Anne Frank Museum Must Give Up Family Archive, Dutch Court Rules

Court orders Amsterdam charity to give Frank family archive, containing 25,000 items from several generations, to charity in Switzerland.

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A Dutch court on Wednesday ordered one Anne Frank charity to give the Frank family archive back to another charity in Switzerland, following an uncomfortable public dispute over the Jewish teenager's legacy.

The Amsterdam District Court ruled the Anne Frank Foundation in Amsterdam must give the archive back to the Anne Frank Fund in Basel, Switzerland, by Jan. 1.

The archive contains 25,000 letters, documents and photos from several generations. The Fund loaned the archive to the Foundation in 2007, but demanded it back in 2010 with plans to create a new Frank family museum in Frankfurt.

The two organizations have a history of strained relations, as the Fund has accused the Foundation of commercializing the memory of the Holocaust victim.

The Foundation, best known for operating the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam, said it understood the loan was intended to be long-term, possibly permanent, and it could not return the archives on short notice. It also said that some items in the archive belong to it.

The ruling Wednesday said that six months' time was enough to give back the overwhelming majority of documents whose ownership is not in dispute. Judges rejected the Fund's request that the Foundation suffer large fines for every day it fails to return the archives.

"There is no reason to believe the Foundation won't obey this ruling, given that the ownership of the ... (archive) is not in dispute," it said. It noted that the Foundation has had time to make high-quality digital copies of the documents in the archive.

"Both parties recognize these are unique objects of great historical interest."

Anne Frank hid with her family in a tiny secret apartment in Amsterdam for two years during the Nazi occupation before they were caught and deported. Anne died in a concentration camp at age 15. Her father Otto Frank survived the war and published the diary Anne kept while in hiding. It has become the most widely read document to emerge from the Holocaust.

In the years before his death in 1980, Otto was involved with the creation of the Anne Frank House, which has increasingly become a major destination for tourists.

But he granted the Fund publishing rights to the diary, and made it the heir to the family estate.

Photos of Anne Frank during an exhibit at The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. Credit: AFP

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