Amsterdam , 11/2/2012
The Anne Frank House has acquired an important collection of letters, photos and documents relating to Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank. The collection originates from the estate of the actor Joseph Schildkraut, who corresponded with Otto Frank in the early 1950s in preparation for his role as Otto in the stage version of Anne’s diary.
The collection includes a number of unique letters and documents concerning Otto Frank’s attempts to emigrate to the USA with his family before they went into hiding. The Anne Frank House was able to acquire the collection thanks to a contribution from the BankGiro Lottery.
The diary of Anne Frank became especially popular in the USA after it was adapted into a stage play. Otto Frank, the only one of the eight people in hiding in the ‘Secret Annexe’ to survive the war, was closely involved in the creation of the play. In the correspondence between Otto Frank and the actor Joseph Schildkraut, Otto answers questions that Schildkraut has in preparation for his role. The correspondence forms an important source for the history of the creation of the play and its success in the USA, and provides a wealth of information on the Frank family and the period in hiding. The collection also includes photos of the Frank family, the Van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer (the other people in hiding in the Secret Annexe), and the helpers Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, Bep Voskuijl and Miep and Jan Gies.
The estate of Joseph Schildkraut also contains letters and documents of Otto Frank that Nathan Straus, a good friend of Otto Frank from the USA, gave to Schildkraut to help him prepare for his role. In a letter from 1936, Otto writes to Nathan that his children are doing well, but that the threat of the Nazism is also tangible in the Netherlands. There are also various documents, including a letter from Otto to Nathan from 1941, which concern Otto Frank’s attempts to emigrate to the USA with his family. These letters and documents are the bitter testimony to the hopeless situation in which the Frank family found itself.
Among its other activities, Anne Frank House curates the Otto Frank archive. The archive contains letters on the publication of the diary and the creation of stage plays and films, correspondence of Otto Frank with readers of the diary, documents connected with legal actions against neo-Nazis and documentation on the history of the Anne Frank House. The collection from the estate of Joseph Schildkraut is a valuable addition to the Anne Frank House’s archives.
The Otto Frank collection that has been acquired originates from the estate of Joseph Schildkraut, whose widow, Leonora Schildkraut, consigned it to the auction house, Doyle New York. With the mediation of Doyle New York, Leonora Schildkraut withdrew the collection from the auction, and the Anne Frank House was able to acquire it thanks to a contribution from the BankGiro Lottery.