When the war ends in 1918 Otto joins the bank founded by his father, which specialises in securities and foreign exchange. After Michael Frank's death Otto's mother, Alice, kept the bank going, but now Otto and his brother Herbert take charge.

Otto Frank (in the middle) and three other soldiers during the First World War. The backside of the photograph reads: 'Otto, July 1917'. © Anne Frank Fonds, Bazel / Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam

Edith's Youth

Otto first meets Edith Holländer in 1921 or 1922 when his brother becomes engaged to a close friend of Edith's. Edith - born on 16 January 1900 in the German city of Aachen – is the youngest child of Abraham Holländer and Rosalie Holländer-Stern, a manufacturing couple who belong to the city's Jewish . Edith's father owns two companies, a metal processing works and a company that builds and repairs trailers and railway freight wagons. Because business is good, the family is wealthy. Edith has two brothers and a sister: Julius, Walter and Bettina. They enjoy a carefree childhood, marred only by the death of Bettina in 1914.

Edith’s schooldays

All that is known of Edith's schooldays is that she attends ten grades of the evangelical Victoria Lyceum. There are lots of Jewish girls at the school, but most of the pupils are Christians. Edith is a diligent student. She also enjoys sport, playing tennis and swimming. After finishing school, she goes to work in her father's business. Religion plays an important role in her life. She reads a lot, enjoys going to parties and likes pretty things and clothes. „We listen open-mouthed to stories of engagement parties with 250 guests, private balls and dinners," Anne writes in her diary on 8 May 1944.

Otto and Edith’s wedding

Otto and Edith get engaged in Aachen on 5 April 1925. The civil wedding is four weeks later, on 8 May, and on 12 May – Otto's 36th birthday – the marriage is blessed in the synagogue of Aachen. A photograph from the day shows Otto and Edith laughing among a big crowd of relatives. There's a big reception for all the wedding guests in the evening. The menu card from the event reveals the grand and extensive dinner that was served. After the ceremony, Otto and Edith go to San Remo in Italy for their honeymoon. A photograph taken on this trip shows the new couple sitting on a rock on the beach, looking radiant and happy.

May 1925: Otto en Edith Frank in San Remo (Italy) during their honeymoon. © Anne Frank Fonds, Bazel / Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam

Life in Frankfurt

For a while, Otto and Edith live with Otto's mother in Frankfurt. This is where Margot, their first daughter, is born in February 1926, nine months after their wedding. Anne follows three and a half years later. By then the family is living in a different house, on the Marbachweg. Otto is a sociable man and a caring father, but he can also be very strict. He works hard for the family bank while Edith attends to the housekeeping. In his limited free time he likes to read. He also likes to make time to play games with his daughters, photograph them and talk to them. Otto and Edith are both closely involved with their daughters' education.

Financially bad times

After the First World War economic conditions in Germany deteriorate. Inflation is sky-high and there are heavy restrictions on the foreign exchange market. This increasingly affects the Frank family bank. Otto searches for new opportunities to help the bank make money. In 1923, he and his brother set up an Amsterdam branch. In Amsterdam, Otto gets to know Johannes Kleiman and gives him power of attorney. Johannes will manage the bank when Otto and Herbert are not in Amsterdam.

From 1927 Otto also takes charge at Sodener Mineral Produkte G.m.b.H., a company that makes throat pastilles and has been in the family for years. Unfortunately, revenues are falling in this business too. In 1932, the Frank family bank goes bankrupt. The Frank family's financial troubles must have been difficult for Edith, particularly at the start of her marriage to Otto. She grew up in a family that lacked nothing. Now she had to live in a smaller house and with less luxury than she was used to.

A good marriage

To mark their fourteenth wedding anniversary in 1939, when the family had been living in Amsterdam for more than five years, Otto writes a letter to Edith. He emphasises how harmonious the marriage has been, despite the difficult times they are experiencing. He thanks Edith for her love and care, and writes that they should both strive to teach their children a "sense of solidarity, tolerance and standing up for others." Former neighbour Gertrud Naumann remembers years later how much she liked to visit Otto and Edith in Frankfurt, dropping by almost every day. According to Gertrud, they were always very kind to each other and to other people.

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