Anne Frank was a refugee denied entry to the US

November 22, 2015
Anne Frank

With refugees at the centre of debate after the terror attacks in Paris, the plight of European Jews fleeing Nazi Germany during the 1930s and '40s springs to mind as a parallel to the current crisis.

It has come to light in recent times that the family of Anne Frank — the Jewish teenager whose famous diary details her and her family's failed attempts to hide from the Nazis in Amsterdam — was among those denied the necessary papers that would have allowed them access to the United States.

According to documents released in 2007 by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Frank's father sought money to secure a visa to the US. That visa request was ultimately denied.

Otto Frank and his family then went into hiding in 1942 after Margot Frank received an order to report to one of the Nazi “work camps”.

Syrian refugees have been the focus of intense xenophobia from various world governments in recent days. In the US, 26 Republican governors said they would deny access to the Syrian refugees out of security concerns, despite the fact they have no legal authority to do so.

Just as public opinion turns from the Syrian refugees, who are desperately seeking escape from the horrors they are leaving behind, so too were Americans hesitant to help during the Holocaust.

Public opinion of the Jewish population at the time was very low. US people were already stretched thin due to the economic depression — again, circumstances fairly similar to today. As such, many Americans favoured denying them access.

It is also important to remember that none of the attackers in Paris were refugees or gained access through those channels. The Syrian passport discovered on the attacker turned out to be a forgery.

We must maintain compassion in the face of terror, as the lessons of history are not to be forgotten.

[Abridged from]

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