NEW YORK – Newly disclosed letters written by Holocaust victim Anne Frank's father illustrate his desperate attempts to get his family out of the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, Time magazine reported on its Web site.
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, a New York-based institution that focuses on the history and culture of Eastern European Jews, plans to release the roughly 80 documents on Feb. 14, according to Time.com. A telephone message left at the institute early Thursday was not returned.
Since the English publication of "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" in 1952, and its subsequent reprintings as "The Diary of Anne Frank," millions of readers worldwide have felt intimately connected to the girl who matured in its pages from innocent childhood into her precocious, sometimes rebellious teens.
The Frank family's hiding place in a secret annex in an Amsterdam canal-side warehouse has been turned into a museum. In Amsterdam, Anne Frank House spokeswoman Patricia Bosboom said it was difficult for her to comment on the letters disclosed by YIVO.
"We're aware of them, but we haven't seen them yet." But she said they would fit with the general picture that is known about Otto Frank's many efforts to get his family out of Europe. "We do know about that."
It also fits with Otto's other contingency planning: the family's hiding spot. "He organized it well before the war," she said.
The documents include letters that Otto Frank wrote to relatives, friends and officials between April 30, 1941, and Dec. 11, 1941, when Germany declared war on the United States, Time said.
Written when the U.S. consulate in the Netherlands had closed, the letters show how Otto Frank investigated potential escape routes through Spain to Portugal, attempted to secure visas to Paris and tried to arrange for his family to go to the United States or Cuba, according to the magazine.
The family took refuge in the secret annex in a warehouse belonging to Otto Frank's company in July 1942, hiding there for more than two years before being arrested.
The letters also include correspondence from Otto Frank's U.S. relatives and a friend, Nathan Straus Jr., the son of the founder of Macy's department store, according to Time.
The letters were initially held by the New York City-based Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which gradually transferred its archives to the YIVO Institute between 1948 and 1974. A volunteer archivist at the YIVO Institute discovered Otto Frank's letters more than two years ago, but the institute has kept the find quiet while exploring copyright and other legal issues, Time said.
The disclosure came as a surprise to Bernd "Buddy" Elias, Anne Frank's cousin and the president of the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, Switzerland. The organization, established by Otto Frank, holds the rights to Anne Frank's writings, according to its Web site.
Elias said he had asked about the Otto Frank letters but never got a direct answer about their nature.
"Of course, I'm interested in them. We would love to have them in our archive. I mean, we are the heirs of Otto Frank," Elias told The Associated Press.
Anne Frank died of typhus at age 15 in a concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in 1945. Her diary pages, scattered in the family's hiding place, were pieced together by her father — the family's only survivor — after he returned to Amsterdam after the war.
He published his daughter's writing in the Netherlands in 1947, and an English-language version followed five years later. The diary would be read by an estimated 30 million people in more than 65 languages and also was adapted into a stage play and film.