Letters by Otto Frank to be Released 14 February
If the reports are correct, the father of Anne Frank wrote letters to friends, family, aid organisations, and US officials. He was desperately trying to find some way to get his wife and daughters passage out of Holland to a place where they would be safe from the Nazi menace that ultimately killed them. Many of them were written in 1941, up until the date when Germany declared war on the US.
The file also includes letters from family members in the US, and from a friend Otto Frank made in his university days, Nathan Straus Jr., son of the founder of Macy's. The file is at least half an inch thick, and include documentation of Otto Frank's efforts to secure his family passage to the United States or Cuba. Since the US had closed their consulate in Holland, some of the letters discuss possibilities such as an escape through Spain, departing for North America by way of Portugal, which was neutral.
This file apparently originally came from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, one of the organisations that sought to help Jews seeking to flee a Europe darkened by the clouds of rising Nazi oppression. Sadly, the letters do not seem to have ever received a reply, probably due to the unforgiving nature of US immigration policy, which condemned many Jews to their deaths who might otherwise have been saved. It is a reminder of our past many of us are ashamed of, yet one we must not forget. We may not be able to alter that past, but we can make sure we don't repeat its mistakes.
The letters have been held at YIVO since at least 1974, when the last of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society's archives was transferred to their care. No one was aware of their presence in these archives, and they were only discovered two years ago. Their existence has remained a secret since YIVO felt it necessary to consider the legal implications of this find. It is appalling such an important find should have to be kept hidden from the world for so long for such a trivial reason, but I can hardly blame YIVO for fearing entanglement with lawyers.
YIVO's plans are to hold a press conference and release the documents on the 14th of February. I hope the press will be well represented, and that they will give this story the importance it deserves. Whether or not it is the lead story on the evening news, I know I will be paying special attention to all news outlets on the 14th. Tears may not seem a good mix with Valentine's Day, but, for me at least, this is too important to put off.