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Pewter mustard pot owned by Otto Frank

Object | Accession Number: 2018.613.4

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    Pewter mustard pot owned by Otto Frank

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    Brief Narrative
    Pewter mustard pot owned by the Frank family. Otto Frank was one of three children born to Michael and Alice Frank in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He had three siblings, Robert, Herbert, and Helene. Michael had founded a family banking business, which his wife and sons took over after his death in 1909. Helene moved to Basel, Switzerland, with her husband in 1931, and Herbert immigrated to France in 1932. After Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany in January 1933, authorities quickly began suppressing the rights and personal freedoms of Jews, and boycotting their businesses. Shortly thereafter, Robert immigrated to England, and Otto immigrated to the Netherlands with his wife, Edith, and two daughters, Anne and Margot. In October 1933, Alice joined Helene in Basel. The Netherlands was invaded by Germany in May 1940, and Otto’s family went into hiding in July 1942. They were discovered and arrested in August 1944, and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in German-occupied Poland. Otto was the only one of the four to survive the Holocaust, and returned to Amsterdam in June 1945. While rebuilding his life, Otto married Fritzi Geireinger, a former neighbor whose daughter he had met while in Auschwitz. Otto joined the rest of his family in Basel in 1952, and married Fritzi the following year. Otto published the diary his daughter, Anne, had used to document their time in hiding, and devoted the rest of his life to fighting for human rights and organized international youth conferences.
    manufacture:  after 1800-before 1900
    manufacture: Europe
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ryan M. Cooper
    base, underside, stamped : T [angel holding scales and a palm] G(?)
    Subject: Otto H. Frank
    Original owner: Otto H. Frank
    Previous owner: Eva Schloss
    Otto Frank (1889-1980) was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, to Michael (1851-1909) and Alice Betty (nee Stern, 1865-1953) Frank. Otto had three siblings, Robert (1886-1953), Herbert (1891–1987), and Helene (later Elias, 1893-1986). Michael owned a bank, and the family lived a privileged lifestyle, practicing a liberal form of Judaism. The Frank children received a quality education, took music lessons, and attended the theater and opera with their parents.

    After Otto graduated from high school, he spent a year at the University of Heidelberg and then moved to New York City for an internship at Macy’s department store. When Michael died in 1909, Alice took over the bank. Otto returned to Germany in 1911 to support his mother. He enlisted in the army in 1915, and worked in an analysis unit during World War I. By the end of the war in 1918, he had attained the rank of lieutenant and was awarded the Iron Cross for his service. After the war, Otto and his brothers joined the bank.

    Otto married Edith Holländer (1900-1945) in Aachen on May 8, 1925. They settled in Frankfurt, and had two daughters, Margot (1926-1945) and Anne (1929-1945). In 1931, Otto’s sister, Helene, moved to Basel, Switzerland. There, her husband Erich Elias, established a branch of the pectin manufacturer Opekta-Werke (a subsidiary of Pomosin). In 1932, Otto’s brother, Herbert, immigrated to France.

    On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Under Hitler, authorities began suppressing the rights of Jews, and boycotting their businesses. Shortly after, Otto and Edith moved their family to the Netherlands. Otto’s brother, Robert, immigrated to England. In October, Alice left Germany, and joined Helene in Basel.

    After arriving in Amsterdam, Otto’s brother-in-law, Erich, helped him start a franchise of the Opekta company. Among his new employees were Johannes Kleiman (1896-1959), Victor Kugler (1900-1981), and Miep Santrouschitz (later Gies, 1909-2010). He also hired Bep Voskuijl (1919-1983) in 1937. The Franks were close with their employees, and often hosted guests at their home. In March 1939, Edith’s mother, Rosa (1866-1942), immigrated to the Netherlands and moved in with the Franks.

    Otto started a second business, Pectacon, which sold herbs and spices. In 1939, he hired Hermann van Pels (1898-1944), a German-Dutch Jew who was knowledgeable about meat and sausage herbs. In 1941, he hired Johan Voskuijl (Bep’s father, 1892-1945), as Opekta’s warehouse manager.

    Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. Under German occupation, the country became subject to the Nuremburg laws, which excluded Jews from citizenship, and mandated the separation of Jews and non-Jews. When the German administration required all Jews to register their business and assets, Otto managed to prevent the Nazis from seizing his company. Johannes Kleimann became the managing director of Opekta. Victor Kugler and Miep’s husband, Jan Gies (1905-1993; they married in July 1941), took over Pectacon under the name Gies & Co., with Jan as the supervisory director and Victor as manager.

    In January 1941, the German authorities mandated the registration of all Jews residing in the Netherlands. Otto wanted to move his family to the United States, but was unable to collect the necessary paperwork. In April, Dutch Jews were required to start wearing the yellow Star of David. As restrictions continued to tighten, and antisemitism grew, Otto set up a hiding place in the attic of his business, which was later dubbed “the Secret Annex.” Johannes Kleimann helped him furnish it, and Johan Voskuijl built a bookcase to hide the entrance.

    In the summer of 1942, German authorities began deporting Jews from the Netherlands, via the Westerbork transit camp. On July 5, Otto’s daughter, Margot, received a summons to report to a labor camp in Germany. The following day, the family moved into the Secret Annex. The following week, Hermann van Pels, along with his wife and son, Auguste (1900-1945) and Peter (1926-1945), joined them. In November, they added an eighth person, Fritz Pfeffer (1889-1944), a German Jewish dentist who became part of their social circle in 1940. Otto’s employees agreed to help them, risking their own safety. The helpers brought supplies, and worked to ensure that the business operated as usual, so as not to draw suspicion. Although Otto had officially turned his business over to his non-Jewish employees, he continued to be involved as much as possible. He would listen in on meetings through the floorboards and work in the office after the staff had left. With eight people hiding in a confined space, conflict often arose, and Otto did his best to maintain peace.

    After two years of hiding, the annex was discovered by the authorities. The group was arrested on August 4, 1944, and taken to Westerbork transit camp. While there, Otto performed forced labor, while Edith, Margot, and Anne were forced to take old batteries apart for reuse. On September 3, they were all deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in German-occupied Poland. The men and women were separated after they arrived, and Otto, Hermann, and Fritz were assigned to forced labor. Otto initially worked in a gravel mine, then was later transferred to a crew that built roads outside of the camp. Hermann was killed in the gas chambers in October 1944. Peter was assigned a job in the camp post office, and was occasionally able to get Otto extra food. At one point, Otto was severely beaten, and was only admitted to the sick barracks after intervention by some of his fellow inmates.

    In January 1945, Auschwitz was evacuated in advance of the Soviet arrival. Those able to walk were sent on a forced march, including Peter, but Otto had to remain in the sick barracks. He weighed 115 pounds and was too weak to join the march. Soviet forces entered the camp on January 27, 1945. Otto was nursed back to health, and then left for the Netherlands on February 23. While on the journey, he learned Edith died in the sick barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 6, 1945, three weeks before the camp was liberated.

    Otto arrived in Amsterdam on June 3, and moved in with Miep and Jan Gies. The following month, he learned his daughters had died in Bergen-Belsen. Auguste van Pels died in April 1945 on a transport to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia. Fritz Pfeffer died in December 1944 at Neuengamme concentration camp. Peter van Pels died in the Mauthausen subcamp, Melk, in May 1945, only a few days after liberation. Otto was the only one of the eight who hid in the Annex to survive the Holocaust.

    While trying to rebuild his life, Otto contacted Elfriede (Fritzi) Geireinger (1905-1998), a former neighbor whose daughter he had met while in Auschwitz. Fritzi and her daughter, Eva (later Schloss, b. 1929), had survived the Holocaust, but her husband and son had not. Otto stayed with the Gies’ until 1952, when he immigrated to Basel, Switzerland. The following year, he and Fritzi married.

