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Melissa Muller
Melissa Muller
Anne Frank:  The Biography
ISBN: 0805059970
Anne Frank: The Biography
One of this book's great strengths is writer Melissa Müller's ability to situate Anne Frank's famous diary within a larger historical and biographical context—more than half of it covers the years before the Franks went into hiding. Equally important is her discovery of the existence of five pages Otto Frank removed from his daughter's original diary and entrusted shortly before his death to Cor Sujik, international director of New York's Anne Frank Center. Sujik showed these pages to Müller, who accurately notes in the biography that they "enhance our understanding of the diary's author."

Until now, readers have known the eight people sequestered in the secret annex through Anne's eyes only. Müller reveals everyone's correct names (they were changed for the diary's publication) and tactfully corrects a teenager's skewed perceptions when necessary, always reminding us of the claustrophobic closeness and material deprivation that sometimes fueled Anne's uncharitable comments about, for example, the middle-aged dentist with whom she was forced to share a room. Müller also plausibly identifies the Dutch informant who betrayed the secret annex's inhabitants to the Gestapo. Horror suffuses Müller's grim recap of the Franks' ordeal at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, though there is some comfort in survivors' reports that Anne, her mother, and her older sister formed "an inseparable trio," all former quarrels forgotten in their fierce struggle to save each other. They failed, and Müller does not gloss over that tragedy. But she reminds us that, "In the end, the Nazi terror could not silence Anne's voice, which still rings out for all of us."
—from the publisher's website

Anne Frank: The Biography
Program Air Date: November 29, 1998

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Melissa Muller, author of "Anne Frank: The Biography," when did you first read "The Diary of Anne Frank"?
Ms. MELISSA MULLER, AUTHOR, "ANNE FRANK: THE BIOGRAPHY": I first read it when I was about 12, 13 years old, like many young girls and boys do.
LAMB: Where were you living?
Ms. MULLER: I was living in Vienna then, and it was--and contrary to the US, it was not part of the school reading, but I read it at home.
LAMB: What reaction did you have to it?
Ms. MULLER: Well, I was very touched. I could very well identify with Anne Frank, with her problems, with her longings, with her wishes. That was the main thing I had with the book that I was focusing on her as a developing girl with whom I could identify.
LAMB: You said in your introduction that you could identify with the frustrations she had with her mother.
Ms. MULLER: Oh, yes. I had the same thing at this age. I remember a terrible situation when I wrote in my diary, `I hate my mother,' and my--really, and my mother was crazy enough to one day read my diary. And we had--this was between us for some years. Today we are very good friends and very close, but that was something terrible in my family between my mother and me. And, of course, when I was 13, I didn't--it had a different meaning for her than for me. But--well, that's why I can understand Anne very well in this book.
LAMB: What was the meaning for Anne Frank of the differences she had with her mother? And what was the relationship between the way she felt and what was lacking in her diary? In other words, what wasn't--you know, you talk about the five pages that weren't in the diary in the first place that had something to do with her mother.
Ms. MULLER: Yes. Well, Anne didn't have a very close relationship with her mother. And it's obvious that the characters of the two were very different. Anne was a very extroverted person, very funny person, whereas her mother as a character was very introverted and didn't like to be on stage, to put it this way. And so they were different. And Anne, as a 13, 14-year-old girl, tried to be even more different from her mother, and she didn't like her mother. She was very much a father-minded girl, and that's something usual, actually.

And what we know about the mother, Edith Frank, from the diary, or what we have known until now, was that Anne found her terrible and didn't want her to be her mother. She says things like, `I can't even call her mother. I myself have to be my mother.' And that's the impression that we had until now. I was lucky to find during my research pages from the diary that were never published before because the father, as the only survivor, took them out of the diary. And in those pages, Anne, for the first time, shows sympathy and understanding for her mother. She still says that she's different, she has a hard heart and she can't really feel close with her, but she understands now, after thinking about it, why her mother became that way.
LAMB: You said that you read "The Diary of Anne Frank" when you were 12 or 13. My calculations are that you must be somewhere around 30 now.
Ms. MULLER: Yes, I'm 31 now.
LAMB: And at what point, then, did you read it again, and why did you get interested in doing a biography?
Ms. MULLER: I got the diary as a present from a friend when--about four years ago, and I was wondering, `Why does he give me the diary? I read it in--as a schoolgirl. It's something that belongs to my past. What does it have to tell to a grown-up?'--that I felt I was. But still I read it, and then I was surprised how much the diary had to tell also to grown-ups and how differently I read it, what different things I took out of the diary, and how many questions came to my mind about the girl Anne Frank, about the family she grew up in, about her friends, about the circumstances she lived in and that formed her life. And when I realized that there was no book who could answer these questions, and being a writer and a journalist, I started to research on it and I started to get deeper and deeper in the subject. And then I decided to do the book.
