I wrote this post on Facebook yesterday, which was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and found I wanted to put it here so that it could be found on a more permanent basis. I’m going to start it off here with a quote, marking the end to my daily quotes from women this year all being titled “365 Great Quotes from Women”:
Anne Frank could be an 87-year-old writer living in the U.S. today — International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Her family, like hundreds of thousands of Jews in Germany, tried to get visas to get out of Germany, to go anywhere else.
One of the things we tend to forget when we condemn Hitler (and believe me, I definitely condemn him) is how surely most of the rest of the world closed its door to Jews trying to get out. Because of immigration restrictions in the U.S. and antisemitism here, even the small quotas for immigrants from the Reich were not always filled in the years leading up to our entering the war.
Despite appeals on their behalf by members of the family who co-owned Macy’s (also a friend of Eleanor Roosevelts), the Franks were unable to get U.S. visas. Otto Frank did manage finally to get a visa to Cuba, but the U.S. entered the war and the Cuban visa was cancelled before it could be used.
908 other refugees with visas to Cuba managed to get to Cuban waters on the St. Louis in 1939, only to be turned away. They reached the U.S. — so close that they could see the lights of Miami. US newspapers generally portrayed their plight sympathetically, but few suggested that they be admitted into the United States. In the end, we too turned them away, and half died in German camps.
Can you imagine how much hope those people must have felt, seeing the lights of Miami? How much hope the Franks must have had, with that Cuban visa their hand?
Ann Frank died at the age of 15 in Bergen-Belsen, sometime in February or March of 1945, just weeks before the camp was liberated on April 15. Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.
Frank was one of 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis.
The information in this post comes from a variety of sources, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anne Frank House. The photo is from the Anne Frank House archives.