In Memoriam:
Buddy Elias (1925-2015)

Buddy Elias, Anne Frank's closest relative, and his wife, Gerti, in the Anne Frank Exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance, April 2014


The Museum of Tolerance (MOT) mourns the sudden passing of Buddy Elias at his home in Basel, Switzerland on March 16th, 2015.

Bernd “Buddy” was the closest living relative of Anne Frank and passionate guardian of her legacy. Since 1996, Buddy was president of the Anne Frank Fonds, close partners with the Museum of Tolerance in the creation of the exquisite exhibit on Anne Frank that opened at the MOT in October 2013. Buddy recorded a special message for this exhibit, adding the family perspective and sharing his memories and thoughts about his beloved first cousins, Anne and her sister, Margot.

Buddy and his wife, Gerti, visited the Museum on a couple of occasions, and spent a wonderful week at the MOT last April, meeting and speaking with hundreds of students, professionals and public visitors to the new Anne Frank exhibit. Buddy regaled us with fascinating stories and amusing anecdotes about growing up with his cousins, the delightful vacations spent with the Frank family, the letters they exchanged, the fond memories that Anne referenced in her famous diary, and the angst and heartache at learning her cruel fate. As an actor and performer, Buddy held us in rapt attention, moving us from laughter to tears, angst to joy, and despair to empowerment.

Buddy and Gerti were eagerly looking forward to returning to the MOT this year. Sadly, we will not have the pleasure of welcoming Buddy back. We are grateful for his virtual presence in the Anne Frank exhibit, and are uplifted by his humor, spirit and joi de vivre. The MOT proudly bears the mantel of memory of the Shoah and its victims, and continues Buddy’s work to preserve the legacy of Anne Frank and its remarkably relevant lessons for today.

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