LAMB: On the cover is a photograph of Anne Frank. How old is she here?
Ms. MULLER: That's one of the last pictures that were made of her in 1942, so she's about 13. That was about the time when she started to write her diary.
LAMB: And when you started to do this four years ago, where were you living then?
Ms. MULLER: I was living in Munich. I was working there as a journalist, and I was going back and forth between Vienna and Munich: on the weekends, be with my family in Vienna; during the week, working in Munich.
LAMB: How did you go about researching your biography?
Ms. MULLER: Well, in the beginning, I was still an employed editor, and it was--I did it in my free time. And then I started to work as a freelance edit--freelance journalist, mainly also because I saw that it--that the research took so much time. Well, at first, it was very difficult to find people who knew Anne Frank, but I had put in my hand I don't want to do an archive research only; I want to meet the people who can--who knew her because, after all, she would be only 69 today, so she's just--she would be a grandmother in her best age.

And so I was sure that there were some or many people, even, who knew her. And I started my research, of course, in Holland, where she grew up, where she had lived from four until she was deported.
LAMB: Where had she been born?
Ms. MULLER: She was born in Frankfurt. I--of course, I did my research there as well. I found family friends and neighbors who could tell about the family and about the baby and toddler Anne Frank. And I went to Aachen, where her mother came from, because one of the things I was really upset about was that we didn't know anything about the mother Anne--of Anne, except for what she wrote in the diary.
LAMB: There's a photograph we took out of--actually, the Bantam Books edition of "The Diary of Anne Frank," a picture--what would you--do you have any idea how old she was in this picture? No, you're not seeing that on the--I'm sorry.
Ms. MULLER: No, I'm not seeing it at the moment.
LAMB: Yeah. And we don't have a copy of it out here. I don't know what we were looking at. Anyway...
Ms. MULLER: Now that's the--that's Edith now, and she--that was--the picture was taken in Amsterdam well before the war, so she was born 1900; she was in her late 30s, I think. She looks much older for today's--from today's point of view, like 30- to 40-year-old women look. But she never was caring a lot about her looks.
LAMB: And what about the father, Otto Frank? What was he like?
Ms. MULLER: Well, people who knew him talk about him as a very, very special person. He was--also from his looks; they--people remember him as a tall, very, like, charismatic person. And he was a very special father, although he was away a lot because he was struggling hard to build up a business, and he was not very lucky as a businessman. Already in Frankfurt, the economical circumstances were very bad with the world economic crisis, and the bank had to close down. And he was not very interested in business all his life; he actually started studying arts, and he had to stop that because he had to join the bank business--the family bank business. But he and his brothers were not the big businessmen.

But in Amsterdam, he struggled hard to build up a business, and he had to travel a lot, and he was not there a lot, so the mother was the one who was always there. But when he came, he was a caring father, playing and learning with his two daughters, playing with the girlfriends--that's why they remember him so well--making poems with them, singing with them, things like that.
LAMB: On the back of your book, you have a photograph that includes the whole family?
Ms. MULLER: Yes. That's the last picture that was taken of the family together on the Merwedeplein. That's where they lived in Amsterdam in 1941. I don't know who took the picture; nobody knows exactly. Probably it was one of the people working for him, Mr. Kugler, because it was already forbidden for Jews to use photographs and to make pictures.
LAMB: Anne Frank moved with her family when she was four and a half years old to Amsterdam. Why don't you tell a little bit of the story? Because you open your book with basically the--almost the end of the whole story, and I first want to ask you, why'd you do that?
Ms. MULLER: Well, of course, it was a decision because I wanted to get to--people to the story as quickly as possible. I wanted to threaten them and to make them excited about--and make them feel for what's going on already in the first pages. Even though it's, of course, a non-fiction book and everything that I wrote is purely fact-based, I tried to narrate it in a style that people get into the story like, you know, be driven in and not feel bored by reading facts only.
LAMB: We've got a couple photographs, and it--we'll get up in a moment--about the actual house where they were living in Amsterdam, but at the--what was the date that the German guard, the SS, came to pick them up, the eight people living in the house?
Ms. MULLER: That was the 4th of August, 1944, and it is--it was very tragic because it was very late in war and people--everybody in Holland was hoping that the war would be over, like, every day. The Allies were coming nearer and nearer, and they were starting to free France. And they had hopes, they had reason for hope that they would soon be free in Amsterdam as well. And the atmosphere in the annex had become so much better. I mean, they were already 25 months in hiding and it was a very bad time with--full of fear, and not only fear to be betrayed and things and--but also, the problems that the eight people in hiding had with each other. They were on so little space, they were getting on each other's nerves. And the Franks were so different from the other family in hiding, the van Pels, and they had so many fights, they were only communicating by written notes anymore. And at this point--and when they were betrayed, they--actually, they were full of hope that everything would out--work out well.
