AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A photograph of the boy with the “beautiful brown eyes” who Anne Frank recalled as her “one true love” in the diary she wrote whilst in hiding in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands is to go on display in Amsterdam.
The photo of Peter Schiff was donated to the Anne Frank museum by his former childhood friend Ernst Michaelis who realised after rereading Anne’s diary recently there were no known pictures of Schiff, a museum spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
Frank’s Jewish family fled Nazi Germany in 1933 and settled in Amsterdam. During World War Two the Nazis occupied the Netherlands and began deporting Jews to the death camps in 1942, prompting the Frank family to go into hiding.
They lived in a secret annexe in a canal-side house for more than two years before their hiding place was betrayed and the family sent to concentration camps.
Anne recorded her years in the attic hideaway in her diaries. A Dutch woman who helped the family found them in the annexe after Anne’s arrest and gave them to her father Otto who survived the Holocaust. They became famous around the world.
She writes in her diary: “I forgot that I haven’t yet told you the story of my one true love”.
“Peter was the ideal boy: tall, slim and good-looking, with a serious, quiet and intelligent face,” Anne wrote of the 13-year-old she had fallen for in 1940 when she was just 11.
They would collect each other from school and walk hand in hand through their local neighbourhood.
“He had dark hair, beautiful brown eyes, ruddy cheeks and a nicely pointed nose. I was crazy about his smile, which made him look so boyish and mischievous.”
Peter later died in Auschwitz, while Anne died in Bergen Belsen concentration camp in 1945.
Michaelis, now 81, had attended a Jewish school with Schiff in Berlin in the 1930s before both families fled the Nazis. When they parted, the boys exchanged photographs.
“He read the diary in the 1950s and thought that Peter Schiff was very likely his friend. But it was only when reading it later that he saw there were no photos and so he contacted us,” said a museum spokeswoman.
Anne last saw Peter a few days before she moved into the annexe, but wrote of him in her diary more than 1-1/2 years later after dreaming of him.
“I’ve never had such a clear mental image of him. I don’t need a photograph, I can see him oh so well,” she said.
Reporting by Alexandra Hudson