Letters from Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank, donated to UofSC Anne Frank Center

Collection establishes Anne Frank Archive on 75th anniversary of her diary

The Anne Frank Center located at the University of South Carolina is now home to 100 letters and cards written by Otto Frank, the father of Holocaust victim and world-renowned diarist Anne Frank. The donation comes as the world honors her life and legacy on the 75th anniversary of the publication of her diary and her birthday on June 12.

“The letters and cards in this historic collection will be an invaluable resource for future scholarship, enhancing the educational role of the university’s Anne Frank Center,” says Interim President Harris Pastides. “With the center approaching its one-year anniversary on our campus, we welcome the addition of a correspondence that offers unique insights on an important period of history and will help us continue to share the story and legacy of Anne Frank.”

Cara Wilson-Granat says she is donating the letters in hopes that the Frank family’s tragedy inspires learning, compassion and hope just as he inspired her.

“I hope that this is the beginning of something. I would love this to be an open forum for more people who were impacted by Anne Frank and Otto Frank, but I also hope that it will grow into a really a tremendous center for discussion,” says Wilson-Granat. “It could be about controversy; it could be about education. I think it's just the beginning of something very, very exciting.”

The Anne Frank center located in the Barringer House on the UofSC campus brings to life the experience of the Frank family and four others who spent two years of hiding in Nazi German-occupied Amsterdam during World War II. The Franks were discovered in 1944 and sent to concentration camps. The mission of the center is to educate visitors about anti-semitism and other forms of discrimination.

Otto Frank was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. He published the journals of his daughter, Annelies Marie "Anne" Frank, posthumously as The Diary of a Young Girl in more than 70 languages.

Wilson-Granat wrote a letter to Otto Frank in 1957 when she was 12 years old because she was chosen to audition for the movie, The Diary of Anne Frank. That letter began a decades-long mentorship for Wilson-Granat who is now an author and inspirational speaker. She said he helped her learn to see the world through different eyes. Her correspondence with Otto Frank is documented in her latest book Tree of Hope: Anne Frank's Father Shares His Wisdom With an American Teen and the World.

The donation also includes correspondence with Miep Gies, who helped the Frank family while they were in hiding and who recovered Anne’s diary after the arrest, giving it to her father after her death. The letters are the founding donation to create the Anne Frank Center Archive, which will be a collaborative effort between University Libraries and the Anne Frank Center.

South Carolina Libraries Dean Tom McNally says, “The Anne Frank Center is a great treasure to our university.  If I may steal a line from the movie, Field of Dreams, ‘People will come.’  Those people will bring letters, photographs, scrapbooks and much more.  They will bring things because they will want to be a part of this wonderful museum.  The University Libraries will offer all of the resources we have to store, catalog, digitize and provide researchers a place to study these materials.”

Otto Frank received more than 10,000 letters from children around the world, but the record of how he responded is not complete. Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center, Doyle Stevick hopes that this gift will get the attention of the many other people around the country who received letters from Otto Frank. 

"Anne's legacy was guided and shaped for more than 35 years by Otto Frank. These letters reveal the personal side of a private man who always wanted his daughter's words and spirit to be front and center,” says Stevick. “His heartfelt responses to Cara help us understand how he saw Anne's continuing relevance in turbulent times."

The Anne Frank Center encourages anyone who received a letter from Otto Frank to contact afc@sc.edu to document the correspondence and explore options for preserving these precious documents.

The copyright for all writings of Otto Frank, including his letters, are held by the Anne Frank Fonds of Basel, Switzerland.

The Anne Frank Center at UofSC is the official partner of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It is one of only four partner sites in the world and the only one in North America. Through that partnership, the university’s College of Education tours six exhibits about the life and times of Anne Frank in South Carolina schools and around the country. More than 2,400 first-year students visited the Anne Frank Center in its opening semester. The center's training for peer guides on campus and for middle and high school students offer tools for building a community that will stand up and make a difference if they witness prejudice.

The Anne Frank Center is operated through a combination of funding from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, the university, donations and grants, as well as training, rental and visitor fees. The center is a resource for students and visitors nationwide. 

For more information about the Anne Frank Center or to schedule a tour, go to www.sc.edu/annefrankcenter.

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