LAMB: Where is the house located in Amsterdam?
Ms. MULLER: That's in the old town center on Prinsengracht 263 near to the main church of Amsterdam.
LAMB: We're looking at a frontal shot of it.
Ms. MULLER: Yeah, that's the--today it's a museum, and that was the office building where Otto Frank had his office and in the back of it, the annex was.
LAMB: And this is the back shot right there of the annex itself. And who were the eight people?
Ms. MULLER: Well, it was the four Franks, Otto, Edith, Anne and her sister Margot; then it was an employee of Otto, Hermann van Pels, with his wife and his son, Peter. And then about in November of '42, so a few months after they had moved into the hiding place, Miep Gies, one of the helpers of the Franks, asked Otto Frank to take another Jew in danger, a dentist called Fritz Pfeffer, and so he came into the hiding place as well. And the situation through this got even more difficult for Anne because she couldn't share her room with her sister Margot anymore but had to take the over-50-year-old Fritz Pfeffer in, and that was a very difficult situation for her, of course.
LAMB: So how long were they in the annex--did they live there?
Ms. MULLER: Exactly 25 months, over two years.
LAMB: And how could they live there without getting caught?
Ms. MULLER: Well, they were lucky. Actually, the Franks were, although it's difficult to say, in a much better position than so many other Jews in hiding. The place where they were hiding, Otto had prepared it for nearly a year with the help of two of his employees, Mr. Kugler and Mr. Kleiman.
LAMB: We have a picture of Mr. Kleiman standing next to some cases.
Ms. MULLER: Yes. They--that's the bookcase that one of the workers put in front of the door that was leading to the hiding place, so--with the house that was right behind the office building. And they were hiding the store behind this bookcase.
LAMB: So if you open that bookcase there, you could go into the annex area.
Ms. MULLER: Exactly. And...
LAMB: Who was that gentleman, Mr. Kleiman?
Ms. MULLER: Kleiman was a Dutchman who had already worked together with Otto Frank in the early '20s, when Otto Frank and his brothers had tried to save the family--the German family bank by building up a branch in Amsterdam, a thing that didn't work out. So he knew Mr. Kleiman already for a long time. And he worked for him again in the '30s, when Otto built up his business--it was two different businesses, the one was dealing with stuff that you put to use to make marmalade and jam, and the other thing was spices for sausages and things.
LAMB: Here's a picture of Mr. Kleiman, but there's another gentleman here, Mr. Kugler?
Ms. MULLER: The other one is Mr. Kugler, who was also--the two were working for him, and at the time, the Jews were forbidden to have businesses. They took the business over for Otto Frank and, of course, they were...
LAMB: These are non-Jews--two non-Jews?
Ms. MULLER: Two non-Jews, and they ran the business for him. And they were, of course, the two responsible people hiding the eight Jews. And they were organizing the food, they were bringing newspapers every day, they were keeping Otto Frank, mainly, and, of course, Hermann van Pels, informed of what was going on. And when the Jews were arrested, those two men were sent to concentration camp as well.
LAMB: You mention the word--the name Miep.
Ms. MULLER: Yes.
LAMB: And how do you pronounce her last name?
Ms. MULLER: Gies, like `geese' or--but in Dutch, you would say...
Ms. MULLER: ...Gies, yes.
LAMB: She seems to be very important to the story, because you have a--kind of an addenda--addendum in the back where--the--or an essay that she wrote.
Ms. MULLER: She's one--she's the woman sitting down. The other one's Bep Voskuijl, the standing-up one. And Miep was one of the five helpers. So it was Kleiman, Kugler, Bep, Miep and her husband. Miep is the only still living helpers. All--still living helper. All the others have died in the meantime. And so Miep--she's the last one who can tell of what really happened.
LAMB: Where did you find her?
Ms. MULLER: She's living in Amsterdam, 89 years old, and still very--very alive, very awake, very--very curious, vivid person. And I was--even though in the beginning, it seemed that I couldn't meet her, because she had a stroke some time ago and she moved slowly and she speaks slowly, but she remembers everything. Then I was lucky that through a friend of hers, I could meet her and I could meet her regularly and I had the chance to become a friend of hers, really.
LAMB: How much time did you spend with her?
Ms. MULLER: Ooh, I can't tell. I visited her very often during the last two years.
LAMB: She had written her own book?
Ms. MULLER: An author did for her--or, did together with her, Alison Gold, 10 years ago, but it's under her name and it's called "Anne Frank Remembered," and it's her life story and--brought together with the Frank stories.
LAMB: How many people do you figure--and I know in the back, you list everybody and where they are today. And a lot of 'em are dead, but some are still alive. How many different people did you meet with in preparation for your book?
