Research suggests the family of Anne Frank attempted to immigrate to the United States and later also to Cuba, but their efforts were thwarted by America's restrictive immigration policy and the outbreak of World War II. The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum said Friday that documents indicate Anne's father, Otto, tried twice to collect the papers needed to obtain visas for the US, per the AP. He later also appears to have applied for a visa to Cuba. However, the Frank family's escape efforts were in vain. Eventually they went into hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam on July 6, 1942—exactly 76 years ago today. "I am forced to look out for emigration and as far as I can see USA is the only country we could go to," Otto Frank wrote in English to a friend in the United States in 1941.
His efforts to get the family out of the Netherlands to the US likely started as early as 1938. Otto Frank wrote in his letter that's when he'd filed a visa application at the US consulate in Rotterdam. However, on May 14, 1940, the US consulate was bombed by the Germans and all papers were lost. Plus, with hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge in the US by the time war broke out in 1939, DC was issuing fewer than 30,000 annual visas; the processing of a visa application also lasted several years. A renewed attempt in 1941 to get the family to the US failed because all US consulates in Germany-occupied Europe were closed by the Nazis. A visa application to Cuba that same year also failed. While the Franks weren't explicitly denied visas by the US consulate, "their efforts were thwarted by American bureaucracy, war, and time," the historians wrote. (Read more Anne Frank stories.)