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Buddy Elias, Anne Frank's last living relative passes away at age 89

Buddy Elias, lifelong protector of his cousin's legacy, has died in Switzerland. He was an actor as well as president of the Anne Frank Fonds charity.

Bernhard "Buddy" Elias, the last living relative of diarist Anne Frank, died at the age of 89 in Basel, Switzerland, the Anne Frank Fonds foundation announced on Tuesday. The charity praised Elias for his relentless advocacy in "civil society, dialogue, and education against discrimination."

Elias was born in Frankfurt in 1925 and spent the first years of his life with his cousins Anne and Margot Frank before his family emigrated to Switzerland in 1931. Anne frequently mentions him in her diary, including a fond memory of the two of them ice-skating together.

He said in an interview in 2009 the last time he heard from her was a postcard from 1942, which read "I can't send any postcards from vacation anymore!"

In 2012, he told German magazine Der Spiegel that his favorite line from her diary was: "The time will come when we will be people again and not just Jews."

Elias spent part of his career as a theater and film actor. He became known to German audiences through appearances in popular television shows like crime series "Tatort." He also devoted much of his life to preserving the memory of his cousin and had a leading role at the charity named in her honor.

He was in charge of the publication of Anne Frank's diary after the death of her father Otto, as well as its adaptation into a series of plays and films. He also spent years giving lectures and interviews about the Holocaust and about his cousin. Elias was also active in international initiatives and projects dedicated to stamping out racism and anti-Semitism.

"This engagement is the least I can do for Anne," he once said.

es/bk (dpa, KNA)

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