Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt to a liberal family who set great store by culture and education. In 1933, her grandmother Alice Frank managed to emigrate to Basel with the family correspondence and other personal documents in her luggage, as well as household items from her Frankfurt home, and paintings belonging to the family. They were cared for there, for decades, and family traditions were preserved along with them.
The new permanent exhibition in the Rothschild Palais presents a selection of these everyday artifacts, paintings, photos, books, and letters, and thus offers intimate insights into the legacy of the Frank family and the related Elias family.
Original documents of the Frank–Elias family are held in the museum archive and can be accessed for research purposes. Anne Frank’s diary and other relevant media and data can be viewed in the museum library, in the “Lichtbau” (Building of Light) designed by Staab Architekten. Guided tours and workshops for school groups and other interested members of the public are another opportunity to explore the family’s history.
In 1963, Otto Frank founded the Anne Frank Fonds (AFF) in Basel and made it the sole heir to, and publisher of, his daughter’s diaries. Fifty years later, the Anne Frank Fonds and the Elias–Frank family resolved to permanently unite the family’s extensive legacy in its entirety, from letters, to photographs, to furniture, to porcelain, to books, in the Jewish Museum Frankfurt—hence, in the family’s hometown. Buddy Elias, a cousin of Anne Frank and, at the time, president of the Anne Frank Fond, seized the opportunity to set the world-famous story of the diary in the broader context of Jewish history before and after the Holocaust. Ever since, the Anne Frank Fonds has regarded the Jewish Museum as its partner, one that “enables it to make its research archive widely available in a scholarly and yet visible and easily accessible public context.” Accordingly, many more objects and records of the family history have been gifted to the museum in recent years, and subsequently studied and integrated into the collection.
The Aim of the Frank Family Center
The Frank Family Center strengthens the Jewish Museum’s profile as a place of research into Jewish history in Frankfurt in its broader European context; and too, as a place of education and outreach that keeps the matter of family research and family collections firmly in the public eye.
Prof. Dr. Mirjam Wenzel, Director of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt, has described the significance of the Frank Family Center as follows: “The documents and objects formerly in the possession of the Frank and Elias families offer unique insight into the lives and artistic interests of a liberal middle-class Jewish family in Frankfurt. They speak of modern history, of renaissance and emancipation in business, the arts, science, and society, which crucial historical events such as the First World War and the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 rudely interrupted and which the National Socialists in Frankfurt ultimately put an end to. The Jewish Museum can count itself very fortunate to be able to preserve, exhibit, and further research the material vestiges of this family history, for they bring the everyday lives, values, ideals, activities, and memories of a notable Frankfurt family back to life for the general public, in a remarkably touching way.”
The Frank Family Center stands on four pillars: collections, research, exhibitions, and education.
The collection currently comprises around 1,300 everyday objects. More items once in the family’s possession, those in the Anne Frank Fonds Archive, for example, will be added to it in the future. A specially instituted Fellowship Program will propel further research into the documents in the year following the museum opening. Workstations in the library are available to scholars who wish to consult records. Everyday objects, once researched and documented, are presented to the general public as part of the museum’s new online collection.
The permanent exhibition in the Rothschild Palais exhibits some of the family’s belongings in the “Family and Everyday Life” section, on the first floor. Further objects and the stories behind them will go on display in temporary exhibitions. Guided tours of the permanent exhibition offer insights into the family history, especially that of Otto Frank, who published his daughter’s diary. Points of departure for further exploration or education in the library and the exhibition are personal mementos such as letters and artifacts, which were handed down from one generation to the next, and thus fostered a strong sense of family tradition and the impact of history.
Anne Frank Fonds Basel, Jewish Museum of the City of Frankfurt am Main, the Elias–Frank family
February 28, 2012
October 20, 2020
Dr. Franziska Krah
Number of items:
Number of photographs:
Total length of written material:
ca. 11 meters
Highlights of the collection:
Otto Frank’s correspondence with his family after his liberation from Auschwitz; travel photography and correspondence from ca. 1900; family correspondence from the time of the First World War; international correspondence following the family’s emigration from Frankfurt in 1933; nineteenth-century decorative tableware for special occasions.
Pictures for Download
Barbara Klemm (born 1939), Buddy (1925 - 2015) and Gerti (born 1933), Elias in her house in Herbstgasse, Switzerland, Basel, 2013, photography. © Jewish Museum Frankfurt Download
Jakob Nussbaum (1873 - 1936), Frankfurt Opera Square, Frankfurt am Main, 1905, oil on canvas, 86.5 × 106.5 × 4 cm (frame size) © Family Frank Zentrum / Anne Frank Fonds Basel Download
Children's chair with red upholstery, called "Anne Frank Chair" in the Elias family, 19th century, wood, upholstery fabric, 57 x 36 x 39 cm. © Family Frank Zentrum / Anne Frank Fonds Basel Download
Greeting card of the four children Robert (1886 - 1953), Otto (1889 - 1980), Herbert (1891 - 1987) and Leni Frank (1893 - 1986), Frankfurt am Main, ca. 1895, 14.8 × 21 cm.
© Family Frank Zentrum / Anne Frank Fonds Basel Download