The draft executive orders from the Trump administration that call for drastic reform of U.S. immigration and refugee policies have provoked biting criticism from the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, the U.S.-based partner of Amsterdam's Anne Frank House.
Steven Goldstein, the center's executive director, wrote a lengthy Facebook message to President Trump on Wednesday, warning him that he was “driving our nation off a moral cliff.” He also compared Trump's orders to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. “Today the Statue of Liberty weeps over President Trump's discrimination,” Goldstein wrote.
In addition, the center has posted numerous messages to the president on Twitter directly criticizing his proposed policies.
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect claims to have been founded by Otto Frank as the Anne Frank Foundation in 1959. However, a story later published in the Atlantic magazine reported that “the organization’s own historical documentation and people who were part of its founding say it was actually started in 1977, and Otto Frank had no direct involvement.”
Otto was the patriarch of the Frank family, a Jewish family that fled Nazi Germany and spent two years hiding in a secret annex in Amsterdam before being found and deported to a concentration camp. Otto Frank was the only family member to survive the experience.
After he was given his daughter Anne's diary after her death at age 15, he helped arrange for its publication. The resulting book, “The Diary of a Young Girl,” was published in 1947 and offered a view of the family's life in hiding. It subsequently became one of the best-known and most celebrated accounts of life for Jews during the Nazi era. Otto Frank died in 1980.
The Frank family had sought refuge in the United States. In 2007, American University history professor Richard Breitman wrote about his discovery of documents that showed that the Franks had begun a desperate attempt to get visas to flee to America in 1941.
But by that point there was widespread suspicion of Jewish refugees in the country, and the U.S. government had implemented measures designed to make it harder for foreigners to enter the country. Despite considerable effort on behalf of the well-connected Otto Frank, the family was denied entry.
“Anne Frank could be a 77-year-old woman living in Boston today — a writer,” Breitman suggested in an NPR interview in 2007.
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed that he would take a harsh line on immigration and refugees. Draft executive orders from the new administration suggest that the president is aiming to build a wall along the border with Mexico and completely stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States, along with other measures.
Correction: This article originally stated that the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect was founded by Otto Frank in 1959. It has been updated to acknowledge an article published in the Atlantic on April 24, 2017, which stated that this claim was not backed up by evidence and that the center may have started operating in 1977.
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