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About Hermann van Pels
Hermann van Pels was a German-Jewish refugee who hid with Anne Frank and her family during World War II. When the "Dairy of Anne Frank" was published in 1947, Hermann van Pels name was changed in the book to "Hermann Van Daan." Hermann van Pels was born on 31 March 1898 in Gehrde, Germany. His parents were Aron and Lina Vorsänger van Pels. He had six siblings: Ida, Henny Marx, Gusti, Peter, Max, Meta, and Klara Neumann. On December 5, 1925, Hermann van Pels married Auguste Röttgen. Their only son, Peter van Pels, was born on November 8, 1926, in Osnabruck, Germany, near the Dutch/German border. Until 1933, Herman and his sister, Ida van Pels, helped operate the family meat seasoning business. However, as the Nazis consolidated their power and introduced more laws against the Jews, the van Pels family was forced to sell their business. In June 1937, Hermann, Peter, and Gusti moved to Amsterdam. Hermann van Pels and family lived at 34 Zuider Amstellan in Amsterdam with the Franks being their neighbors. Otto Frank hired Hermann van Pels in 1938 as a Herb and Sausage Production Specialist for his company, Pectacon. Soon the families became great friends. The German Army invaded Holland in May 1940, and as anti-Jewish measures escalated in occupied Holland, Hermann van Pels and Otto Frank began making plans to go into hiding. In July 1942, the van Pels and the Franks left their homes for 263 Prinsengracht where they would live for the next two years without going outside. They depended on friends (Miep Gies, Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman and Bep Voskuijl) for food and company. In August of 1944, an anonymous informant told the Gestapo where the Franks and the van Pels were hiding, and they were soon arrested. In September 1944, Hermann van Pels, his son Peter, and Otto Frank were taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. He was assigned hard labor until an injury to his hand forced him to stop working. Unable to work, he was selected for disposal in the gas chambers. In mid-October 1944, Hermann van Pels was gassed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, and his remains cremated and scattered.
Hermann van Pels begins working with Otto Frank in 1938. Miep Gies remembers him as “tall, large man” and “quite an agreeable sort, [who] had no trouble fitting into the routine” in the company.
Hermann acquired his knowledge of the butcher's trade by working in the business of his father, Aron van Pels (who was originally Dutch). After his marriage to Lina Vorsänger, Aron settled down in Gehrde, Germany. He worked there for his German father-in-law, a wholesaler in butchers' equipment. Aron and Lina had six children: Max, Henny, Ida, Hermann, Klara and Meta. Hermann was born on March 31, 1898. He became the representative of his father's business in Osnabrück, Germany.
On December 5, 1925 he married the German Auguste (Gusti) Röttgen. She then became Dutch, since according to German law women automatically assumed the nationality of their husbands. Gusti was born on September 29, 1900 in Buer, near Osnabrück, and her father was a merchant. Hermann and Gusti lived in Osnabrück, near the Dutch border, where Peter was born on November 8, 1926.
In 1933 the Nazis announced a nationwide boycott of all Jewish businesses. The boycott in Osnabrück was disastrous because a Nazi fanatic, a photographer by trade, hung photographs in his shop window of non-Jews who did business with Jewish merchants. Father Aäron van Pels owned a business in butcher supplies in Osnabrück. Hermann and Ida had both worked for their father. Hermann's sister Henny moved her dressmaking business to Amsterdam in 1935. Hermann follows in 1937 and Aäron in 1938 after the Kristalnacht.
Hermann van Pels, known as Hermann (Hans in the first manuscript) van Daan in Anne's diary, died in Auschwitz. He was the only member of the group to be gassed. However, according to eyewitness testimony, this did not happen on the day of his arrival there. Sal de Liema, an inmate at Auschwitz who knew both Otto Frank and Hermann van Pels, said that after two or three days in the camp, van Pels mentally "gave up", which was generally the beginning of the end for any concentration camp inmate. He later injured his thumb on a work detail, and requested to be sent to the sick barracks. Soon after that, during a sweep of the sick barracks for selection, he was sent to the gas chambers. This occurred about three weeks after his arrival at Auschwitz, and his selection was witnessed by both his son Peter and by Otto Frank.