Ms. MULLER: Well, I met more than 20 people who knew Anne Frank personally and who knew the family personally before and during the war. And I met many more, of course, who knew Otto Frank after the war and who are involved in the Anne Frank story in one or the other way--historians and people working at museums and at archives. But for me, of course, the most important sources were the survivors who--school friends and relatives and the first boyfriend of Anne Frank and people who really went through so much with her.
LAMB: Is her first boyfriend alive?
Ms. MULLER: Oh, yes. He lives in New Jersey.
LAMB: What's his name?
Ms. MULLER: His name is Ed Silberberg. He was called Hello 'cause he's--he was German, born German and his grandfather hated the name Helmuth that his real name was, so he called him Hello, and that was the name he used as long as he was young and living in Europe. And right after war, he moved to the United States. He didn't want to be reminded about all he had to go through.
LAMB: Is he Jewish?
Ms. MULLER: Oh, yes.
LAMB: And what happened to him during this same period?
Ms. MULLER: You know, he met Anne for the last time on the day before she went into hiding, and immediately after she disappeared, he had to leave Holland because he was 16 years old and he was exactly the age that the Germans took the young boys and young girls to the so-called abatz steintz which was actually meaning that they were taken to concentration camps. So he had to disappear. And he knew that his parents were living in Belgium, which was also an occupied country, but he had to go somewhere, so he managed to cross the border to Belgium. And he was lucky to find his parents in Brussels, and they went into hiding. And they were hidden exactly for the same time, 25 months, as the Franks. And the sad story is--I mean, he was lucky and Anne and her family were unlucky because on the day that the Franks were deported from Westerbork, the Dutch concentration camp, to Auschwitz on the very last train that left Holland for the east--for Auschwitz. He in Belgium, just a few hundred kilometers away, was freed by the Allies.
LAMB: How about your own family? Are you Jewish?
Ms. MULLER: No, I'm not Jewish.
LAMB: And if you're not, is it--are you treated differently than someone who is Jewish as you went through this process of collecting your information?
Ms. MULLER: Not at all, no. I mean, the survivors, they--I think they are happy that a third after-war generation person is interested in their story. And also, my experience was that many of them are only now ready to talk about what they went through. They didn't speak about it with their children, really, to speak with--about it with their grandchildren, many of them. And probably--first of all, for example, talking about Hello Silberberg, he was one of the people who, right after war, had only one wish: to live a normal life, to forget about what--not forget about what he had to go through but not to be reminded every day what he had to go through and just try to be a normal person, to be accepted as a normal person and to build up a life. And actually, nobody really asked me if I was Jewish or not a lot. A few people asked, of course, but that's because I come from Austria, and the role of Austria in--during the Second World War was not a very--not one that you can be proud of as a citizen of Austria, to put it gentle.

I mean, we know that the Austrian Nazis--I don't speak about the Austrians now in general--the Austrian Nazis were often much worse than the German Nazis and that the Austrian--many Austrian citizens were looking away when their neighbor Jews were deported, as if it was none of their business. And it was--it's really a sad thing that you have to feel ashamed about, not--it's something that I don't feel guilty about because I'm third generation, it's not my fault, but I still feel ashamed about it and I feel it's my duty to do something to change--to try to do something small to change things.
LAMB: How many biographies have been written, do you know, in history of Anne Frank?
Ms. MULLER: There was no biography on Anne Frank yet, so this is, to my knowledge--and I really did a lot of research--the first biography that addresses grown-up readers as well. There were books for--which really turn to children, small booklets, mainly. But there was no real biography which tries to put Anne in--connect her with her family history and with the history as well.
LAMB: I have a copy here of the Bantam Books edition of the--they call it "The Definitive Edition: The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank," and it's written by Otto Frank and--Is it Mirjam--I don't know how you pronounce it--Pressler?
Ms. MULLER: Mirjam Pressler. She lives in Munich. And the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel asked her to do this new edition, which is interesting...
LAMB: 1991.
Ms. MULLER: That was 1991. And it's very--it's a bit of a problematic edition because it--what it did, what Mirjam Pressler did and what she had to do was to add a lot to the diary which came from the first edition of Anne's diary. This is complicated to explain, but Anne wrote her diary twice. She first wrote her original diary, and then in May '44, she started to kind of edit and rewrite her diary. She--from the very first entry, she started to copy it and to leave things out and to add some other things because she was already thinking about using this diary as a basis for a novel she was--she wanted to publish after war. And what Otto Frank did in '47--he based his diary publication on the second version that Anne wrote. And now in nineteen one--in 1991, in this so-called definitive edition, many parts of her first diary were added, which is interesting, because it gives more of a authentic picture of what Anne really thought when she was 13 and 14, and not only what she wanted in her last version as a 15-year-old. But it's like of--mixed-up--two versions mixed up and the reader can't really distinguish between what Anne thought as a 13-year-old and what she thought as a 15-year-old.
