Friday, August 21, 2015

Treasures from the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family - Mirjam Pressler with Gerti Elias

This book was yet another Borders Last Days Sale grab, which then for no good reason sat on the TBR pile waiting for its chance to be read. And it's yet another book I can't believe I waited this long to get to. The book is a deep dive into Anne's ancestors, mainly Otto Frank's grandparents and his immediate family. Its source is a treasure trove of family documents that included letters and photos that were found in the Otto's sister's attic in Switzerland after she passed away.

It's unimaginable to picture Helene Elias (née Frank) and her immediate family, who had managed to flee to Switzerland and relative safety, but who nevertheless were not considered citizens, and the fear and anxiety they felt on a daily basis after Otto and his family "disappeared" in June of 1942. Obviously, under the circumstances, Otto wasn't able to let them know that he had gone into hiding, and it would have been dangerous to attempt to communicate. It's touching to read the first-hand correspondence that went back and forth before June 1942, and it's very emotional to think about the survivors' guilt that seems to exist in Helene's son Buddy, Anne's cousin, whom she appeared to have admired. What a shame that these children couldn't have grown up and had normal lives as a family.

This book is a lovely testament to a family that was partially destroyed by back to back world wars and of course the murderous policies of Nazi Germany. It's equally sad and hopeful, and it's a wonderful volume for those who would like to read more about Anne and her family. Recommended.

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