Vienna (Austria), Dachau
Frank was born in 1917 in Vienna and lived there until he left Austria. After completing grade school, he entered law school at the University of Vienna. While being brought up in Vienna’s third district, Frank experienced moderate anti-Semitism. Considerably more anti-Semitism was evident at the university. Beatings and muggings of Jewish students was not uncommon.
Following the annexation of Austria by Germany in March 1938, he stopped attending law school since he knew he would not be allowed to complete his studies or practice law because he was Jewish. On the day following Kristallnacht, he heard, while waiting in line at the U.S. Consulate, that Jewish men were being arrested. Instead of returning home, he went into the inner city hoping to get lost in the crowd. Nevertheless, he was arrested by the police and handed over to the SS the following day for shipment to the Dachau concentration camp.
In Dachau one day in January 1939, all the prisoners were required to stand outside at attention the entire night as punishment for the escape of several inmates. Frank suffered extreme frostbite in his fingers and toes from the exposure. When scheduled for release in February 1939, the camp physician denied the release since his injuries would have revealed the mistreatment he received at the camp. Frank was then treated at the camp hospital. He remembers being subjected to medical measurements at Dachau, which were being done to establish the correlation of physical features to racial origin. His head was measured as being oval, contrary to the round head which was theorized by the Nazis as being a Jewish characteristic. This contradiction caused a number of repeat visits to the testing site for additional measurements and tests.
On the day of his release from Dachau on April 1, 1939, he was aided by his non-Jewish block leader, who kept him from being assigned to the rock quarry work detail. The assignment would have delayed his release. Following his release, Frank went to England on a visitor’s permit and from there went to the United States by utilizing a previously attained visa.
Frank is the only survivor of his family. His mother, aunt, and grandmother, who were the only family members alive when the Nazis took over Austria, were deported to concentration camps or to the Lodz ghetto and perished during the war.
Date: January 30, 1996
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Length: 47 minutes
Format: Video recording