LAMB: But in your book, you have little notations that say--says, `version A,' and, `version B.' And there is a version C?
Ms. MULLER: The version C is what Otto originally edited. And coming back to this definitive edition, saying that it was done by Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler, Otto Frank, of course, when this was done was already 11 years dead.
LAMB: He died in what year?
Ms. MULLER: In 1980, so he has nothing to do with this edition. It was just put on for copyright reasons, really.
LAMB: And you have here the--some things you brought along. They're actually a different color of paper. What's this?
Ms. MULLER: Well, as I said, I was lucky to find five pages out of the second diary that Anne Frank wrote that Otto Frank had taken out of this diary because it includes information that he didn't want the public to know. And until end of last year, nobody except a friend of his, to whom he gave these pages--a half year before he died, knew about the existence of these pages, really. And...
LAMB: Did you quote from these pages in your book?
Ms. MULLER: I was hoping to quote from these pages. That's why I went to see the president of the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, who is a cousin of Anne Frank. And I was reading these pages to him, and he could read them themselves to make him understand that they don't have any information that would be embarrassing to Anne Frank or the family or anybody would not--would destroy the picture that we have of Anne Frank. But the Anne Frank Foundation eventually decided not to let me quote from the pages. That was not because of the content, of course, but because they will publish it themselves now.
LAMB: But you have copies that you brought along with you. Why can you carry them around if you can't quote from them?
Ms. MULLER: Well, I--the gentleman who owns these pages, Cor Suijk, has given me these photocopies. And while I don't publish these pages, but why I brought them is because many people, with whom I speak, ask, `Are they really real? Are--what is this whole story, about the five pages, about? Probably they are fake. You know, probably they have to do with something like the Hitler diaries that turned out to be a fake.' And that's why I wanted to show them to you, even though they are only copies, because...
LAMB: And these are--this...
Ms. MULLER: ...there's no doubt they're real.
LAMB: These are her actual hand--this is her handwriting?
Ms. MULLER: This is her handwriting, yeah. And then at the bottom, she signs with, `Yours, Anne.' That's how she signed all the letters that she wrote because she--at one point she decided to write her diary in the form of a letter to her imaginative friend, Kitty.
LAMB: How many pages were there written actually in her diary? I mean--and this is what the pages looked like? They're this size?
Ms. MULLER: Yes. That's the second diary. That's exactly the size of the pages. And it was well over 200 pages, the second edition. And the pages originally--the paper she used originally was double sized, and she folded them, so it became this size. And she used blue paper and pink paper or, like, rose paper. And it was--that was the typical office paper in that time, which Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl brought to her every day from the office. And at this stage of war paper was--people were very short of paper. Paper was a very precious good, so she had to--she was aware that she had to be very careful. This paper is like very thin, very delicate, so it's torn apart, as well.
LAMB: What did she write with? What kind of a pen?
Ms. MULLER: Mainly she wrote with ink, and she got the pen from her grandmother on her mother's side when she was nine years old. And it was something very special for a nine-year-old girl to have a real pen in these days. And she lost that pen in the hiding place because, with some papers and some waste, it was thrown into the oven. And she writes a very nice, little story about the funeral of her pen.
LAMB: And when--who found the diary, or who found the pages? Now the--you say the second part had 200 pages. How many pages were the first diary?
Ms. MULLER: Well, that's several booklets. We have four books, or booklets, were kept. The whole year of '43 has been lost, and so probably it's two--one, two or even more booklets that were lost. We don't know about that exactly. But Miep Gies found that--the diary--the whole thing. She--Anne, because she was so afraid that anybody of--in the hiding place would read her diary, she hid everything that she had written. And her father had given her his briefcase to keep, to store everything she had written. And on the day they were arrested, the police officer, Silberbauer, who had arrested them, needed some...
LAMB: That's the name--the fellow's name was Silberbauer.
Ms. MULLER: Yes--needed some bag to carry the jewelry and whatever he was --the things that he was taking from the hiding place, like mainly--mostly jewelry--needed a bag to carry it. So Otto gave him the briefcase, and he throw all the papers without caring of what they were--throw them in the floor. And that's where Miep Gies, who came back after the arrest of the Jews to see what the hiding place was looking like, found...
LAMB: So Miep Gies, who is not a Jew and worked for Otto Frank in the regular main part of the shop, found these pages in the diary. What did she do with them then?
Ms. MULLER: Well, she took everyth--together with Bep Voskuijl, she took everything that she could find and see together...
LAMB: After the whole group...
Ms. MULLER: ...and brought it to her office...
