Anne Frank and the New York Times

Published: 2013-11-08

Edward Rothstein
New York Times
New York City

07 November 2013

I am writing to comment on your article  Playing Cat and Mouse With Searing History, addressing the new Anne Frank exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance.

While Anne Frank’s story is tragic, you ignore the manner of death of the 8 people in the Annex. The official history is that non-working Jewish people arriving at Auschwitz were all “gassed." But of the eight sent to Auschwitz on September 3, 1944 from the Annex, not one of them was killed in a gas chamber. Instead, five of the eight were transported back to Germany-Austria in November 1944.

The details of the eight individuals from the Annex are:

The Frank Family was detained for failing to report for labor service and for going into hiding.

  1. Anne Frank—sent to Auschwitz, then transported to Belsen where she died of typhus (in Belsen not Auschwitz).
  2. Otto Frank—left behind in Auschwitz with those in the sick barracks.  Survived the War.
  3. Edith Frank-Holländer—left behind in Auschwitz as the Germans retreated.
  4. Margot Frank (Anne's older sister) died of typhus in Belsen (not Auschwitz).
  5. Fritz Pfeffer,  sent to Auschwitz then transported to Neuengamme concentration camp where he died on 20 December 1944. His cause of death is listed in the camp records as "enterocolitis."
  6. Auguste van Pels born Auguste Röttgen (Hermann's wife), whose date of death is unknown. Witnesses testified that she was with the Frank sisters during part of their time in Bergen-Belsen. According to German records, van Pels was sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany with a group of eight women on November 26, 1944. Hannah Goslar's testimony was that she spoke to van Pels through the barbed wire fence "in late January or early February". Auguste was transferred on February 6, 1945 to Raguhn (Buchenwald in Germany), then to the Czechoslovakia camp Theresienstadt ghetto on April 9, 1945.
  7. Peter van Pels  died in Mauthausen (not Auschwitz).
  8. Hermann van Pels died in Auschwitz. It is often claimed that he was "gassed." However, according to eyewitness testimony, this did not happen on the day of his arrival there. Sal de Liema, an inmate at Auschwitz who knew both Otto Frank and Hermann van Pels, said that after two or three days in the camp, van Pels mentally "gave up." He later injured his thumb on a work detail, and requested to be sent to the sick barracks. There is no evidence whatever for the assertion that Hermann van Pels was gassed.
    The pattern is the same with other groups closely associated with Anne Frank who were also sent to Auschwitz from Holland.
  9. Eva Geiringer -- born May 11, 1929.  Sent to Auschwitz May 1944 Step-sister of Anne Frank.  Survived the War.
  10. "Fritzy" Geiringer, mother of Eva,  Married Otto Frank.  Survived the War.
  11. Heinz Geiringer, brother.  Survived Auschwitz but died on a forced march out of the camp.
  12. "Pappy" Geiringer.  Survived Auschwitz but died on a forced march out of the camp.
    The Geiringers were immigrants from Austria; They too ignored a call up for labor service received July 6, 1942 and went into hiding.  They were found out on May 11, 1944, detained  and were sent to Auschwitz that month.
  13. Janny Brandes-Brilleslijper. Was arrested for forgery. Was in the Westerbork, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps.  Traveled to Auschwitz on the same train as the Frank family and to Belsen with Anne and Anne's older sister Margot. Survived the War.
  14. Lientje, sister of Janny. Was in the Westerbork, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps with Janny. Survived the War.

Elsewhere you have praised the “relentless pursuit of historical details." You are right. Details allow us to learn what really happened. In this case the details tell us that none of the people traveling with Anne Frank died in “gas chambers.” Why? And why did the Germans transport Anne, her sister, Janny, Lientje and so many others back into Germany in 1944? These are details which should profoundly affect our, and your, understanding of German policies.

Yours for history based on honesty and historical detail,

David Merlin
Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust
PO Box 439016
San Ysidro, California
Tel: 209 682 5327
Email: [email protected]

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Author(s): David Merlin
Title: Anne Frank and the New York Times
Published: 2013-11-08
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 7, 2015, 7:28 a.m.
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