Refugee Anne Frank Was Turned Away By the U.S.


Anne Frank was a prospective refugee to the United States — and we denied her family’s request for entry.

Many know Anne Frank from her famously written experiences of her time spent hiding from the Nazis in the 1940s. It is less known (or realized) that her father, Otto, desperately attempted to get a U.S. visa to escape from Europe.

Documents released in 2007 by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, which were heavily publicized and covered by several media outlets at the time, show Otto’s efforts to escape to the United States or Cuba.

Otto’s attempts over nine months are documented in several letters, some of which he wrote to his friend from college, Nathan Straus Jr. Straus was the head of the federal Housing Authority, a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt’s and the son of a Macy’s co-owner.  In the letters, Otto asks his friend to put up a $5,000 bond. But even with these close connections to some powerful people, the Frank family could not overcome the State Department’s restrictions. The Roosevelt administration added a restriction in 1941 that no refugee with close relatives in Europe could come to the U.S.

After this avenue didn’t seem to be working, Otto then attempted to secure an individual visa from Cuba, which succeeded at first. The visa was canceled 10 days after Germany declared war on the United States.

The next year the family was forced to go into hiding after Anne’s sister, Margot, received an order to report to one of the work camps.

Is history repeating itself? Anne Frank’s step-sister (and Holocaust survivor), Eva Schloss, believes so:

“You must not be selfish and you must share whatever you have and help in a desperate situation. They need help from you.

“These people have had the courage to do a very difficult thing — to take your family and your whole life to another country requires bravery and strength. This is history repeating itself.

“These Syrians are valuable, educated people. These are doctors and nurses who are only too willing to help our society and they will become leaders in the community if you let them.”

Although the documents were discovered in 2007, the issue of Anne Frank’s family being denied visas has been brought to light this week again after several U.S. governors have stated that they will deny refugees from Syria entry into the U.S. due to “security concerns.”

As stated in a previous article on NationofChange, the identified terrorists responsible for the attacks in Paris earlier this month, were all European nationals, and not refugees or posing as such. Yet, the Paris attacks have still prompted many around the world, especially in the U.S., to tighten security and turn away thousands of fleeing, desperate people.


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Alexandra Jacobo is a dedicated progressive writer, activist, and mother with a deep-rooted passion for social justice and political engagement. Her journey into political activism began in 2011 at Zuccotti Park, where she supported the Occupy movement by distributing blankets to occupiers, marking the start of her earnest commitment to progressive causes. Driven by a desire to educate and inspire, Alexandra focuses her writing on a range of progressive issues, aiming to foster positive change both domestically and internationally. Her work is characterized by a strong commitment to community empowerment and a belief in the power of informed public action. As a mother, Alexandra brings a unique and personal perspective to her activism, understanding the importance of shaping a better world for future generations. Her writing not only highlights the challenges we face but also champions the potential for collective action to create a more equitable and sustainable world.