Nota Bene: Anne Frank’s Family Tried to Escape to America

In 1941, Anne Frank’s had left Germany for the Netherlands and was trying to escape to America. Her father Otto Frank wrote to a college friend living there asking for help and money to cover the deposit for their visas:

I am forced to look out for emigration and as far as I can see U.S.A. is the only country we could go to … Perhaps you remember that we have two girls. It is for the sake of the children mainly that we have to care for. Our own fate is of less importance.

Because of tightening restrictions on refugees from Europe, pushed in part by hardening anti-foreigner sentiment in America, Otto was unable to secure visas for his family. They went into hiding in 1942.

Anne, her sister, and mother later died in concentration camps.

Weekend Reading: February 24, 2017

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Screening Room: ‘Defying the Nazis’

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On the brink of World War II, a Unitarian minister and his wife were ordered by their community to travel from Massachusetts to Europe with a crucial mission: Help as many refugees escape as you can.

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War, which was co-directed by Ken Burns, is opening this week in limited release. It will be broadcast on PBS September 20. My review is at Film Journal International:

Ringing with a vivid moral clarity, Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War is a tightly focused documentary that raises an unusually sprawling number of challenging questions for its audience. Unlike many stories of this kind, the film doesn’t pretend that the choices made by its undeniably brave subjects were easy ones or that a cost wasn’t required for their decision to go willingly into the horrors of Nazi-occupied Europe to save whoever they could…

Here is the trailer:

Now Playing: ‘Generation War’

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‘Generation War’: A Drink, For Tomorrow We May Die

generationwar-posterFive friends meet for one last night together before three of them head off to war. It’s not the newest of premises but what gives the nearly five-hour epic Generation War more of a kick is that it’s about five German youths who will be hurled into the morally-devastating crucible of World War II.

It’s playing now in limited release and should hit DVD soon. My review is at Film Racket:

Controversial but also hugely popular in Germany, where it aired as a TV miniseries, this dynamic story about five friends sucked into the bloody maw of the Second World War is in line with earlier efforts to fit big-screen ideas and scope into a small-screen format. Much like those Herman Wouk adaptation epics of decades past, Generation War uses carefully pigeonholed and typecast characters as chess pieces to be moved about the broad, years-spanning story to cover as many points of interest and historical drama as possible. This produces a somewhat mechanical narrative, something that the hardworking cast resists as best they can, continually hitting high strumming notes of melodrama amidst the exploding shells…

The trailer is here: