There probably isn’t a person whose story has been told as many times as Anne Frank’s has. Her story is told every year in schools, in community theaters and in the hearts and minds of any young person learning about the Holocaust. And yet, this new documentary by Paula Fouce tells an aspect that isn’t widely known – how Otto Frank repeatedly tried to get his family to the United States and yet was repeatedly denied. It’s a horror story that has resonance today, as those fleeing war torn or poverty stricken countries risk life and limb to get out, to get somewhere safe. Otto Frank stopped short of smuggling his family out and instead they were forced to go into hiding, famously.
In No Asylum, we find out a bit more about the fates of Anne and her sister Margot who were taken off to the camps. Anne died of typhus, and one witness recalls seeing her without any clothes, freezing. It’s difficult to reconcile the Anne we know from her diary with the Anne who perished at the hands of the Nazis. That it wasn’t even really that long ago is even more horrifying. How could it have happened with the whole world there to stop it?
The United States then, like now, resisted the surge of fleeing Jews from the coming war and, as we know, there was a white supremacist movement called “America First” that protested the US getting involved at all in the war. Somehow, Anne Frank remains the most famous and perhaps among the most tragic of the Holocaust victims because we can plainly see what an exceptional person she was by her writing, which was full of life and wise beyond her years.
In No Asylum, we get first hand accounts of the Frank family, which helps to fill in some of the missing pieces. The documentary opens tomorrow. Don’t miss it. You can read more about the film and some of Otto Frank’s letters at the film’s website.