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Treasures from the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family Hardcover – 24 Feb 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First Edition edition (24 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297860887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297860884
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 3.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 577,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Treasures from the Attic are treasures indeed. The book is a thoroughly absorbing and engrossing family history, with fascinating descriptions of people's lives and emotions dating back to the end of the eighteenth century. Through letters and photographs we learn how one Jewish family moved out of the early nineteenth century ghetto of the Frankfurt Judengasse, to feel so accepted by the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that they found a successful bank, holiday around Europe...

and stage lavish celebrations. How fragile it all is that by the mid twentieth century it has all turned to dust. Reading these remarkable letters, poems and family tales shows us how the descriptive powers and strong moral code Anne Frank demonstrated in her famous diary and accompanying stories were inevitable. They were coursing through her DNA.' (GILLIAN WALNES, MBE Co-Founder/Exec Dir, The Anne Frank Trust)

"Their story is the story of countless others and remains required reading" (SUNDAY TIMES - 6.03.11)

Book Description

The story of Anne Frank, her family and the famous diaries, told with the help of thousands of letters, documents and photographs recently discovered in an attic.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Emily on 20 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book definitely teaches you more about the family of Anne Frank than the Diary Of A Young Girl in the sense that most of the book is written like a novel, and focuses on the correspondence between Anne's Aunt Leni, her Grandmother, Alice and her father Otto whilst he was in Auschwitz looking for his family after their separation. The book contains original letters, written exactly as they would have been, and photographs of documents and family members. The book switches from a 'documentary style' in writing, to family saga, (the book begins with a young Anne playing with her cousin Buddy)and this shows us the 'pleasant side' to life for the Frank family before it all went horribly wrong. The letters from a young girl who met Margot and Anne in Belsen to Otto vividly describing the horrendous conditions and disease are nothing short of heartbreaking. I'm not one to cry whilst reading a book, but during these sections I found myself fighting back tears. But this book shows the true determination Otto had to give his daughter what she always wanted - her own book published. A brilliant testimony to a girl who will certainly never be forgotten.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Turner on 1 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was fascinating. It gave so much background on Anne Frank's ancestors that I began to see her in a completely different context from that of the diary. It would have been so interesting to see how she developed had she survived.

I did get really bogged down in the earliest bits, though, and had to re-read it to work out how all the generations fitted together.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 66 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
For European or Jewish history fans, along with those who want to know more about Anne Frank 16 May 2011
By Jennifer Donovan - Published on
Format: MP3 CD
Mirjam Pressler is a beloved German author, and the award-winning translator of Anne Frank's Diary. She organized these notes and letters and adds in some information about what others of that day would have been doing or wearing or were thinking, so that Treasures from the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family reads as a continuous narrative, not just a series of letters. Gerti and Buddy were additional sources that she used for clarification.

At first it was hard for me to get into, especially the audiobook version, because I was trying to make connections and draw the lines on the family tree, but then I relaxed and let myself enjoy the stories of this warm, loving and silly family, going all the way back into the late 1800's. We learn that other relatives placed importance on keeping a record of their thoughts via a journal. It's grave to consider the likelihood that Anne would never have journaled her time in hiding from the Nazis were it not such a valued habit in the family.

After the somewhat slow start (just because it wasn't connected to the time period that I associate with Anne Frank), bits of information about the prejudice against Jews throughout Europe begins to surface. And here's the real irony -- though Jewish by birth, the Frank family was quite secular in practice, even celebrating Christmas as a holiday, and not even attending temple on the high holy days.

Less than halfway through brings us to the low point in Otto Frank's life, as we find out that Edith, Anne, and Margot have all died, as we wrote letters and telegrams back home after he and the other concentration camp inmates were freed by Russia (a fact that was new to me). At this point, the story becomes quite absorbing -- perhaps because it's familiar, and perhaps because of the way we've gotten to know the rest of the extended family. We experience this shocking news along with them, as they feel guilty for their relative ease and safety in Switzerland during this time.

The last half of the book continues to focus on the other family members, grandmas Alice and Ida and their children and grandchildren, but primarily looks at Otto's work getting the diary published in many countries, and protecting its reputation by fighting those who claim it's fiction. The book did not become a bestseller until the Tony-award winning play was staged and traveled throughout the world. Then the movie followed.

AUDIO NOTES: Treasures from the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank's Family is a quiet book about a serious topic, and the reading follows this course. Sherry Adams Foster fooled me! I assumed that it was a German reader, but she wasn't. However, hearing the accent definitely helped me become more fully immersed than if I had just been reading it.

I also find that in history books such as this, listening to an audio version helps me stick with it. I enjoyed this audiobook very much.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Almost a 5 -- Very good, but some of the back matter needs rechecking 9 May 2012
By D. Williams - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Have you ever wondered about how much a well-known person is impacted by his or her family? Or have you ever wondered how the renowned person had an impact on his or her family? We see answers to both questions in this book.

"Anne Frank's Family" is based on a large number of letters and photographs discovered by Buddy Elias's (Anne's cousin's) wife Gerti in the attic of their home. This work is in three major parts. The first has to do with Anne's paternal grandmother Alice Stern Frank ; the second tells about her aunt Helene Elias, Otto Frank's (Anne's father's) sister. The third part, markedly the longest of the three, is about Buddy Elias, Anne's cousin, who is now the only living relative who actually knew Anne.

Readers can see both the impact Anne's family had on her, and her impact on the family. In Anne's diary, we see poetry written for special occasions, such as birthdays. This poetry was obviously a family tradition; we see several more such poems in "Anne Frank's Family." These poems also help readers see where Anne must have gotten the talent to write as well as she did at a young age.

