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A letter from Otto Frank (Prose Version)

by Maureen Glaude

In November of l968, the letter arrived at my door. Its Amsterdam stamp sent me scream-running to tell my parents. Though in disbelief, I knew its origin must be Mr. Otto Frank.

Amazement grew as I discovered a letter personally typed (with some welcome strike overs that told me it was done not by a secretary but his own hand) and composed specifically for me, nothing form about it, no standard issue from his office or The Anne Frank Foundation he and his second wife had created for his late daughter.

A month earlier I’d written to him moved by my first reading of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. At fourteen, close to the age of the tragic heroine who inspired me to diaries, writing, so much more...that I was compelled to reach out to him.

My mother must have found an address where he accepted mail about her (and the world’s) tragic story. I don’t remember now. Nor do I have my initial letter, but that’s not the important one.

Like a caring elder, he gave gentle advice on my confessed dreams, pointing out the trials of writing and acting careers, and even my goal to play Anne on stage though a blonde, Protestant Canadian schoolgirl I’d be playing against type but graciously he didn’t point that out. Mr. Frank updated me on his re-marriage, his work, and in his words the spirit of resilience for life shone, showing me where Anne’s had been born.

I’ve only shared the letter with my family and close friends and teachers of my children. It’s been tucked it away in my hope chest all these years and lately I’ve decided to offer to share it in a public forum, for heritage and in tribute to her father.

I often retrieve it for faith, example and pride in my most valued possession no-one could place a price on. As I’ve matured, and known some mourning closer-to-home
by now, I find the miracle of this man’s altruism, and strength has become its own story after the story
even more to me that after all he’d witnessed, suffered and lost he could rise above his grief so valiantly and see the worth in taking time to answer another young girl’s personal and idealistic expression though she was a stranger of a different faith, and easier history
than his daughter's.

Later, in high school and university, I did play Anne on stage, but most often just in my own mirror at home. The selected pages of recitation I still know off-by-heart.

Though sadly her father’s gone now from the world at large, in all my relationship roles (including with myself) and as world citizen and writer, I often lean on this precious gift I keep from him - the gift of his own example.

Posted on 07/10/2005
Copyright © 2005 Maureen Glaude


Author's Note: I feel the piece I posted on this yesterday was more prose than poetry, at least at this point, so have added posted it here in prose form now.

Posted on 07/11/2005
Copyright © 2021 Maureen Glaude

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Paganini Jones on 07/12/05 at 07:23 PM

:) This is a wonderful story and a tribute to a man great in his own right.

Posted by Quentin S Clingerman on 07/13/05 at 01:51 AM

A wonderful memory in whatever form as well as lasting tribute to Mr. Frank.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 07/13/05 at 01:50 PM

Ditto on the previous comments. I'm glad to read it again, and am especially happy that you've given it punctuation. I've often felt other similarly styled poems in your repertoire would work better the same way. Kudos!

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