Thursday Reader: Revision of Anne Frank’s Death

Anne Frank (1942)

New research sets Anne Frank’s death earlier.

For 70 years, Anne Frank was believed to have died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen just two weeks before allied forces liberated the Nazi death camp on April 15, 1945.

This week, however, new research released by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam concludes that the 15-year-old Jewish diarist and her older sister, Margot, more likely died in February, not on March 31. The Dutch government fixed that date at the end of World War II after the Red Cross concluded Anne and her sister died sometime between March 1 and March 31.

The researchers based their new findings on eyewitness testimonies of survivors and the archives of the Bergen-Belsen Memorial, Red Cross and the International Tracing Service.

“It is unlikely that they were still alive in March; their deaths must have occurred in February 1945,” the Anne Frank House said.

Anne Frank, left, plays with her friend Hanneli Goslar, right, on the Merwedeplein square in Amsterdam in 1941. Shortly before Anne Frank and her family went into hiding from the Nazis, she gave away some of her toys to non-Jewish neighborhood girlfriend Toosje Kupers for safekeeping. The toys have now been recovered and Anne's tin of marbles will go on display for the first time this week at an art gallery in Rotterdam, the Anne Frank House Museum says.  Photo: AP

Anne Frank, left, plays with her friend Hanneli Goslar, right, on the Merwedeplein square in Amsterdam in 1941.
Shortly before Anne Frank and her family went into hiding from the Nazis, she gave away some of her toys to non-Jewish neighborhood girlfriend Toosje Kupers for safekeeping. The toys have now been recovered and Anne’s tin of marbles will go on display for the first time this week at an art gallery in Rotterdam, the Anne Frank House Museum says.
Photo: AP

The exact date of their deaths remains unknown.

“One day they simply weren’t there anymore,” one camp survivor who was friends with the girls told the researchers.

Annelies Marie Frank’s famous diary tells of hiding with her family and other Jews in secret rooms behind a bookcase in the house that is now her museum. After two years of hiding, they were betrayed to the Nazi occupiers, and she, Margot and their mother were shipped by train to Auschwitz-Birkenau in early September 1944. Two months later, Anne and Margot were transferred to Bergen-Belsen.

In early December, Nanaette Blitz, a former classmate who was transferred to the overcrowded camp, told of finding Anne, saying it was a miracle they recognized one another.

“She was no more than a skeleton by then,” Blitz recounted. “She was wrapped in a blanket; she couldn’t bear to wear her clothes anymore because they were crawling with lice.” Lice are the main carrier of typhus, the symptoms of which include severe headaches, muscle pain, high fever, followed by skin rash and delirium.

The last time Blitz saw her was January 1945, when typhus was epidemic in the women’s camp. By that time, the researchers write, Anne Frank “was clearly already gravely ill,” and Margot “was in an even worse condition than her sister.”

Other inmates, including Auguste van Pels, who had hidden with the Franks, reported similar observations of the girls’ health before they were transferred to Raghun, another slave-labor camp, on Feb. 7, 1945.

“In fact, this is where their trail runs cold,” the researchers write.

AF3Based on those eyewitness accounts and because Anne and Margot were already frail when they arrived at Bergen-Belsen, “it is unlikely that they survived until the end of March. In view of this, the date of their death is more likely to be sometime in February.”

The earlier date lays to rest the notion that Anne and her sister were only days from being rescued when they died, researcher Erika Prins told the Guardian.

Symbolic gravestone of Anne Frank at the site of Belsen Concentration Camp,  Bergen-Belsen Memorial, Anne-Frank-Platz.

Symbolic gravestone of Anne Frank at the site of Belsen Concentration Camp, Bergen-Belsen Memorial, Anne-Frank-Platz.

“When you say they died at the end of March, it gives you a feeling that they died just before liberation,” Prins said. “Well, that’s not true anymore.”

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Holocaust Memorial Day: Remember, Honor, Educate, Prevent

It was 69 tears ago today on what we now know as Auschwitz Liberation Day, Holocaust Memorial Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day, when Soviet Troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau in occupied Poland.

Here, borrowed from Yad Vashem, is one family’s perspective from Chanukah 1932.

Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, his wife Rachel and their three children: from right to left: Avraham Chaim, Tova and Shulamit, at the train station in Kiel upon leaving Germany, 1933

Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, his wife Rachel and their three children: from right to left: Avraham Chaim, Tova and Shulamit, at the train station in Kiel upon leaving Germany, 1933

Artifacts in the Holocaust History Museum

Chanukah Menorah from the Home of Rabbi Akiva & Rachel Posner in Kiel, Germany

A photograph taken in 1932 by Rachel, wife of Rabbi Akiva Posner, of their candle-lit Chanukah menorah against the backdrop of the Nazi flags flying from the building across from their home in Kiel Germany

A photograph taken in 1932 by Rachel, wife of Rabbi Akiva Posner, of their candle-lit Chanukah menorah against the backdrop of the Nazi flags flying from the building across from their home in Kiel Germany

On Chanukah 1932, just prior to the elections that would bring Hitler to power, Rachel Posner, wife of Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, took this photo of the family Chanukah menorah from the window ledge of the family home looking out on to the building across the road decorated with Nazi flags.

On the back of the photograph, Rachel Posner wrote in German (translated here):

Chanukah 5692
(1932)
“Death to Judah”
So the flag says
“Judah will live forever”
So the light answers

The back of the photograph of the Posner family’s Chanukah menorah taken in Kiel Germany. On it Rachel Posner has written what translates as:  "Death to Judah" So the flag says "Judah will live forever" So the light answers.

The back of the photograph of the Posner family’s Chanukah menorah taken in Kiel Germany. On it Rachel Posner has written what translates as:
“Death to Judah”
So the flag says
“Judah will live forever”
So the light answers.

Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, Doctor of Philosophy from Halle-Wittenberg University, served from 1924–1933 as the last Rabbi of the community of Kiel, Germany.

After Rabbi Posner publicized a protest letter in the local press expressing indignation at the posters that had appeared in the city:  “Entrance to Jews Forbidden”, he was summoned by the chairman of the local branch of the Nazi party to participate in a public debate. The event took place under heavy police guard and was reported by the local press.

The Posner family’s Chanukah menorah. Rachel Posner photographed the menorah as it stood on the family’s window ledge in Kiel, Germany against the backdrop of the Nazi flags flying from the building across from their home

The Posner family’s Chanukah menorah. Rachel Posner photographed the menorah as it stood on the family’s window ledge in Kiel, Germany against the backdrop of the Nazi flags flying from the building across from their home

When the tension and violence in the city intensified, the Rabbi responded to the pleas of his community to flee with his wife Rachel and their three children and make their way to Eretz Israel. Before their departure, Rabbi Posner was able to convince many of his congregants to leave as well and indeed most managed to leave for Eretz Israel or the United States. The Posner family left Germany in 1933 and arrived in Eretz Israel in 1934.

The Posner family Chanukah menorah displayed in the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem beside the photograph that was taken in the Posner family home in Kiel on their last Chanukah in Germany, 1932

The Posner family Chanukah menorah displayed in the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem beside the photograph that was taken in the Posner family home in Kiel on their last Chanukah in Germany, 1932

Some eighty years later, Akiva and Rachel Posner’s descendants continue to light Chanukah candles using the same menorah that was brought to Israel from Kiel. On Chanukah 5770 (2009), their great-grandson, Akiva Mansbach, dressed in the uniform of the Israel Defence Forces saluted and read out a poem written in Hebrew in a similar vein to that written by Rachel Posner in 1932.

Translated it reads:
“ In 5692 the Menorah is in exile, it stands in the window
It challenges the party flag that doesn’t yet rule
“Judah die!” it says
And Grandma ‘s rhyme responds
In its own tongue, without despair:
So the flag says, but our candle answers and declares
“Judah will live forever”

In 5770 the menorah stands in the window once again
Facing the flag of the ruling State
The descendant Akiva, named for his great-grandfather
Salutes through the window and lights the menorah
Grandmother, give thanks above and say a prayer
That “the Redeemer will come to Zion” and not delay.

(Loaned by the Posner Family Estate, courtesy of Shulamit Mansbach, Haifa, Israel
Photographer: Rachel Posner)

On the Web: Auschwitz Concentration Camp Emancipation 69 Years Ago

Auschwitz concentration camp – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Auschwitz – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Yad Vashem

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