GENEVA (Aug. 20)
Otto Frank, founder of the Frank Foundation in The Netherlands, and survivor of the infamous Nazi death camp Auschwitz, died today in a hospital in Basel, Switzerland, at age 91. Frank was the father of Anne Frank, whose moving diaries recounted her family’s 25 months of hiding from the Nazis and made her posthumously world renowned.
On the 50th anniversary of his daughter’s birth, June, 1979, Frank attended the opening of a commemorative exhibition in the house containing the secret annex in which his family hid. Gestapo collaborators informed the Nazis of the Frank’s whereabouts in August 1944 and the family was deported to Bergen-Belsen, where the mother and five children were killed.
Anne began writing her diary, which has been translated into more than 50 languages and has sold more than 14 million copies, when the family hideout began. “I had given her an exercise book on her 13th birthday and she started the diary on the first day. She only read a few amusing passages from it to us,” the older Frank reminisced.
After the Gestapo raided the annex where the Franks hid, the diary, which was scattered on the floor, was retrieved by Frank’s friends. During the following 17 years, Frank refused to have it published saying it was his daughter’s testament and legacy. He was later convinced by friends to have the diary published saying, “I believe that only information can ensure that the horror and suffering of the past remain in the past and does not become present.”
On Frank’s instructions, the original diary is now kept in a bank vault in Basel.
The funeral for Frank will take place Friday, in Birsfelden, near Basel, where he has resided since 1951.