But how did young Anne's life impact the lives of her family members? "Anne Frank's Family" shows the great affection and closeness of the members of the Frank family. Anne loved her family, and her family loved her. Her father, after his discovery of her diary, made it his life's work to publish the diary. After Otto Frank's death in 1980, cousin Buddy Elias took over leadership of the Anne Frank Fonds and made carrying on Anne's legacy very important in his life.

There are copies of letters written by the Frank family, numerous photographs, and even images of old painted portraits; I found myself flipping back and forth between the portraits of members of Anne's family and ones of Anne and noting family resemblances.
There is good back matter: a partial Frank family tree (which apparently needs updating, because, though many of the Franks are long-lived, I doubt that someone born in 1899 or 1900 would still be alive today) and a bibliography (but all the works listed are in German).

Even with the problems I point out, I think that anyone who has read and appreciated "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" will appreciate this book as well. It helps us see Anne as her family saw her and gives us a different perspective about the young girl who hid with her family in an attic for two years.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Enjoy, but suspend your disbelief 9 May 2012
By Jessica Weissman - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Anne Frank is a symbol, a figure in history, and someone readers feel they know intimately through her diary. But she was also a kid, a member of a German Jewish family, some of whom survived the Holocaust.

This book provides the history of Anne's family, both for generations before the Holocaust and for the years afterward. It is based on a huge trove of family documents and letters discovered not too long ago in the attic of one of Anne's cousins.

The story is both interesting and banal...before the Holocaust. These are ordinarily interesting people, whose lives illustrate what circumstances were like for the large community of Jews in Germany and nearly places frome the mid-1800s on. There are photos, letters, and other documents, and more. After the Holocaust the emotional temperature rises, as we see how the survivors dealt with their losses and went on with their lives.

All good. But you must suspend your disbelief, as there are dozens of passages where dialog is quoted and feelings described that could not possibly have been found in the records. As a historian, this bothers me. The book would have been just fine without that stuff. It may not bother you.

So if you can look past such speculative decorations, you have an engaging history of early modern European Jewish life, and a rare detailed look at how Holocaust survivors picked up with their lives.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
BookHounds [...] 19 Jun. 2011
By Mary Bookhounds - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating look at the extended family of Anne Frank told through letters, pictures and postcards exchanged between Helene and her brother, Otto, the father of Anne Frank. There are notes of joy and happiness mixed in with the despair and concern of the family that comes to realize that Otto's family is trapped by the Nazis and there is no way for them to find freedom. Most people know the story of Anne and her family, but I don't think anyone has ever documented the horror that her family went through and with the literal treasure trove of newly found documents that this all comes to light. Any history lover would love to have this book on their shelf.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Remember her gray eyes 1 Sept. 2012
By K. Peterson - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Overall, I enjoyed reading the details of the family of Anne Frank and would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about them. There are many details given about their family from several generations back from Anne, some of which would be interesting to the contemporary reader and some of which would not (or at least it was not interesting to me to know what her Great-great-great grandfather was up to). I would say that this story started to become more interesting to me when it centered on Alice Stern, Anne's grandmother. It didn't occur to me that many Jews survived the Holocaust by living in countries that didn't gather up and exterminate Jews, but apparently there were many countries that were not aligned with the Nazis, so in those countries if they didn't get taken over, Jews were relatively safe. Sorry if this is stating the obvious, but this wasn't so obvious to me.

There are many instances where facts are brought to light that one couldn't ascertain from The Diary of Anne Frank. For example, the author writes, "This letter (which Otto Frank wrote to his sister, Leni) brings to life the Otto Frank whom his daughter Anne worshipped without it ever being entirely clear why from her diary. He must really have been as tolerant, balanced, and civilized as his contemporaries described him as being - a serious, thoughtful man." The Diary of Anne Frank was written, after all, by a young girl who apparently didn't see anything extraordinary about her father, just that he was who he was.

Another thing that I hadn't thought of is that the family didn't know that Anne, Margot and Otto's wife, Edith had been murdered. They (Leni and her mother, Alice) apparently received a letter from Otto in July of 1942 in which Otto hinted that they were going to go into hiding. The Secret Annex was discovered by Nazis in 1944. Edith died Jan 1945. Anne and Margot died March 1945. Germany capitulated on May 8, 1945. "Can't you call Amsterdam?" Alice asked every day (after the war ended). When Otto returned home, he already knew that Edith had been murdered. Otto had returned home, but not the children. It was later discovered that "both children, Margot and Anne, were dead, that they had died months before in a German concentration camp." Alice wrote to Otto, "There are no words to tell you what I feel and every minute I am with you in feeling the unspeakable suffering in body and soul that you now have to bear alone." They were stunned. Was there still a future for him (Otto)?

One thing that I found quite interesting in this book is all of the pictures of various family members, many generations back, but also Margot, Anne, Stephan, Buddy, Edith, Otto, Leni, Erich and others. And unlike our generation, there were also found many letters. Otto sent a letter to his mother saying that he had a few albums "and also Anne's diary." It is astonishing to think that possibly her diary might not have been written, if not for their family's habit of writing. I hope everyone finds that inspiring!

It is stated toward the end of this book that Otto Frank "was guided by the idea of doing something in memory of his daughter to promote the mutual understanding of young people and tolerance between different religions." And I believe The Diary of Anne Frank has done that. But this is a personal journey too. Otto, Anne's father, says, "She had gray eyes. They looked dark, but they weren't brown, they were gray."
"Who?" Leni (Otto's sister) asks.
Leni puts her arms around him, lays her head on his shoulder, and hears his voice right next to her ear: "If I ever forget that, you have to remind me. Promise me that. They were gray."
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