Wednesday, 2 March 2011

I met Anne Frank's Last Living Relative

Buddy Elias Frank standing by Anne and Margot Frank's grave.
Sometimes in life you meet somebody who leaves you speechless. I met Buddy Elias Frank, Anne Frank's last living relative, at the Jewish Book Festival on 27 February. It was amazing to even be in the same room as Buddy and his wife, Gerti Elias. I recently blogged about the children of the Holocaust and I believe it is a very important subject. It is because of people like Anne Frank that we can put a face to the human suffering otherwise the Holocaust would only be a historical event in our lives. Anne Frank's father, Otto, and Buddy's mother were siblings and while Buddy and Anne were growing up they were very close. In fact the whole Frank family were very close. Anne used to call Buddy 'Bernd'. His real name is Bernhard.

Here is an extract from a letter that Anne wrote to Buddy before she was taken to the concentration camp:
"Dear Bernd,Many Happy Returns on your birthday (all birthday letters start like that) and many more to come. I hope you're all healthy there like we are here. We had five days off for Pentecost, that was great and I 've been very busy. I don't get home before 10 at night, but usually a boy walks me home.How's it going with the girl you sent us a photo of? Do write to me and tell me, I'm very interested in things like that. This epistle didn't turn out very long but I also don't have anymore time to write, since I am going with Father to a film showing at some friends. Best Wishes to everyone. Write me back. Anne"

Buddy and Gerti were a warm hearted, friendly couple that wanted to share a story of love with the world. You can only appreciate the magnitude of what I experienced by also reading the following extracts from the book called 'The Treasures from the Attic. The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family'.

This is part of a letter from Otto Frank to his family after his liberation from a concentration camp.
Dear Mom,
Dear everyone,
Tomorrow we will be in Marseille, and then this letter will hopefully be forwarded to you. I assume I will be able to telegraph right away too so that you will know I have returned safe. We sailed from Odessa. Did you get my news from Kattowitz & Czernowitz?! For now we don't yet know if we can go back to Holland or if we will have to go to England for awhile first. For me the main thing is that we get out of Russia, so we can be reunited with our loved ones. You have no idea how much I long to see you again. All my hopes are for the children. I cling to the firm belief that they are still alive and that we will be together again soon. They will hardly expect their Pim to still be alive-they experienced too much, and they must know how everything was in the "Auschwitz extermination camp" where I was..."

Soon afterwards Otto discovered that his children, Anne and Margot, had died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp from malnutrition and other illness in late March 1945. The camp was liberated in April 1945 and 60,000 emaciated prisoners were discovered. Anne and Margot had been buried in a mass grave.

The following is the letter that Buddy wrote to Otto after the discovery of the deaths of Anne and her sister Margot.
"Dear Ottel, 
I also want to write how terribly sorry I am about your horrible fate. I think I can say: our fate. I remember so well the lovely days with you and Margot in Adelboden. Edith and Anne are fixed in my memory as well, of course, and will be treasured there for ever. I know that you have a hard battle ahead now, to recover from everything and make a fresh start. We can only give you so little support now, I wish you were here with us already, or we were wtih you. I am positive that better times will come, for you too. You'll do it. Chin up! See you very soon - 
Your Buddy"

Buddy and Gerti live in Switzerland and are actively involved with the Anne Frank Foundation. I recommend this book because it will take you into a journey of the past and go into the detail of the lives of a very lively and heartwarming family who met and overcame many tragedies.
http://www.annefrank.org.uk/
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4 comments

  1. Thankyou Maelo for sharing this. The Holocaust history has effected me since my childhood awareness grew. It's woven into my Liberalism and makes me that little bit braver when facing ignorance and injustice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear John,
    Thankyou for leaving such an encouraging comment. How exactly has it woven into your Liberalism? I am very intrested in your answer.
    From
    Maelo

    ReplyDelete
  3. Maelo, I think it just stripped me to my human core. Whatever baggage I might have accumulated during childhood, whether racial or intolerance or privilege or just plain ignorance, it was cleansed by a feeling of common humanity and empathy. Basically, that there can be no reason to treat another person with such cruelty or disrespect. That one of those petrified faces or corpses could be mine or a loved one's. That everyone is different but of equal value regardless of anything else.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear John,
    Absolutely, equality is most probably the most important human principle.
    From
    Libdemchild

    ReplyDelete

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