The Anne Frank Center USA is deeply saddened by the recent death of Buddy Elias, Anne Frank’s first cousin and cherished playmate. He was 89.
“Buddy was a true friend to The Anne Frank Center USA and a devoted champion for a world based on tolerance and justice. Anne wrote about him many times in her famous diary and it is no wonder why – he was simply one of a kind. Our hearts go out to his wife Gerti and sons Patrick and Oliver,” says Yvonne Simons, Executive Director of The Anne Frank Center USA.
Born in 1925 in Frankfurt am Main, Buddy was four years older than his famous cousin. They played together as children before Buddy and his family moved to Switzerland, where Anne, her sister Margot, and their parents regularly visited them before the war broke out.
“She was a little wild one, and I was too. That’s why we got along so well together. She loved theatre, movies and dressing up games,” he told the BBC in 2012.
In the same interview, Buddy recalls seeing Anne’s diary for the first time.
“Otto – Anne’s father – handed it to me and said, look it’s Anne’s book. He was crying. It was such a memorable day…I saw Anne’s picture on the cover and I felt so happy and so proud, but also so sad.”
In his later years, Buddy made his name as an actor and ice-skating comedian before becoming President of the Anne Frank Fonds in 1996. The Foundation was founded in 1963 by Otto Frank who said of its mission: “The Fonds aims to contribute to better understanding between religions, to serve the cause of peace between people, and to encourage international contacts between the young.”
In a similar vein, The Anne Frank Center USA will host a very special program this Saturday in honor of Anne, who died 70 years ago this month. “Remembering Anne Frank” will feature another dear relative of Anne’s – Monica Smith, her second cousin. Mrs. Smith will share her memories of the young writer and discuss her own experiences during the war.