A letter written by Anne Frank's father appealing for help in getting his family out of Nazi-occupied Holland will be one of hundreds of items associated with the Frank family that will be put up for auction this fall.
The Doyle New York auction house will be holding the sale on November 5. The archive includes letters, photographs and personal items associated with the Frank family, many of them from the 1936-1941 period. It's estimated that it will fetch between $20,000 and $30,000 at auction.
The items are personal, emotional, historical - and sometimes all three. The letter mentioned above, for example, dated June 30, 1941, was written in English by Otto Frank to his friend, the retailer Nathan Straus. The two met when Frank was a student at Heidelberg University.
In it, he wrote: "It is a pity that for the present all efforts will be useless as the AMERICAN CONSULATE at ROTTERDAM is leaving and nobody knows as yet if things will be handled further or not. So we have to wait. Bad luck, but cannot be helped. Let us hope that conditions will get more normal again. As soon as I hear that there are chances still I shall let you know and you certainly will be informed still better than I am about the possibilities which remain."
The collection being auctioned belonged to the Austrian actor Joseph Schildkraut, who portrayed Otto Frank in both the stage and film versions of "The Diary of Anne Frank" that were produced during the 1950s. The archive includes approximately 50 letters between Frank and Schildkraut or his wife Leonora, as well as a transcript of a letter written from Otto Frank to Anne in 1939.
Most of the items were given to Schildkraut by Otto Frank, to help the actor prepare for the role.
The first letter Otto Frank wrote to the actor was dated February 1955, after Schildkraut was chosen to play him in the stage version of "The Diary of Anne Frank," directed by Garson Kani. It reads: "My fate, during the period of hiding and after was, when compared with other fellow sufferers, a privileged one. Both through being able to stay as long as I did with my own family ... Also in the concentration camp many of my comrades suffered more than I, since I was never subjected to personal torture.
"Again my behavior after I learned of the fate of my loved ones must never be looked upon as heroism. Thousands of others received the same dreadful news and had to find a way to live with it. It is part of my nature to look at life from a positive point of view and that explains, perhaps, why I have tried to rebuild my life as normally as I possibly could."
The Franks moved from Germany to Amsterdam in 1933, the year the Nazis came to power. They went into hiding in July 1942 and were discovered two years later. Anne, her sister Margot and their mother Edith were sent to Auschwitz, where the latter died. Anne and Margot died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen. Otto Frank, the only member of the family to survive, found and published Anne's diary after the war. He died in 1980.
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