Otto Frank

Otto Frank
Otto Frank

Otto Frank
Born Otto Heinrich Frank
12 May 1889(1889-05-12)
Frankfurt, Germany
Died 19 August 1980(1980-08-19) (aged 91)
Birsfelden, Switzerland
Cause of death Lung cancer
Nationality German (rev), Dutch, Swiss
Occupation Banker, spice merchant[1]
Known for father of Anne Frank; The Diary of a Young Girl
Religion Jewish
Spouse 1) Edith Holländer (her death)
2) Elfriede Geiringer
Children Margot Frank, Anne Frank (both deceased)

Otto Heinrich "Pim" Frank (12 May 1889 – 19 August 1980) was a German-born businessman and the father of Anne Frank and Margot Frank. As the sole member of his family to survive the Holocaust, he inherited Anne's manuscripts after her death, arranged for the publication of her diary in 1947, and oversaw its translation to the stage and screen.


Early life

Frank was born in Frankfurt. He was the second son of Michael Frank and Alice Stern Frank. His siblings were Robert Frank, Helene (Leni) Frank, and Herbert Frank. Otto was a cousin of the well known furniture designer Jean-Michel Frank, and a grandson of Zacharias Frank.

Frank served in the German army as an officer during the First World War. He worked in the bank his family ran until it collapsed in the early 1930s. He married Edith Holländer—an heiress to a scrap-metal and industrial-supply business—on 12 May 1925 in Frankfurt, and their first daughter, Margot Betti, was born on 16 February 1926, followed by Anne (Annelies Marie) on 12 June 1929.[2]

World War II

As the tide of Nazism rose in Germany and anti-Jewish decrees encouraged attacks on Jewish individuals and families, Frank decided to evacuate his family to the safer western nations of Europe. In August of 1933 he moved his family to Aachen, where his wife's mother resided, in preparation for a subsequent and final move to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. There he started a company, Opekta, that sold spices and pectin for use in the manufacture of jam. After Germany invaded Holland in May of 1940, Otto made his business look "Aryan" by transferring control to non-Jews.

In 1938 and 1941, Frank attempted to obtain visas for his family to emigrate to the United States or Cuba. He was granted a single visa for himself to Cuba on 1 December 1941, but no one knows if it ever reached him. Ten days later, when Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States, the visa was canceled by Havana.[3][4]

Otto Frank took his family into hiding on 6 July 1942 in the upper rear rooms of the Opekta premises on the Prinsengracht. They were joined a week later by Hermann van Pels and his wife and son, and in November by Fritz Pfeffer, also known in Anne's diary as Mr. Dussel. Their concealment was aided by Otto Frank's colleagues Johannes Kleiman, whom he had known since 1923, Miep Gies, Victor Kugler, and Bep Voskuijl.

They were concealed for two years, until they were betrayed by an anonymous informant in August 1944. Frank, his family, the four people he hid with, and Kugler and Kleiman were arrested by SS Officer Karl Silberbauer. After being imprisoned in Amsterdam, the Jewish prisoners were sent to the Dutch transit camp of Westerbork and finally to Auschwitz. It was here, in September, that Frank was separated forever from his wife and daughters. He was sent to the men's barracks and found himself in the sick barracks when he was liberated by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945. He travelled back to the Netherlands over the next six months and set about tracing his arrested family and friends. By the end of 1945, he knew he was the sole survivor of the family, and of those who had hidden in the house on the Prinsengracht.

Post-war life

After Anne Frank's death was confirmed in the summer of 1945, her diary and papers were given to Otto Frank by Miep Gies, who had rescued them from the ransacked hiding place. He left them unread for some time but eventually began transcribing them from Dutch for his relatives in Switzerland. He was persuaded that Anne's writing shed light into the experiences of many of those who suffered persecution under Nazis and was urged to consider publishing it. He typed out the diary papers into a single manuscript and edited out sections he thought too personal to his family or too mundane to be of interest to the general reader. The manuscript was read by Dutch historian Jan Romein, who reviewed it on 3 April 1946, for the Het Parool newspaper. This attracted the interest of Amsterdam's Contact Publishing, and in the summer of 1946, they accepted it for publication.

On 25 June 1947, the first Dutch edition of the diary was issued under the title Het Achterhuis (meaning literally: "the back house"). Its success led to an English translation in 1952, which subsequently led to a theatrical dramatisation and a cinematic version.

Otto Frank married a former neighbor from Amsterdam and fellow Auschwitz survivor, Elfriede Geiringer (1905–1998), in Amsterdam on 10 November 1953, and both moved to Basel, Switzerland, where he had family.

In response to a demolition order placed on the building in which Otto Frank and his family had hidden during the war, he and Johannes Kleiman helped establish the Anne Frank Foundation on 3 May 1957, with the principal aim of saving and restoring the building, to allow it to be opened to the general public. With the aid of public donations, the building (and its adjacent neighbour) was purchased by the Foundation. It opened as a museum (the Anne Frank House) on 3 May 1960, and it can still be visited today.

Otto Frank died of lung cancer on 19 August 1980 in Basel.[5]


  1. ^ Carol Ann Lee, The Hidden Life of Otto Frank (Harper Collins, 2003)
  2. ^ Carol Ann Lee, The Hidden Life of Otto Frank (Harper Collins, 2003), pp. 8–9
  3. ^ "Anne Frank family letters released". 14 February 2007. Archived from the original on 16 February 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2007. 
  4. ^ Patricia Cohen (15 February 2007). "In Old Files, Fading Hopes of Anne Frank's Family". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2007. "In order to reach a neutral country, Frank then tried to obtain a Cuban visa, a risky, expensive and often corrupt process. In a Sept. 8 letter to Straus, he wrote, “I know that it will be impossible for us all to leave even if most of the money is refundable, but Edith urges me to leave alone or with the children.” On Oct. 12, 1941, he wrote, “It is all much more difficult as one can imagine and is getting more complicated every day.” Because of the uncertainty, he decided first to try for a single visa for himself. It is granted and forwarded to Otto Frank on Dec. 1. No one knows if it ever arrived; 10 days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, and Havana cancelled the visa." 
  5. ^ "Otto Frank, Father of Anne, Dead at 91. Daughter's Famed Diary Described Life in Hiding From the Nazis. Family Died in Camps". United Press International. 21 August 1980. Retrieved 4 November 2010. "Otto Frank, whose teen-age daughter Anne described two years of hiding from the Nazis in a diary that became world renowned, died in a hospital here last night. He was 91 years old." 

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