Frank, Otto Heinrich “Pim”.

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Frank, Otto Heinrich.
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Frank,Otto Heinrich “Pim”, born 12-05-1889 in Frankfurt am Main, into a Jewish family. He was the second of four children born to Alice Betty (born Stern, 1865–1953)   and Michael Frank (1851–1909). His elder brother was Robert Frank, and younger siblings were Herbert Frank and Helene “Leni” Frank.  Otto was a cousin of the well-known furniture designer Jean-Michel Frank  and a grandson of Zacharias Frank. His father originally came from the town of Landau, and moved to Frankfurt am Main, in the Marbachweg 307  in 1879, marrying Alice Stern in 1886. He studied economics in Heidelberg from 1908 to 1909 and had a work experience placement at Macy’s Department Store in New York City. However, after leaving for New York, he had to return home briefly after his father died in September 1909, before once again leaving for the United States, returning to Germany two years later in 1911.

Otto Frank served in the Imperial German Army during the First World War.  He was called up for military service in August 1915 and after training at a depot in Mainz, he served in an artillery unit on the Western Front in which most soldiers were mathematicians and surveyors. He was attached to the infantry as a range-finder at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. In 1917 he was promoted in the field to Leutnant and served at the Battle of Cambrai. 

Frank worked in the bank that his father initially ran, which subsequently he and his brothers took over until it collapsed in the early 1930s. He married Edith Holländer – an heiress to a scrap-metal and industrial-supply business – on his 36th birthday, 12 May 1925, at the synagogue in Aachen, Edith’s home town. Edith was 25 when they married.  Their elder daughter, Margot Frank (Margot Betti),

  was born 16-02-1926, followed by their younger daughter, Anne (Annelies Marie), on 12-06-1929. Edith died of starvation in Auschwitz. Margot and Anne were transferred from Auschwitz to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where they died, possibly of typhus.

Frank married Elfriede Geiringer  in 1953. Geiringer’s daughter, Eva Schloss later assisted him with the Anne Frank Fonds.

As the tide of Nazism rose in Germany and anti-Jewish decrees encouraged attacks on Jewish individuals and families, Otto decided to evacuate his family. In August 1933 they relocated to Aachen, where his mother-in-law resided, in preparation for a subsequent and final move to Amsterdam at Merwedeplein 37, second floor. in the Netherlands.

  

In the same year, Otto’s widowed mother Alice fled to Switzerland.

Otto’s brother-in-law Erich Elias,  (husband of his younger sister Leni  and father of Buddy Elias) worked in Basel for Opekta, a company that sold spices and pectin  for use in the manufacture of jam. Originating in Germany, the company was looking to expand its operations in Europe, and Erich arranged for Otto to work as Opekta’s agent in Amsterdam, allowing Otto to have an income to support his family. After Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, Otto made his business look “Aryan” by transferring control to non-Jews. 

In 1938 and 1941, Frank attempted to obtain visas for his family to emigrate to the United States or Cuba. He was granted a single visa for himself to Cuba on 01-12-1941, but it is not known if it ever reached him. Ten days later, when Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy declared war on the United States, the visa was cancelled.

At age 53, Otto Frank took his family into hiding on 06-07-1942 in the upper rear rooms of the Opekta premises on the Prinsengracht.

They were joined a week later by Hermann van Pels,  who was known as Herman van Daan in Anne’s diary, his wife, Auguste van Pels  and their son, Peter van Pels.  In November, the group was joined by Fritz Pfeffer,  known in Anne’s diary as Alfred Dussel. Their concealment was aided by Otto Frank’s colleagues Johannes Kleiman,   whom he had known since 1923, Hermine “Miep  Gies,  Victor Kugler , and Bep Voskuijl . Johannes Kleiman was due to poor health, released after a few weeks. He returned to the company on the Prinsengracht. He took over the leadership again.and died in Amsterdam, on 28-01-1959, age 62, Miep Gies died age 100 in Hoorn, on 11-01- 2010, Bep Voskuijl died also in Amsterdam, on 06-05-1983, age 63. On 11 September 1945, Victor Kugler was transferred to Camp Amersfoort concentration camp. Here he would be transported to Germany, but an air raid during the Battle of Arnhem will destroy the Amersfoort station. Instead of going to Germany, Victor Kugler will be excavating tank ditches in Zwolle on 11 September with 1100 others. On 30-12-1944, the prisoners from Zwolle were transferred to Wageningen to also perform groundwork there. This lasted until 28-03-1945. On March 28, 600 prisoners, including Kugler, marched through Renkum, Heelsum, Oosterbeek, Arnhem, Westervoort to Zevenaar to cross the border. In Zevenaar the group was attacked and shot at by British Spitfires. Here he escaped, and went into hiding with a farmer. A few days later he left for the IJssel by bike.After being in hiding in Lathum and escaping a raid in Barneveld, Victor Kugler came back home in Hilversum on Good Friday. Victor Kugler after an agony with Alzheimer’s disease died at the age of 81 on 14-12-1981 in Toronto, Canada..

The group hid for two years until their discovery in August 1944, perhaps as a result of a tip from an anonymous informant or inadvertently by authorities investigating another matter.The group, along with Kugler and Kleiman, were arrested by the Austrian SS Oberscharführer Karl Silberbauer.

  Silberbauer, Karl Josef After being imprisoned in Amsterdam, the Jewish prisoners were sent to the Dutch transit camp of Westerbork and finally to Auschwitz Birkenau. During his time at Auschwitz, Otto Frank wrote to his mother in Switzerland, where she had fled in 1933 when Hitler came to power. It was at Auschwitz in September that Frank was separated forever from his wife and daughters. He was sent to the men’s barracks and found himself in the sick barracks when he was liberated by Soviet troops on 27-01-1945, age 55. He traveled back to the Netherlands over the next six months and set about finding his family and friends. By the end of 1945, he realized he was the sole survivor of the family and of those who hid in the house on the Prinsengracht .

After Anne Frank’s death was confirmed in the summer of 1945, her diary and papers were given to Otto Frank by Miep Gies,  who rescued them from the ransacked hiding place. Frank left them unread for some time but eventually began transcribing them from Dutch for his relatives in Switzerland. He was persuaded that Anne’s writing shed light on the experiences of those who suffered persecution under the Nazis and was urged to consider publishing it. He typed out the diary into a single manuscript, editing out sections he thought too personal to his family or too mundane to be of interest to the general reader.

Otto Frank married former Amsterdam neighbor and fellow Auschwitz survivor[ Elfriede Geiringer (1905–1998)  in Amsterdam on 10-11-1953, and both moved to Basel, Switzerland, where he had family, including relatives’ children, with whom he shared his experiences.

In response to a demolition order placed on the building in which Otto Frank and his family hid during the war, he and Johannes Kleiman helped establish the Anne Frank Foundation on 03-05-1957, with the principal aim to save and restore the building so it could be opened to the general public. With the aid of public donations, the building and the adjacent one were purchased by the Foundation. It opened as a museum (the Anne Frank House) on 03-05-1960 and is still in operation.

Death and burial ground of Frank, Otto Heinrich “Pim”.

  

Otto Frank died of lung cancer on 19-10-1980 , age 91,in Birsfelden, Basel-Landschaft, Switzerland and is buried on the Friedhof of BirsfeldenBasel, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Stadt, Switzerland

   

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