AMSTERDAM (JTA) – Contrary to widely held beliefs, Anne Frank and her family were never denied entry visas to the United States, a new study by the museum for the young Holocaust diarist confirmed.
On Friday, the Anne Frank House published its report on the immigration attempts of the Frank family, which included Anne, sister Margot and their parents, Otto and Edith. They were sent to concentration camps and only Otto survived.
“Although the United States had a far from generous policy with regard to Jewish refugees, it is clear that Otto, Edith, Margot and Anne Frank were not refused entry to the United States,” the new study states. Due to rapidly changing circumstances connected to World War II, the family’s “immigration visa application to the American consulate in Rotterdam was never processed.”
Anne Frank penned journals of her time in hiding from Nazi occupation for two years until 1944, and the journals became the famed Diary of a Young Girl.
The finding on the Frank family follows decades of uncertainty as to how exactly U.S. immigration authorities handled their immigration applications. And it contradicts an oft-repeated claim of critics of past and current U.S. visa policies, including from Washington Post columnist Elahe Izadi, who in 2015 wrote an op-ed titled “Anne Frank and her family were also denied entry as refugees to the U.S.”
More recently, journalists Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan made the same claim on the “Democracy Now!” show syndicated by Pacifica Radio. “The U.S. Rejected Refugee Anne Frank – Let’s Not Make the Same Mistake Again,” read the title of its article from February.
According to the study, one delay to the Franks’ immigration process followed the bombing of the U.S. Consulate in Rotterdam in May 1940. All documents, including Otto Frank’s visa application, were lost and had to be resubmitted.
Otto Frank’s friend in the United States, Nathan Straus, used his financial resources and political connections in an attempt to help the Franks immigrate. But this was complicated by the fact that the United States closed all German consulates, whereupon Nazi Germany closed all American consulates in Germany and Nazi-occupied territory.
After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the suspension of transatlantic shipping traffic, travel to Cuba was impossible, thwarting Otto Frank’s plan to immigrate to the United States through there. He decided then to go into hiding with his family.
“There were also obstacles from the United States,” the study’s authors wrote. “In the absence of an asylum policy, Jews seeking to escape Nazi persecution in Europe had to go through a protracted emigration procedure. There was limited willingness to accept Jewish refugees.”