Anne Frank's stepsister?
January 29, 2016 10:36 AM   Subscribe

An article came up in my social media feed talking about Anne Frank's stepsister. Is there a journalistic reason for this?

Apparently, this woman grew up as a friend of the Frank family, and her mother married Frank's father, Otto, after the war. But they were never stepsisters while Anne Frank was alive. So I guess my question is if this article (and ones like it) are worded correctly, or if they are just worded this way to make people click on it when they recognize Anne's name.
posted by roomthreeseventeen to Writing & Language (13 answers total)
Best answer: Clickbait and also lending authority to her opinions about whether something is or isn't like the Nazis (I saw the same article you did, and my take was that not nearly as many people would care if the title was "Random lady thinks this thing")
posted by rmless at 10:42 AM on January 29, 2016

Best answer: It strikes me that the journalistic reason for the article coming up would be the reference to Donald Trump. I think the idea behind the article's "hook" isn't so much that "hey, this is Anne Frank's stepsister kinda sorta", it looks like the hook is "this is Anne Frank's stepsister and she says that Trump's acting like Hitler - and remember, she's Anne Frank's stepsister, so she'd kinda know what she's talking about, amirite?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on January 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

Basically the mention of "Anne Frank's stepsister" is maindly to provide another excuse for the media to do a piece about how Trump is a dickweed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:44 AM on January 29, 2016

it seems that she's active in campaigning to defend the memory (not sure how to phrase that) of the holocaust (wikipedia). a google search turns up a mention in the papers every few years. i guess either she or an adviser saw a chance to get some eyeballs.
posted by andrewcooke at 11:14 AM on January 29, 2016

It's probably intended to distinguish her opinion from run of the mill Godwinning.

"Anne Frank's stepsister" implies that she is aware of the enormity of comparing someone to Hitler and probably isn't saying it casually.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:36 AM on January 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

To me, the term defines the family tree relationship (related by parental marriage), not the interpersonal relationship (lived together as sisters), so I don't really understand what other term would be better to use. Something can be sort of clickbaity but also be factually accurate. Sometimes doctors really DO hate him.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:43 AM on January 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

i guess either she or an adviser saw a chance to get some eyeballs.

It seems a little cynical to think Eva Schloss is trying to capitalize on Anne Frank's name. There's an imperative with Holocaust survivors and their families to make sure nothing like the Holocaust ever happens again. Institutions such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum have a goal to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

I looked at the Newsweek article in question, and it was dated Jan. 27th - that's International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The intro clearly states Eva Schloss is "co-founder of the Anne Frank Trust UK and the author of several books about her experiences during the Holocaust."
posted by mountainpeak at 11:49 AM on January 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, yeah, I was not implying that Schloss herself was up to anything nefarious, at all. I was just wondering about the language of the article.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:51 AM on January 29, 2016

of course she's trying to capitalize on the name. she has a cause she cares about and it's a tool she can use. my comment wasn't meant to imply that she is wrong, or to advocate holocaust denial. i'm just assuming she's an intelligent person that knows how the world works and wants to make a difference.
posted by andrewcooke at 11:54 AM on January 29, 2016

Best answer: Eva Schloss self-identifies as Anne's stepsister. One of Eva's memoirs is titled Eva's Story: A Survivor's Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank. There could be many reasons for Eva's choice of words beyond the fact Anne Frank's name is better known: traumatic bonding, wanting to downplay her own ego in order to keep memories of Anne alive, survivor's guilt, etc. In any case, "posthumous stepsister " might have been better for Newsweek to use - at least, more accurate.
posted by mountainpeak at 12:40 PM on January 29, 2016

Best answer: I know this is a little late I wanted to weigh in. I think it's a legitimate term to use. I imagine those children had a real place in Otto's life even after they were gone.
I had a friend who's mom lost a toddler daughter before my friend was born. Even I know the child's name because she was still so present in the house 20 years after her death.
posted by ReluctantViking at 3:42 PM on January 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Totally agree with ReluctantViking. Otto was her stepfather, and therefore his daughters, even though they had passed, were her stepsisters. Especially as Otto and she have both dedicated their lives to educating people about the Holocaust. She is also a camp survivor herself, who lost her father and brother, so that in itself qualifies her to make comparisons between the world today and Nazi Europe.
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 4:32 PM on January 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have always thought of step-relatives as defining a legal relationship rather than an emotional one. I don't think both people have to be alive at the time the relationship begins. I don't see that much difference between this situation and one where a parent remarries after a child has left home and maybe never or rarely meets the new partner. They are still their "stepmother" or "stepfather" legally, even if there is no emotional relationship.

In this case there is no debating that Schloss is Otto's stepdaughter. And there's no debating that Anne Frank was his daughter. The connection between a daughter and a stepdaughter is that of stepsister. It's just shorthand to avoid having to say "the stepdaughter of Anne Frank's father", which is clumsy and weird.
posted by lollusc at 4:42 PM on January 29, 2016

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