Because of the economic crisis Otto Frank’s business is struggling. This and the Nazi coup in 1933 make the Franks decide to emigrate. At the end of the year, the family moves to the Netherlands.

Difficult times in Germany

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Because of the economic crisis things are not going well at the Frank family bank. When Hitler and the NSDAP come to power in Germany in 1933 the situation gets worse for all German Jews. Otto Frank and his wife, Edith, decide they want to emigrate. When Otto gets the chance to set up a firm in Amsterdam the Franks leave Germany.

One of the last photos of Anne (left), Margot and their mother in Frankfurt. Fotocollectie Anne Frank Stichting

Financial problems

Otto and Herbert Frank have not been able to keep their father's bank running well since 1919. The bank is badly hit by the financial consequences of the First World War and legal restrictions on the movement of foreign currencies and securities. After a brief revival, the German economy slumps back into crisis after the stock market crash of 1929. The bank's affairs get steadily worse. Revenues are also falling at the other business Otto has been running since 1927, a factory making throat pastilles among other things. Otto's brother-in-law Erich Elias leaves for Switzerland in 1929 to work for the Opekta company there. Opekta sells pectin, a setting agent for making jam. Otto is looking for opportunities to settle abroad with his family, too.

Hitler becomes Reich chancellor

The winter of 1932-33 brings many changes for the Frank family and all other Jews in Germany. Adolf Hitler is appointed Reich chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933. Otto remembers later: "We happened to have been invited round to some acquaintances on 30 January. We were sitting round the table, listening to the radio. Then it was announced that Hitler had been made Reich chancellor. That was followed by a report about a torchlit procession by the SA in Berlin, and we could hear the shouting and cheering. Hitler ended his speech with the words: 'Give me four years!' Our host said cheerfully: 'Well, let's see what that man can do!' I was speechless, my wife was stunned."

Fears for the future

Otto and Edith are very worried about their future, but they do not show this to their daughters. Despite the difficult times, they want them to have a carefree childhood. However, in Margot's school portraits of Hitler are put up in every classroom. After Easter that year, Jewish pupils are sent to sit apart, so that they can be easily distinguished from the non-Jewish children.

Otto and Edith are very worried about their future, but they do not show this to their daughters. Despite the difficult times, they want them to have a carefree childhood. However, in Margot’s school portraits of Hitler are put up in every classroom. After Easter that year, Jewish pupils are sent to sit apart, so that they can be easily distinguished from the non-Jewish children.

In April 1933, Hitler's government issues a range of anti-Jewish measures. Jewish teachers are dismissed and Jewish children are shouted at and harassed. Margot's parents remove her from the school. Many other Jewish children leave too. Jewish pupils who stay on are graded a uniform "adequate" in all subjects, rather than good or very good. The idea is that Jews are supposed to be inferior so cannot be allowed to appear intelligent. The teachers are only allowed to give bad marks.

Because so many of my German countryman were turning into hordes of nationalistic, cruel, antisemitic criminals, I had to draw conclusions, and though this did hurt me deeply, I realised that Germany was not the world and I left my country forever.

Otto Frank

Emigration

Because they don't want their daughters to grow up in a country where their lives will be made difficult because of their origins, Otto and Edith decide to seek refuge in a foreign land. In March 1933, it is all arranged: Otto will go to the Netherlands to set up a branch of Opekta in Amsterdam. He is helped by his brother-in-law Erich. Otto stops work in Germany and settles in the Netherlands in July 1933. Edith, Margot and Anne move in temporarily with grandma Holländer in Aachen. Edith regularly travels to and fro between Germany and Amsterdam to look for a house for the family. Once they have a home, Margot moves to Amsterdam in autumn 1933. Anne follows in February 1934.

Exposantenkaart Otto Frank
Exhibitor's card for Otto's participation in a trade fair in Rotterdam, September/October 1933. © Anne Frank Fonds, Bazel / Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam

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