LAMB: After the eight had been taken away?
Ms. MULLER: Yes. That was in late afternoon, after the Jews and the Franks and the van Pels had been arrested. She took the pages, and she brought them to her office. She didn't read any of it. She put it into her office table and kept it there until Otto Frank came back after the war. Her colleagues, like Kleiman--Kleiman was, of course, arrested, too, then. But after he came back from the concentration camp, they all wanted to read the diary, but Miep, thank God, forbid them to do so because now, she says, that if she had read the diary, she would have had to throw it away because there were so many names inside that the police would use against them; you know, so much proof of--about what was going on in the hiding place that, for sure, Miep and Bep would have been arrested, too. So thank to her, diary was kept.
LAMB: Where is the diary today?
Ms. MULLER: Otto Frank, in his last will, gave it to the state of Holland to the War Documentation Center in Amsterdam. That's where--they keep it there in a big safe, and they only turn the pages every three months so that they preserve it there.
LAMB: Have you seen the diary yourself?
Ms. MULLER: Yes, I have.
LAMB: Why did they show it to you?
Ms. MULLER: Because I had--I don't know. Because I ask for--I mean, I couldn't--I was not allowed to touch it. I wasn't allowed to work with it because there are, anyway, copies. But I had this wish to be able to see it.
LAMB: What was the first year it was published, and what were the circumstances? How many copies were made?
Ms. MULLER: It was first published in Holland in '47, and it was not easy for Otto Frank to find a publisher because, so short after war, nobody was really--could imagine that there was an interest for it. Two and a half thousand copies were printed, and it sold--well, not very well. Then Otto Frank had...
LAMB: That was in--I think I've got written 1947.
Ms. MULLER: Yes. And then Otto Frank had a difficult time finding an American publisher and finding a German publisher. And in '52, the book was published here in America, and it was a success and the critics wrote very good about it, but a big success, really long selling, huge success it only became after the theater play was done and after film about the diary was made.
LAMB: Do you have any idea how many copies have been sold worldwide?
Ms. MULLER: Well, the Anne Frank Foundation sticks to the--to 26 million--approximately 26 million copies that have been sold worldwide. It's--they are up to 30 million at least, and they don't say it exactly, but let's say it's about 30 million copies that have been sold worldwide in more than 55 languages.
LAMB: How much money goes to the Anne Frank Foundation every time one is sold? Do you know?
Ms. MULLER: The Anne Frank Foundation doesn't want to speak about it. They don't have to. They don't have to say what they earn.
LAMB: Under what law? Where is the Anne Frank Foundation located?
Ms. MULLER: In Switzerland. And they--as a foundation, they have to keep to certain rules, but they don't have to say how much they earn. I am an author myself, and I know how big the percentage is that you get from each sold book and it's usually something between 5 percent and 12 percent. And the more copies you sell, the higher the percentage gets, of course. So if it's only $1 per copy that they earn, which I think is reasonable, then without any surplus that they make on the banks--I don't know the word in English now--anything they earn by investing...
LAMB: Interest. Interest.
Ms. MULLER: Any interest that they earn during the years, it--that they have earned about $30 million.
LAMB: One point you make in the book: You say that Miep Gies had a child at age 41 named Paul...
Ms. MULLER: Yes.
LAMB: ...and that Otto Franks, because of all that she had done for him, promised to give money to Paul when he died. But you found that when he died, Otto Frank in 1980 only gave Paul $10,000?
Ms. MULLER: Less, yes.
LAMB: $5,000--$5,000?
Ms. MULLER: Yes.
LAMB: Did that bother Miep Gies when you talked to her?
Ms. MULLER: Well, it doesn't bother her at all because she's not money interested. What actually happened is that she thought that Otto Frank didn't have more money to give to her and that giving her $5,000 was already generous. I mean, that's what--how--what her character is like. Now that she knows how much money Otto Frank already had at this stage, of course she's a bit sad, but she would never--never, ever criticize him for that. I, myself, find it a bit strange, to say the least, that after all she and her husband had done for Otto Frank, he didn't think about giving more to her, even though--I mean, you can't pay back what she has done for him in money anyway, but, I mean, she never was wealthy. Her husband was always working very hard, and they didn't have a very good life. So the money could have helped her to go on holiday or whatever.

I was thinking very long whether I should write that or not, and I knew that people would be astonished that the perfect person, Otto Frank, did such a thing. And I think it makes him more human. Nobody's so perfect as not to have one or the other--not so good side on--in his character. So I found it, yeah, necessary to show him as a human being.
LAMB: You also think you've isolated the person that turned them in when they were living in that house in Amsterdam. And the--Officer Silberbauer came with--What?--three Dutch policemen with him to pick them up, the eight Jews, on that day and to move them out into the trains and eventually into the concentration camps. Who was the person, you think, that told the police that they--Jews were being kept there?
