Monday, April 23, 2012

The Life and Mission of Otto Frank

Unless some compelling new document comes to light, it appears unlikely that we will even know who betrayed the Frank family, calling Gestapo headquarters and alerting them that Jews were hiding in 267 Prinsengracht Street.  There were at least two official Dutch inquiries in the matter.  Many people were interviewed, there were some suspects who seemed likely to have betrayed them, but in the end there was a lack of evidence to arrest anyone.

Carol Anne Lee, in her biography of Otto Frank, The Hidden Life of Otto Frank, makes a case for Tonny Ahlers, a Dutch Nazi, informant, and general low life.  But the case against him is not very convincing; in the end, it is simply circumstantial, and weak at that.  Ms. Lee tries to show that Otto Frank was being blackmailed by Ahlers after the war, since Frank’s company had business  dealings with the German Army.  Again, this in itself does not constitute proof.  Much of what she marshals is inadmissible hearsay.

By far the best part of this book is her exploration of Otto Frank’s life following the death of his family.  In all ways, he was responsible for carrying on his daughter Anne’s legacy following her murder with the publication of her diary. As the promoter of the diary, he was Anne’s postmortem extension in the world.  He carried on her work because she was unable to; at first this took a heavy toll on his health.  But eventually, it became his life’s mission.  We can safely say that his sorrow would have been more encapsulated if it were not for Anne’s diary and its great popularity.  Carol Anne Lee does a very good job at exploring the life and mission of Otto Frank.  She shows how even great loss can lead to a kind of redemption.

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