The Truth About Anne Frank's Father Otto

Anne Frank's diary wouldn't have been made public if it weren't for her father Otto. The diary has been translated into more than 60 languages and remains one of the most-read books, with more than 31 million copies sold (via Publishing Perspectives.) In her diary, Anne narrates her family's struggles during the Holocaust up until they were captured by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz.

Otto Frank was the only one who survived the Holocaust in his family. His wife, Edith, was murdered in Auschwitz, and Anne, together with her sister Margot, died of typhus in the concentration camp where they were held, per the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Otto did his best to save his family from the Nazis and hid in a loft, which Anne named the Secret Annex, but they were eventually discovered. Anne's last diary entry was dated August 1, 1944, just a few days before they were sent to different death camps.

Otto Frank's early life

Otto Heinrich Frank was born in Germany in 1889 and was raised in a family of liberal Jews. They honored traditions and celebrated Jewish holidays, but they did not strictly adhere to all Jewish laws, according to Anne Frank House. Otto studied economics finishing high school and was offered an internship for Macy's in New York. Shortly after his internship started, however, he received news of his father's passing and immediately went back home for the funeral. Afterward, he returned back to the United States and worked there for two years.

In 1911, Otto returned to Germany and he joined the army in 1915 and by the end of his enlistment, he was a decorated lieutenant. He then went on to work on his family's bank and later on established two businesses — Opekta Company and Pectacon, according to Biography.

Otto Frank married Edith in 1925 and together, they had two girls — Margot and Anne. By the 1930s, Adolf Hitler was rising into power and as a result, Otto relocated with his family from Germany to the Netherlands in 1933.

Otto's attempts to save his family

Otto Frank continued to find ways to keep his family safe amid the growing tensions and antisemitism. By 1940, Netherlands has become a Nazi-occupied territory. Jewish businesses were raided and families were taken to concentration camps. He attempted to establish his business in Great Britain hoping to move there, but it wasn't successful. Per Anne Frank House, Otto tried to emigrate to the United States with his family as well, but that didn't prove fruitful either. It was around that time when Otto decided to go into hiding with his family in the place that Anne called the Secret Annex.

The Frank family moved into the annex of Otto's place of business on July 6, 1942. The family of four was joined by a dentist named Fritz Pfeffer and another family, the Van Pels, who were all Jewish. They were able to successfully evade arrest for almost two years before they were discovered and arrested on August 4, 1944, per the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Out of all the people in the annex, Otto was the only survivor.

Otto's life after Auschwitz

The Auschwitz death camp was liberated by the Soviets on January 27, 1945. Most of the people who survived, including Otto Frank, were emaciated and deathly ill. After getting his strength back, Otto traveled back to the Netherlands and learned of what happened to his wife and two children. Per Biography, it was Miep Gies, Frank's former secretary, who found Anne's diary in the annex and handed it to Otto. Anne's father initially did not want to publish Anne's diary, and it took a lot of convincing before the book, "The Diary of a Young Girl," was published in 1947.

Otto Frank remarried in 1953. His second wife, Elfriede Geiringer, also survived the Holocaust with her daughter Eva. Otto's step-daughter, Eva Schloss, described him as "a very kind, wonderful man, and a loving stepfather," in an interview with The Guardian. Despite starting anew, Eva said that Otto was still "emotionally involved" with the memory of Anne. He became a human rights advocate and died in 1980 at the age of 91.