Former Classmate Puts a Face on Anne Frank's Lost Love

The Frank family's hiding place was discovered and they were arrested on Aug. 4, 1944, and deported to Auschwitz a month later. Only Anne's father, Otto, survived and lived to publish her diary. According to officials at the Anne Frank House, the record books show that Peter Schiff died May 31, 1945 in Auschwitz, four months after the liberation of the camp, and a few months after Anne Frank's own death, of typhus, in Bergen-Belsen. They were respectively 18 and 16 at the time.

After the war, Ernst Michaelis looked for his friend, with little hope. "I put him on a list of people I tried to trace, but I never heard back," he told ABC News. "I was pretty well certain that he got killed in the Holocaust."

With his own ghosts to deal with – his entire family had perished in the war – Michaelis did not pursue it further. "If he'd survived," Michaelis adds, "he would have been a completely different person."

Michaelis had read Anne Frank's Diary, and suspected Anne's "Petel" to be his childhood friend, but had never followed it up. It was only after his wife passed away last summer that Michaelis picked up a book she had been reading during her long illness. It was Anne Frank's Diary. "I realized there were no pictures of Peter," Michaelis says. He then got in touch with the Anne Frank Trust in London, which where very interested in meeting him.

On Jan. 18 of this year, Michaelis took his children and grandchildren with him on a trip to Amsterdam. Together, they delivered the photograph, a gift given to him by his school friend 69 years ago.

"Normally childhood friendships are not for publication," he told us. "But in this case, I think it is permissible."

Michaelis hopes a picture of his friend, whom he describes as "warm-hearted," will appear in future editions of the book. "Of course, if she had known her feelings would be published she would have been extremely embarrassed," he says about the young writer. "But the feelings must have been true, else she wouldn't have written about him that way."

Emily Wither contributed to this report.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Patrick Crawford is pictured in this photo from his Facebook page.
Meteorologist Patrick Crawford KCEN/Facebook
Kate Middleton Learns Sign Language
Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: George Stinney Jr., the youngest person ever executed in South Carolina, in 1944, is seen in this undated file photo.
South Carolina Department of Archives and History/AP Photo
PHOTO: Johns Hopkins University sent nearly 300 acceptance emails to students who had actually been denied.
Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun/Getty Images