Anne Frank’s family was never denied US visas, study states


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Contrary to widely-held beliefs, Anne Frank and her family were never denied an entry visa to the United States, a new study by the museum for the Jewish diarist confirmed.

The museum in Amsterdam known as the Anne Frank House published Friday its report on the immigration attempts of the family of Anne Frank, who penned journals of her time in hiding from Nazi occupation for two years until 1944. The journals became the world-famous “Diary of a Young Girl.” She, her sister and parents were sent to concentration camps where only her father, Otto Frank, survived.

“Although the United States had a far from generous policy with regard to Jewish refugees, it is clear that Otto, Edith, Margot and Anne Frank were not refused entry to the United States,” the new study states. Due to rapidly-changing circumstances connected to World War II, the family’s “immigration visa application to the American consulate in Rotterdam was never processed.”

The finding follows decades of uncertainty as to how exactly U.S. immigration authorities handled the Franks’ immigration applications. And it contradicts an oft-repeated claim of critics of the United States’ past and current visa policies, including Washington Post columnist Elahe Izadi, who in 2015 penned an op-ed titled “Anne Frank and her family were also denied entry as refugees to the U.S.”

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More recently, journalists Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan made the same claim on the Democracy Now! Show syndicated by Pacifica Radio. “The U.S. Rejected Refugee Anne Frank—Let’s Not Make the Same Mistake Again,” read the title of their article from February.

According to the study, one delay to the Franks immigration process followed the combing of the U.S. consulate in Rotterdam in May 1940. All documents, including his visa application, were lost and had to be resubmitted.

Otto’s friend in the United States, Nathan Straus, used his financial resources and political connections to try to help the Franks immigrate. But this was complicated by the fact that the United States closed all German consulates, whereupon Nazi Germany closed all American consulates in Germany and Nazi-occupied territory.

After the attack on Pearl Harbour and the suspension of transatlantic shipping traffic, travel to Cuba was impossible, thwarting his plan to immigrate to the United States through there. Otto Frank decided then to go into hiding with his family.

“There were also obstacles from the United States,” the study’s authors noted. “In the absence of an asylum policy, Jews seeking to escape Nazi persecution in Europe had to go through a protracted emigration procedure. There was limited willingness to accept Jewish refugees.”