• History
  • Books

How Anne Frank’s Father Thanked the Family That Found Her Copy of Grimms’ Fairy Tales

3 minute read

In 1977, a Dutch family revisited a book their parents had bought them shortly after World War II and discovered something remarkable inside. Their copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales had two signatures on the title page: those of Anne Frank and her sister, Margot Frank.

The book had been left behind by the Frank family when they fled their Merwedeplein apartment to hide in the now-infamous annex where they tried to escape persecution. Sometime after that—after the Frank family had been found, after Anne and Margot died at Bergen-Belsen—the book ended up in an Amsterdam bookstore, and subsequently in this Dutch family’s home.

Read more: TIME’s Original Book Review for Anne Frank’s Diary

When the family members (who wish to remain anonymous) discovered that the book had belonged to the famous diarist, they wrote to Anne’s father, Otto, who had shepherded his daughter’s diary to publication after her death. He urged them to keep the book, explaining “it would please me if you keep the book for your daughter in memory of my children.”

Here is the full text of Otto Frank’s letter, in a translation provided by Swann Auction Galleries:

Dear [redacted],

It was very nice of you to write me such an extensive letter upon finding a book on your bookshelf with the ex libris of my daughter, Margot.

I understand your emotions, and those of your husband and daughter, brought on by seeing the names of my daughters written in the book.

Everything you wrote has deeply affected me too and brought about old memories of loved ones.

The book apparently got left behind in our house on the Merwedeplein 37 and after the Germans had taken everything away, in one way or another it ended up at the book dealer.

We had had some books brought to the Prinsengracht before we went into hiding; these were not taken by the Germans. Some have been saved in The Anne Frank Foundation, others I have here.

Seeing that the book you found is a beautifully illustrated version of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” and understanding from your letter your compassion for what has happened to us, it would please me if you keep the book for your daughter in memory of my children.

On my next visit to Amsterdam I would like to contact you and have a look at the book.

Meanwhile I remain with kind greetings to you and your family.


Otto Frank

Now, nearly 40 years after the book was rediscovered, it and the letter will go up for auction at Swann on May 5.

Anne and Margot Frank's copy of Grimm's Fairy TalesSwann Auction Galleries
Both sisters signed the title pageSwann Auction Galleries
Otto Frank's letter to the family that found his daughters' bookSwann Auction Galleries

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com