I cannot imagine that anyone seeing this movie has not read the book “The Diary of Anne Frank.” When you see “No Asylum: The Untold Chapter of Anne Frank’s Story,” you well may want to read it again.
As much as his daughter’s own words painted a portrait of her life, so this compelling documentary paints a portrait of her father Otto Frank and his desperate search for safety for his family. Much of the story is told through Otto Frank’s letters as well as interviews with surviving family members.
“Dear Charlie,” Otto Frank wrote in a letter dated April 30, 1941. “I am forced to look out for emigration, and as far as I can see, USA 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.”
The letters were found in 2005 when a volunteer sorted through boxes of Holocaust documents in the Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut (YIVO) or the Institute for Jewish Research. Inside an envelope, the volunteer discovered Otto Frank’s letters, and within them are his efforts to find sanctuary for his children Anne and Margot and his wife Edith.
Anne’s cousin and confidante Buddy Elias talks about the girls’ childhoods. Anne’s step-sister Eva Schloss, who grew up across the street from the Franks, talks about the Franks’ lives and their struggle to survive as Otto Frank sought refuge in several countries, including the United States.
Anne Frank’s diary, which is a global symbol of the Holocaust, sheds light on the Frank family’s experiences while they were in hiding. The documentary reveals more about what happened before the family began living in the attic.
Hearing Otto Frank himself tell about finding his daughter’s diary is incredibly moving.
The film begs the question: What would have happened if Otto Frank had successfully found a safe haven for his family? “Anne Frank could be a 77-year-old woman living in Boston today … a writer,” says Holocaust expert and author Richard Breitman, Ph.D.
Major Leonard Berney, who died earlier this year on March 8, was the first British officer to liberate Bergen-Belsen. Through him, and through survivors of the concentration camp, we learn about the horrors there.
It is no wonder that “No Asylum” has been nominated for Best Documentary at the Palm Beach Film Festival. See for yourself how Anne Frank’s poignant story lives on.