Otto Frank tried to move family to England, U.S. before WWII

Otto Frank, father to Anne Frank, was very much aware of the danger that Adolf Hitler's national-socialism posed to Jewish people. New research from the Anne Frank Stichting reveals that Otto Frank had his home remodeled at the start of the war to make room for a place to stow his family away. He did this after he tried to escape with his family to England and America, Het Parool reports.

In the 18 months before going in hiding, Frank had the kitchen in the area between the two buildings on the Prinsengract 263 moved to the third floor of the Achterhuis. This was discovered by interior architect Joost Marchal, who inspected the buildings and blueprints.

This made room for an internal set of stairs, which made it possible for helpers to come visit without being seen. "We cannot definitively say that Otto arranged the conversion with an eye on the hiding", says researcher Teresien da Silva. "But the adjustments were of crucial importance."

In 1973, the impending threat from Germany moved Frank to make 20 acquisition calls in London about the struggling gelling agent company Applam Fruit in Somerset. "Otto negotiated for the German mother company Pomosin, for which he led the sister company Opekta in the Netherlands", says researcher Gertjan Broek. "This was a chance to get his family as far away from Germany as possible."

In April of 1936, Frank penned a letter to friend Nathan Strauss: "Because of the imminence of Germany, it has not been pleasant here for a long time. [...] The unhappiness, the fascism is growing and with that also the anti-Semitism." His wife, Edith, started taking English lessons at around the same time. The business talks did not work out, however.

From correspondent letters it seems that Frank then tried to emigrate to the United States, through neutral Cuba if necessary. But when America joined the war in 1941, this also became a lost cause.