On this day: March 1933

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Early March - The Frank family begins making preparations to leave Germany. 

Anne's parents, Otto and Edith, are looking for opportunities to leave Germany. Adolf Hitler has been in power as Chancellor since the end of January. Otto and Edith reach a decision when Otto’s brother-in-law, Erich Elias,  gives him an opportunity to set up a Dutch branch of Opekta-Werke, a company that produces an ingredient for jam-making. Erich accepted an offer to set up the Swiss branch and moved to Switzerland with his family in 1931. 

They are not the only Jewish Germans trying to leave. The initial response to the Nazi takeover is a substantial wave of German-Jewish emigration, much of it to neighboring European countries such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland.

Years later and after the war, Otto will reflect on their decision to leave in a letter:

Because so many of my German countryman were turning into hordes of nationalistic, cruel, antisemitic criminals, I had to face the consequences, and though this did hurt me deeply, I realized that Germany was not the world and I left my country forever.

(Source: Cara Weiss Wilson, Dear Cara: Letters from Otto Frank.)

March 5 - The last elections take place in Nazi Germany.

Despite possessing the coercive powers of the state, the Nazi Party receives less than half (43.9%) of the popular vote. As a result, the Nazi Party remains in coalition with the DNVP (German Nationalist People's Party) to achieve a majority in the German parliament. In Frankfurt, where the Frank family lives, the Nazis win the local election and a swastika flag is hung outside the town hall

March 10 - Edith takes a passport photo of herself with her daughters, Anne and Margot, in Frankfurt.

Anne is three-years-old. Her sister, Margot, is seven.

March 22 - The SS establishes the first concentration camp.

Outside the town of Dachau, Germany, the SS (Schutzstaffel, Protection Squads) establishes the first SS-managed concentration camp to incarcerate political opponents of the regime. Dachau is the first concentration camp established by the Nazis and the only one to remain in operation from 1933 until 1945.

March 23 - The German parliament passes the Law for Rectification of the Distress of Nation and Reich, commonly known as the Enabling Act.

This law allows Hitler, as Chancellor, to initiate and sign legislation into law without obtaining parliamentary consent. The act effectively establishes a dictatorship in Germany.

Sources & Related Links

Emigration plans (video)

History of the Frank Family

Key Dates: 1933

Photo: Elias Family in Basel, Switzerland

Photo: Anne, Edith and Margot Frank, Frankfurt am Main, 10 March 1933

Photo: A swastika flag is hoisted on the Frankfurt am Main town hall the day after the Nazis win the local election

Otto Frank's businesses

German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1939