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Who Owns Anne Frank’s Legacy: The Frank Museum or the Frank Family?

anne frank
Anne Frank in 1941.

Last month the district court in Amsterdam decided that the Anne Frank House must return 10,000 documents and photographs to the Anne Frank Fonds, Mr. Franks designated universal heir and copyright owner of Anne Frank’s diary.

In 2007, the Fonds lent the documents to the Frank House, site of the Frank’s hiding before their arrest on August 4th, 1944. The Frank House assumed the loan was permanent, but the Fond sued for return of the documents in 2011.

The Fonds, in cooperation with the Frank Family Center, is planning to store the documents in an archive in Frankfurt.  Yves Kugelmann, spokesman for the Fonds, told The New York Times, “The ownership is so clear.  The whole issue is not complicated.  They (the Frank House) don’t have legitimacy.  They don’t have connections to the family.  They are not the heir.”

The Fonds lawsuit was primarily based on tax interests, but the Frank House points out that the Fonds did not agree with the presentation of Anne Frank’s legacy and argue this was their underlying motivation.  The Fonds accused the Frank House of presenting Anne as a “distorted and decontextualized child saint” according to the NYT.

AFS_Dagboek_AF%20075The Frank House may appeal the decision. The Managing Director of the Frank House, Garance Reus-Deedler stated: “We’re not quite ready yet to respond fully and in depth to the ruling. It is too soon to say.”

In a press release the Frank House Executive Director, Ronald Leopold, stated: “The Anne Frank Fonds and the Anne Frank House have worked together well in a strategic partnership for many years; the Anne Frank Fonds as owner of all copyrights owned by Otto Frank during his lifetime, and the Anne Frank House as the educational organization and administrator of the Anne Frank House and the Anne Frank collection operating under a direct mandate from Otto Frank. No difference of opinion ever grew  regarding the objectives of the two organizations, and they worked together on a basis of trust. Unfortunately, this basis of trust appears to have vanished. The Anne Frank House finds this deeply regrettable.”

The court ordered that the documents and photographs be returned to the Anne Frank Fonds by January 1st.

Source: The New York Times, Anne Frank House Press Release