    During their time in hiding, Anne wrote about her experiences in papers, notebooks, and a diary. Miep saved them when the Annex was raided and gave them to Otto. Two years after the war, Otto had the diary published, and the first edition, titled “Het Achterhuis,” was released in the summer of 1948. Otto regularly corresponded with readers of Anne’s diary, and became friends with some. He devoted the rest of his life to fighting for human rights and organized international youth conferences.
    Eva Geiringer (later Schloss, b. 1929) was born in Vienna, Austria, to Erich (1901-1945) and Elfriede (Fritzi) Markovits (1905-1998) Geiringer, who married in 1923. She had an older brother, Heinz (1926-1945), and they had a very close relationship. Fritzi’s parents lived very close by, and they saw each other every couple of days. Erich was a shoe manufacturer, and exported moccasins until 1934, when The Great Depression caused his firm to go bankrupt. The family moved to a less expensive area of Vienna. During this time, Erich was able to find new business opportunities and worked with connections in the Netherlands, where he began building up capital.

    On March 13, 1938, Austria was annexed into Germany, in what became known as the "Anschluss." Austria became subject to the Nuremberg Laws, which suppressed the rights and personal freedoms of Jews. Eva and Heinz were no longer allowed to attend public school, and had to transfer to a Jewish school, even though Eva never truly identified as Jewish. The Geiringers decided to flee. Erich left first for the Netherlands, followed soon by Heinz. By the time Fritzi and Eva were ready to follow, the Dutch borders had closed. Instead, they snuck into Belgium, where Erich could visit them on weekends. They found a boarding house, and Eva began attending a girls’ school, where she learned French and made new friends.

    The desire to reunite intensified after World War II began in September 1939. Erich was able to obtain a visitation permit so his family could enter the Netherlands, and they joined him in Amsterdam in February 1940. They settled in an area where many other refugees lived, and moved into a building across the street from the Frank family. Eva and Heinz went to the same school as Anne and Margot Frank.

    The Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. Under German occupation, the Netherlands also became subject to the Nuremburg laws. Once again, Heinz and Eva had to stop attending the public school. Heinz was enrolled in a Jewish school, while Eva shared a private tutor with several other children. Erich had to close his business, but opened a small workshop making snakeskin handbags. By January 1941, all Jews had to register with the authorities. That spring, thousands of Jews were sent to German-run forced labor camps. Eva's father began to make plans to go into hiding. The underground supplied the family with false papers, and Eva was given the false identity of a Christian named Jopie Ackerman.

    In the summer of 1942, German authorities began deporting Jews from the Netherlands, via the Westerbork transit camp. After Heinz and his neighborhood peers received a summons to report for a labor camp in Germany, on July 5, 1942, the family decided to go into hiding. Erich felt they would be safer if the family split up. For their first placement, Eva and her mother hid in the home of a woman who had two young sons. When the danger became too great, they moved into the home of Mrs. Klompe, a teacher. Resistance members built a false tile wall behind the toilet for an extra hiding space. Two hours after it was finished, German police raided the apartment, but did not find Eva and her mother.

    Eva and Fritzi both had blond hair and could pass as non-Jewish, so they were able to leave the apartment occasionally to visit Erich and Heinz. Heinz looked stereotypically Jewish, so the men did not dare to leave their hiding space and occupied themselves by painting, writing, and studying languages. Hiding them was riskier, because the neighbors of their rescuer were Dutch Nazis. After a while, their rescuers grew tired of hiding them, fed them less, and demanded more money. The Germans increased efforts to find hidden Jews, and all four family members were moved to new hiding places.

    Eva and Fritzi moved in with the Reitsma family, who prepared a special birthday breakfast for Eva’s 15th birthday on May 11, 1944. Just as they were finishing, the Gestapo burst into the home. They had been turned in by a Dutch nurse who had helped Erich and Heinz get to their new hiding place. Eva and Fritzi were taken to a detention center, as were Erich, Heinz, and the Reitsmas. All four members of the Geiringer family were beaten or tortured during their interrogation. Erich offered the Gestapo jewelry in exchange for freeing the Reitsmas. The Reitsmas were released, but the Geiringers were sent to Westerbork transit camp. After a few days, they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau killing center in German-occupied Poland, arriving on May 17.

