A lost treasure trove (6,000 documents) from her grandmother's attic about Anne Frank and her family, now woven into a chronicle.An old lady dies in Basel, Switzerland. Her devoted daughter-in-law, Gertrude, steels herself to do what all families must in the aftermath of death—she heads upstairs to the attic to sort through the effects. But Helene Elias wasn't just any old lady, and none could put a price on what she left as an inheritance.
Helene Elias was born Helene Frank, sister to Otto Frank, and thus Anne Frank's aunt. Alice Frank, the matriarch and grandmother of the family, left Germany for Switzerland in the 1930s, and though her family had scattered across Europe, she remained at the hub of their lives. They wrote voluminously, sent photos, visited for summer holidays and reunions, and of course wrote about them when they returned home. Alice kept every bit she could. It all sat upstairs in the house, which was eventually passed down to Alice's grandson, Buddy Elias, Anne Frank's childhood playmate, and his wife, Gertrude.
What Gertrude found has become an utterly engaging, endearing, and convincing account of a family that tells us who shaped Anne Frank, made her who she was. They believed themselves to be ordinary members of Germany's bourgeoisie. That they were wrong is part of history—one that we celebrate here.