The family of Anne Frank attempted to immigrate to the U.S. in the 1930s and '40s but was blocked due to America's strict immigration policies, according to The Associated Press.
The AP reported on Friday that the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum say documents indicate the family tried to gain passage to the U.S. and later Cuba. But their attempts failed because of U.S. immigration policy and the outbreak of World War II.
According to documents, Otto Frank, the famous teenage diarist's father, tried to obtain a visa for the U.S. twice. He also applied for a visa to Cuba.
“I am forced to look out for emigration and as far as I can see USA is the only country we could go to," Frank wrote in English to a friend in America in 1941.
After the attempts failed, the Frank family was forced to go into hiding in Amsterdam on July 6, 1942, exactly 76 years ago. They were eventually found in 1944 and deported to the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.
“All their attempts failed, so going into hiding was their last attempt trying to get out of the hands of the Nazis,” Annemarie Bekker from the Anne Frank House told the AP.
The AP notes that Otto Frank's attempts to obtain a visa for the Jewish Frank family likely started as early as 1938. In 1941, he wrote to a friend saying that he had filed an application at the American consulate three years earlier in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam. But he added that “all the papers have been destroyed there."
A German bombardment had hit the consulate where Otto Frank turned in his application and all papers were lost.
Even apart from losing the papers, the AP reports that immigrating to the U.S. would have still been difficult. Hundreds of thousands of people were seeking refuge in the U.S. by the time World War II started in 1939, leading the nation to issue just 30,000 visas per year.
The new research about the Frank family's efforts to immigrate to the U.S. centered around documents like the affidavits of support, testimonies on character and other such items provided to the U.S. authorities in the immigration screening process. The AP also notes that the information focused on items like birth certificates, wedding certificates and tax clearances.
Otto Frank, the only member of the family to survive the war, eventually ensured the publication of the diary his daughter wrote in hiding.