“I don’t need a photograph, I can see him oh so well,” wrote Anne Frank in a diary entry dated January 6, 1944 of “one true love” Peter Schiff. Six decades later, and thanks to a photo recently made public by an old school chum of Peter’s, we, at least, can have a peek at the boy with the “beautiful brown eyes” and “mischievous smile.”
Ernst Michaelis and Peter met while classmates in Berlin. Before fleeing the city in 1939, the 12-year-olds exchanged photographs. Ernst set out for England while Peter headed to Amsterdam, where he met Anne one year later. The boys never saw each other again; Peter died age 18 on May 31, 1945 in Auschwitz, just a few months after the liberation of the camp and Anne’s own death at age 16 of typhus, in Bergen-Belsen.
It was while re-reading Anne’s Diary that Ernst, at 81, realized there was no known photograph of Peter in existence. He dug out his dusty keepsake from a family collection and, in January, with children and grandchildren in tow, delivered it in person to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
“I can still see us walking hand in hand through our neighborhood, Peter in a white cotton suit and me in a short summer dress,” Anne wrote in 1944. At long last, so can we.
Another recent discovery of note, courtesy of the New England Historical Genealogical Society, Boston: the oldest known (1888) photograph of Helen Keller with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, also the first known photograph of Keller with one of her dolls. A staff member at the society discovered it among the contents of a newly donated photography collection. Read the AP story here: