Hannah “Hanneli” Pick-Goslar, a towering child-witness to the Holocaust whom Anne Frank described in her diary as her best friend, has died at home in Jerusalem, age 93, two weeks before her 94th birthday. Mrs. Pick-Goslar tirelessly lectured, wrote, and gave interviews about her years in exile in Amsterdam, her own time in the concentration camps and her friendship with Anne, providing an essential, intimate picture of the work and life of the young writer, the lone creator of one of the most famous journals in the world.
Like her friend Anne, Hannah Goslar was incarcerated in Bergen-Belsen. Unlike her friend, Mrs. Pick-Goslar survived Bergen-Belsen with her sister Gabi, was re-interred by the Russians and released into US Army care before her 1947 emigration to Israel. There she studied, became a pediatric nurse, married TK Pick, and had a large family, including, today, 11 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren whom she with bracing wit described as “my answer to Hitler.”
By 1957 she was on her first trip to the United States to lecture about the Holocaust and her friendship with Anne. Essentially, for the following 65 years , she never stopped what can only be described as her global public-speaking tour, especially in education of the young — a few short months before her death she was lecturing French and German students via Zoom. Over decades of this illuminating work, she served as the inspiration for books, articles, films and most recently, the 2021 Netflix adaptation of her life, My Best Friend Anne Frank.
Mrs. Pick-Goslar’s was a deep relationship with the preternaturally gifted young writer. They met early in exile, at approximately four, on a shopping trip to the local grocery. It was a felicitous encounter for them both. Both were daughters of upper-middle-class German Jews whose fathers had managed, in the early going of the Thirties, to get their families out of the red-hot center of Nazism only to land in Amsterdam. Hannah “Hannali” Goslar was from Berlin. Anne was from Frankfurt.
Hannali’s father, Hans Goslar, had been the head of the German Press Bureau and an advisor to the German interior ministry, which, as a central planning and intelligence-gathering agency of the Holocaust and the war effort in general, remains one of the many bleak ironies surrounding these two girls. Obviously, as the Nazis took power in 1933, Hans Goslar was not wanted in that post.
Hannah Goslar happened to move into into Merwedeplein 33 with her parents, just two doors down from the Frank family residence at Merwedeplein 37. As Mrs. Pick-Goslar describes it, on the first day of classes at Montessori school, her mother was not at all sure how Hannah would take it. Anne recognized her from across the way, ran up, and embraced her. Obviously, both girls had grown up speaking German, not an especially desired language in Amsterdam of the day. Now they would be growing up together in exile, speaking Dutch.
The friendship deepened dramatically over the school years, according to Anne’s diary and to Mrs. Pick-Goslar’s many accounts. Inevitably, the girls were separated by the Nazis — in July 1942, as Otto Frank devised the plan to create and shelter in what’s called the Secret Annex, the warrenlike suite of rooms in his office building that today is known as the Anne Frank Huis, or Anne Frank House. The legend the Franks created in the community to throw the Germans off the scent was that they had successfully escaped to Switzerland.
And that legend is what Hanneli Goslar thought had happened to her friend Anne for years, until the fateful day in February 1945 when, by then a teenaged inmate in Bergen-Belsen herself, she discovered that there were Dutch people interred in a separate section of the camp. The inmate populations were separated by barbed wire stuffed with straw — to reduce communication, the punishment for which under the SS administrators could be death. Hanneli’s first communication through this fence was with a woman who knew the Franks and more specifically, knew the Frank sisters, Anne and Margot. Suddenly, after a couple of days of requesting contact, Hannah Goslar was speaking with Anne. Both girls burst into tears.
Things were not going well for Anne, or her sister Margot, who had come down with typhus. Hannah Goslar laboriously put together a package of rations and socks, which she tossed over the fence to Anne the next night. It didn’t work — another inmate took the package and refused to give it to Anne. So, Hannah Goslar put together a second package, and tossed that to Anne the next evening. It worked. Mrs. Pick-Goslar relates that they saw each other three or four times, but that the Germans then moved the prisoners on the other side to another part of the camp.
According to Dutch records, Anne Frank died sometime in March 1945, but new research by the Anne Frank Huis indicates that she died some weeks earlier, in February, shortly after her last meeting with Hannah Goslar.
Of the several passages in her journal devoted to Hannah Goslar, arguably the most illuminating, generous, and loving one is Frank’s entry upon learning, in hiding in 1943, of Hannah Goslar’s arrest by the Germans. It goes like this:
“Hanneli, you’re a reminder of what my fate could have been. I hope that you live to the end of the war and return to us.”
Hannah Pick-Goslar did exactly that, and then spent a long life returning that gift of friendship to her friend Anne.
and, after emigrating to Israel in 1947, became a pediatric nurse. She leaves behind a large family, including 11 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren, describing them as “my answer to Hitler.”
A native of Berlin whose father, Hans Goslar, was the head of the German Press Bureau and an advisor to the German interior minister until the Nazis took power in 1933, Hannah “Hanneli” Goslar was four when she and her family were forced to move to Amsterdam. Her father and mother happened to move into into Merwedeplein 33, just two doors down from the Frank family residence at Merwedeplein 37. Hanneli Goslar and Anne Frank first met as they went grocery shopping with their mothers in the neighborhood, and later at the Montessori school, where, on the first day.
Hannah “Hanneli” Goslar
With her father, Hans Goslar and and her sister Gabi, Hannah Goslar was interred in Bergen-BelsenShe was a towering eyewitness to the inner machinery of the Holocaust
Mrs. Pick-Goslar met Anne and the Frank family
Mrs. Pick-Goslar had leaves a large family behind, among them, 11 grandchildren and
A native of Berlin whose father, Hans Goslar, was the head of the German Press Bureau and an advisor to the interior minister until the Nazis took power in 1933, Goslar was four when she and her family were forced to move to Amsterdam. As fate would have it, the Goslars moved just down , as fate would have it. . worked for the
The fourth gift of socks and bread.