Ms. MULLER: I think that it was most probably the cleaning woman, Lena Hartog. She was one of the cleaning women working there, in the front building. She didn't come every day, but about twice a week. And her husband was working there as well. And she gave warnings--she--about a month before the Jews were arrested, she told to different people that she knew that there were Jews in hiding there and that she couldn't watch that any longer because she thought that she and her husband and the other people there were in danger because of that. And, well, obviously she was stupid, you know. But she...
LAMB: How did you find this out?
Ms. MULLER: Well, the first hint came from Miep Gies. She was--for the last 50 years, that she--she was convinced that it was not Willem van Maaren, the person we always thought that betrayed the family was the betrayer. She thought that he was an unpleasant person, but he would never have--he didn't do that. She was more thinking about Lena Hartog. She never spoke about it because she couldn't prove it. She didn't have a proof, and she had learned during the war that you don't speak about things that you have no proof for.

I then went back to the police records. There were two investigations after the war, '48 and '63, to try to find out who betrayed the family. And Lena Hartog van Bladeren was one of the people who was interviewed by the police, as well as her husband, and she--I found out, by comparing the interview files and things, that she didn't tell the truth. She actually lied to the police, but they didn't follow these trails at that time, which is a pity really because I'm sure she should have been brought to court.
LAMB: Has anybody ever done what you did here, the Anne Frank Family Tree?
Ms. MULLER: Well, family members have. I was lucky to find a member of the Hollander family, Eddie Fraifeld, who now lives with his family in Virginia, who has been working hard for the last years to stick together this family tree with the help of still-living family members.
LAMB: If I calculated right, there's only one member living: Buddy Elias. Is that the...
Ms. MULLER: Well, he's the closest still-living family member of the Frank family.
LAMB: Lives where?
Ms. MULLER: He lives in Basel, Switzerland.
LAMB: Seventy-three years old, I calculated.
Ms. MULLER: Yes.
LAMB: What role did he play in your book?
Ms. MULLER: Well, he has two roles. He's--first of all, he's a cousin of Anne Frank, and she liked him very much. They liked each other very much. They played together and things. And second of all, he's the current president of the Anne Frank Foundation, so he's responsible for the copyright and for everything that is going on with the Anne Frank diary. And as much as he helped me in the beginning and as close as we got, he showed me a lot of family correspondence that has never been published and he told me a lot of stories about the family--as much--I had problems with him in the end when I found the five pages. And he had to turn to me, in the role of the president of the Anne Frank Foundation, and he wasn't very happy about what I found.
LAMB: So in the end, once the officer picked them up--what happened to Anne Frank and her family? And why did Otto Frank, the only one of the eight who survived--why did he survive?
Ms. MULLER: Well, immediately after they were arrested, they were brought to a prison in Amsterdam, where they stayed for two nights, and then they were sent by train to the Dutch camp Westerbork, that was used as--to collect the deported Jews before they were brought to--further east or to a German--if they were lucky, to a German concentration camp, but most of them to Auschwitz and Sobibor.

They stayed there for a month, and they were full of hope that the end of war was so near that probably they wouldn't be brought further east. But they were so unlucky as to be taken on the very last train that left Westerbork for Auschwitz. And they arrived in Auschwitz in early September, and they stayed there--Anne, with her mother and her sister, and Otto, of course, in the men's camp--they stayed there until end of October, beginning of November. And then Anne and Margot were selected to be brought to Bergen-Belsen, whereas their mother had to stay in Auschwitz, where she died in January '45.

And Otto Frank survived in Auschwitz because he was--once he got beaten by an officer, he was brought to the hospital--the so-called hospital of the camp. And he was there when the Germans evacuated the camp, and all the Jews that were still in the camp were forced on the death marches, where most of them died. So he could hide in the--in this hospital barrack. And he was lucky that he was left alone, and he was there until the Russians came to free the camp. And then he was brought--via Odessa, he was brought back to Amsterdam.
LAMB: I'm looking at a--I don't know if you--have you seen The New York Times' Sunday review of your book yet?
LAMB: Well, I've got, so--I mean, this is being taped. By the time this runs, you--I have it right here. Would you--I'll give it--you a chance to look at it later. Let me just say, without going overboard, it is a positive review. So...
Ms. MULLER: So I can relax.
LAMB: It's by Jonathan Rosen, as a matter of fact. And I was looking in here, and I can't find it quickly, but one of the things that Mr. Rosen mentioned was that, in the end--I don't want to try to paraphrase it too much, but in the end you point out that she--this is not--the end of the story is not a very pretty story and that you--you go into some detail about how she died and what life was like at the end. Has that been done before?
