Seventy-six years ago, Anne Frank’s family tried to immigrate to the U.S. to escape Nazi Germany, but “their efforts were thwarted by American bureaucracy, war and time,” wrote historians at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The new report comes after an in-depth research project into the paper trail left by the family of the 15-year-old diarist — and an exploration of how difficult approval was for immigration decades ago amid anti-refugee sentiments.
“I am forced to look out for emigration and as far as I can see USA is the only country we could go to,” Otto Frank wrote in English to a friend in the United States in 1941, according to The Associated Press.
Three years earlier, he had filed papers with the American consulate in Rotterdam, but those papers were destroyed during German bombardment in 1940. Another attempt in 1941 also wasn’t successful because all American consulates in Germany-occupied Europe has been shuttered by the Nazis.
On 6 July 1942, 76 yrs ago #OnThisDay, the Frank family went into hiding in the #SecretAnnex. Today the @annefrankhouse and the @HolocaustMuseum present their report of their research into the attempts of Otto Frank, Anne’s father, to emigrate to the USAhttps://t.co/QQHT1mNEJT pic.twitter.com/RnW4LqMF2F
— Anne Frank House (@annefrankhouse) July 6, 2018
With the application process lasting a few years — paperwork and affidavits required from friends or relatives in the U.S. we’re required along with family birth certificates and more — there was still no guarantee of immigration, given a strict review process and the fact that hundreds of thousands of people were trying to flee to the U.S. every year during World War II. Around 30,000 people were accepted.
Otto Frank also apparently filed a visa application to Cuba, which didn’t go through, and ultimately the family went into hiding for two years before being discovered in 1944 and deported to Auschwitz, where Anne and her sister died. Her father survived the concentration camp and later, of course, her diary was published and told the story of one 15-year-old girl who spoke for an entire generation.