About a year before Anne Frank began writing in her diary in June 1942, her father was fervently writing to family and friends in the United States, asking for help. Otto Frank hoped that someone could help his family escape from their perilous plight in Nazi-occupied Holland. In 2007, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City released 65 documents -- typed letters, handwritten notes, and a telegram -- detailing Otto Frank's ultimately unsuccessful efforts to secure visas to the United States, and later, to Cuba. By June 1940, the U.S. Department of State had toughened its visa application process. Candidates had to show "a good reason" for seeking admittance, not just a desire to leave Europe.
A family desperate for somewhere to go:
- The State Department tightened regulations in order to reduce the number of immigrant visas being granted. In the early 1940s, there were national security concerns, a fear of foreigners, and, some have argued, anti-Semitism.
- Although he was unable to get visas for his family to travel to the United States, Otto Frank did receive a Cuban visa for himself on 1 December 1941. Ten days later, Germany declared war on the United States and the visa was canceled.
- The Frank family went into hiding in 1942. They were eventually discovered and sent to concentration camps, where Anne Frank and her sister, Margot, died of typhus and their mother, Edith, died of starvation.