    The men and women were separated on the train platform after they arrived. During the processing, Eva was tattooed with the number A5272, and had her head shaved. They were forced into showers, given uniforms, and sent to barracks where ten people had to sleep to a bunk. After three weeks in new-arrival quarantine, Eva and Fritzi were assigned to a work detail in the Kanada barrack, sorting clothes and personal possessions. At one point, Eva and Fritzi went to the hospital block and met a nurse, Minni, who happened to be Fritzi’s cousin. Minni’s position enabled her to give them extra food and medicine. Eva’s father, Erich, tracked her down, and they were able to meet twice at a camp fence. Talking through the fence, Erich told her that he was working in a timber factory and Heinz was assigned to the vegetable gardens.

    Eva and Fritzi worked in the warehouse from May to July 1944. Afterwards, they were reassigned to hard physical labor, carrying heavy stones. In September, Fritzi was selected for the gas chambers. Eva was given a new labor assignment to braid ropes. After two months, Eva met a group of Dutch Jews who told her that Minni persuaded Dr. Mengele to spare Eva’s mother. Eva was admitted to the hospital block where her mother was hiding, and Minni got her transferred so she could stay.

    In January 1945, Birkenau was evacuated in advance of the Soviet arrival. Those able to walk, including Minni, were sent on a forced march. After the SS fled, Eva raided the storerooms for food, clothing, and blankets. A few days later, Soviet soldiers arrived. Eva and a friend and walked to the main camp where they reunited with male survivors. Eva saw her former neighbor, Otto Frank (1889-1980), who informed her that Erich and Heinz had been on the forced march. Eva fetched her mother from Birkenau, and they settled into the men’s camp.

    In February, the Soviet soldiers transported the survivors to Katowice, Poland, then to Cernauti, Romania (Chernivtsi, Ukraine) and finally to Odessa, Ukraine, where they stayed until the war ended in May. Eva and Fritzi then made their way back to Amsterdam. They received a letter from the Red Cross telling them that Heinz had died at Mauthausen in April 1945, and that Erich died on May 4, three days before the war ended. Fritzi began working in an office, while Eva returned to school and began working part-time in a photography and printing studio. Eva and Fritzi became close with Otto Frank, who had also returned to their neighborhood in Amsterdam. In 1951, he arranged for Eva to study photography in England for a year. While there, she met and began dating an Israeli economic student, Zvi Schloss. Eva married Zvi in 1952, and the following year, her mother married Otto Frank and relocated to Basel, Switzerland. Eva and Zvi settled in London, and they had three daughters.

    Physical Details

    Household Utensils
    Object Type
    Mustard pots (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Pewter pot with a square base, short stem, and hinged, bell-shaped lid. The top of the lid has an oblong, pointed finial that is bent slightly backwards. Circling the finial is an embossed band of decorative acanthus leaves. On the right side of the lid is a small, rectangular cutout. The back of the lid has a hinge with a seashell-shaped thumbpiece connecting it to a curved, double-scroll handle with a ridge down the center. The pot has a goblet-shaped bowl with a decorative band of embossed upwards-facing acanthus leaves at the bottom. The bowl sits atop a conical stem that flares outward to a square base. On the underside, the base and stem are hollow, and there is a manufacturing mark at the center, featuring a winged figure, holding a pair of scales in one hand and a palm in the other. Both the interior and exterior of the vessel are tarnished and the surface is scratched on the interior.
    overall: Height: 5.250 inches (13.335 cm) | Width: 3.875 inches (9.843 cm) | Depth: 3.000 inches (7.62 cm)
    overall : pewter

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The mustard pot was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2018 by Ryan M. Cooper, a friend of Otto Frank.
    Record last modified:
    2022-09-12 10:53:08
    This page:

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