The Reminiscences of Victor Kugler - the “Mr. Kraler” of Anne Frank’s Diary
Otto Frank, Anne’s father had long prepared a plan to hide his family from the Germans. I, Kleiman, another manager, and two office girls, Miep and Elli, were the only ones aware of the hiding place at the rear of the Frank office and warehouse. A movable bookcase concealed the steps to the hiding place on the upper floors. In July 1942 Mr. and Mrs. Frank and their daughters Margot, aged sixteen, and Anne moved in. A week later Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan and their fifteen-year old son and Dussel, a refugee dentist, joined them. Anne poignantly described the frustrations, tensions, and hopes in her diary. In August 1944 the Gestapo and Dutch police, probably tipped off by an informer, uncovered the hiding place. All eight Jews together with Kleiman and myself were taken to Gestapo headquarters. The Jews were transported to Auschwitz. Kleiman and I were transferred to various prisons, to labor camps, and eventually to Amersfoort concentration camp where we worked in the straw braiders’ shop. Beatings were common. On the day I was to be transported to Germany, the Americans bombed the railway station and so we were transferred to a forced labor camp in Zwolle, where conditions were much improved and where the townspeople kept bringing us food, the church supported us spiritually, and the Red Cross supplied straw mattresses and blankets. I was now appointed “messenger boy” between Wageningen and O.T. headquarters at Ede. My office was in Wageningen and I took over more and more responsibilities and so was able to help many of the camp workers and transfer information to the underground. At the end of the war, I rejoined my wife in Hilversum. Of the eight people hidden in the secret annex, only Otto Frank survived the war.