Ms. MULLER: There was a documentary before, which is called "The Last Seven Months," done by an--a documentary-maker in Amsterdam, Willy Lindwer, who did a really great job finding survivors--female survivors who had met Anne and her family in the camps. So there were interviews telling about their personal experience in the camp and how they met Anne and what they experienced meeting her.

I found even more people who met Anne Frank. For example, a school friend of her who now lives in Sao Paulo in Brazil and who could remember very well the vivid, living, extroverted, funny, sometimes very difficult Anne Frank of school times and then this broken girl with the shaved head and completely desperate in Bergen-Belsen, and who could tell me also a lot about what life was like there in these days.
LAMB: One of the things that Jonathan Rosen, who's a culture editor of the Forward, a newspaper, says, `Unfortunately, though we are shown a parting glimpse of Anne dying, we are given no sense of the people killing her. Naziism in this book is an unexamined evil, abstract as an illness that Anne and her family avoid catching for as long as possible. Muller prefers, after describing the arrest, to tell a seemingly straightforward narrative, beginning with Anne's birth in Frankfurt in 1929.' You did--did you purposely not talk a lot about the Nazis themselves?
Ms. MULLER: Well, I think I did talk and that I did try to talk about the Nazis and I did try to personalize it as well. Maybe he's right that I could have done it more and--I--you can always add things to a book to make it better. And of--maybe it's a good remark.
LAMB: Where do you live now?
Ms. MULLER: I still have a basis in Munich, but I'm most of the time in Vienna.
LAMB: And who do you work for when you're not talking about your book?
Ms. MULLER: I'm a freelance writer for several German and Austrian magazines and newspapers.
LAMB: Where did you get your education?
Ms. MULLER: In Vienna, at university and Vienna University.
LAMB: And what has this experience been like for you, writing? Is this your first book?
Ms. MULLER: It's not my first book. I have written another book. But it's the biggest work I have done, until now, to put it this way, and the most important work that I've done until now.
LAMB: When did you finish the book?
Ms. MULLER: Last summer.
LAMB: When was it--was it published in Europe before it was published here in the United States?
Ms. MULLER: No. It was published simultaneously, so the translators had a really hard job trying to catch up with what I've done, but we managed. And I had a fabulous editor at Henry Holt Metropolitan, Sarah Bershtel. So I'm happy that it was brought out at the same time.
LAMB: Who owns Metropolitan? Henry Holt? Is it Metropolitan Books?
Ms. MULLER: Yes. It belongs to Henry Holt and it's...
LAMB: And who bought the book in the first place? Who was the person that liked this idea?
Ms. MULLER: It was Sara Bershtel and Michael Naumann.
LAMB: And Michael Naumann is doing what now?
Ms. MULLER: He's now going to be the state minister of culture in the new German government.
LAMB: Did you ever meet him?
Ms. MULLER: Oh, yes, I met him several times in New York. And by chance, I met him also in Munich where he was for a pre-election campaign.
LAMB: How many copies did they publish altogether? Do you know?
Ms. MULLER: I don't know that exactly.
LAMB: How many languages was it published in?
Ms. MULLER: In the beginning--now it was published simultaneously in German, Dutch and English, and it will be published in spring next year in Japanese, French, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, many languages.
LAMB: And how many places--countries have you traveled to to promote your book?
Ms. MULLER: To promote my book, only in the three countries that it was published, until now. To research, in many more countries.
LAMB: And what's been the reaction from your standpoint? How controversial was this book over in--in either Germany or Switzerland, where the Anne Frank Foundation is?
Ms. MULLER: Well, in the very beginning, it was all about the five pages. And I'm--thank God people who read the book realized that, although, of course, it's an exciting thing that I was able to find these five unpublished pages, they are just a small part of the book. And they add something to the story, but it--they are not the story. There's much more in the book that, I think, is of interest than--that can understand--can add to the understanding of Anne Frank. And the reaction, mostly, was very positive. People were surprised that there was no such book until now, and I think they appreciate it--that there is one now.
LAMB: Do you think you would like Anne Frank?
Ms. MULLER: I think she was a quite difficult person, very outspoken, very direct. She hated lies, and she was very often uncomfortable being so direct. But I think I would like her. I think I would admire her having an opinion on things and standing up for this opinion. This is something I find very special in people, even--and I find that more people should have, even if it's uncomfortable and controversial, often.
LAMB: What did you do with your own diary when you were a kid?
Ms. MULLER: Well, I still have them in a box somewhere at home, but as I was living a very comfortable, free life and I had the chance to do whatever I like, like meeting friends whenever I wanted, I never kept my--such an intensive diary like Anne did.
LAMB: This is what the book looks like. The author, Melissa Muller, has been our guest. Thank you very much.
Ms. MULLER: Thanks for inviting me.

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