In search of Anne Frank’s father’s letters

May 27, 2015 by Natalia Thomas
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The Sydney Jewish Museum and Holland’s iconic Anne Frank House have launched a search for a series of typed and hand written letters that Otto Frank wrote to Australian pen pals in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.

Alan and Anne Slade

Alan and Anne Slade

The father of the famous diarist received a large amount of correspondence in the years that followed the English publication of The Diary of Anne Frank, most penned by girls the same age as Anne or older.  While the Anne Frank house has retained all the letters sent to Otto, his replies were not copied or archived.

Museum volunteer Anne Slade is spearheading the campaign to locate the letter writers:

“We’re hoping to make contact with anyone who corresponded with Otto Frank during this period, and who would be willing to give the originals to The Anne Frank House or allow copies to be made for their archives. We also hope to display the letters at the Anne Frank exhibition at the Sydney Jewish Museum in February.”

Anne and her husband Alan first learned of the letters when they visited the Anne Frank House last year and toured the Touring Exhibition with manager Levien Rouw.

“We were surprised and fascinated by this unknown Australian connection and wanted to do what we could to help track the letters down. The connection is also a powerful one for my husband, who lost many relatives in the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, where Anne and Margot also died.”

Levien Rouw believes that the letters are vital to gaining additional insights about Otto.  “The correspondence says a lot about the way the Diary of Anne Frank was received at that time & also about the ideals of Otto Frank and his way of dealing with the loss of his family.  Probably the contact with the girls who wrote letters, was a kind of substitute for not having his two daughters anymore.”

The names on Levien Rouw’s list include two from Sydney: Anne Finlayson of Queenscliff and Elyse Wallace of Hurstville. Other names are Bett Hatch of Fremantle, WA, Carol Davidson of Niddrie, North Essendon and Carlton, VIC, and Diane Munro of Brisbane and later, Invercargill, New Zealand.

A letter from Otto:

Otto-Frank-Page-One-Letter

Otto-Letter2

If you or someone you know is one of the people who wrote to Otto Frank and you still have his letters, please contact Anne Slade on 0418 670 352 or email: anne@styletto.com.au

 

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