Character Analysis Mr. Kraler


After Mr. Van Daan's withdrawal from his firm, Mr. Kraler took over the management of dealings between Travis, Inc. and the affiliated firm of Kohlen and Co. He was an Austrian by birth, fought in the Imperial Navy during World War I, and he moved to Holland afterward. He was a business associate of Mr. Frank, whom he met in Amsterdam in 1933. When Jews were no longer allowed to own business enterprises, Mr. Kraler took over those run by Mr. Frank and Mr. Van Daan. This alone involved a certain amount of risk, as under the Nazi regime even the fact that they had formerly been Jewish-owned made them liable to be confiscated.

Mr. Kraler helped the Franks to prepare the "Secret Annexe" as a hiding place. While the group was in hiding, he was instrumental in obtaining supplies, keeping them secret and providing moral and psychological support. He was in the downstairs office when the police came to take the Franks, the Van Daans, and Mr. Düssel away. They asked Mr. Kraler for the owner of the house, and he gave them the name and address of their landlord. They insisted that they wanted the person in charge there, and when he said that it was he, they ordered him to come with them as they searched the building.

The police were acting on information passed to them by an informer, possibly one of the workers in the warehouse, and they would not allow Mr. Kraler to put them off the trail as they approached the bookcase which hid the door leading to the "Secret Annexe." And so, Mr. Kraler was the first one to ascend the steps, a pistol held against his back; he entered the Franks' room, where Mrs. Frank was standing at the table. He said, "The Gestapo is here," and Mr. Frank did not start in fright or say anything. The police gave the group in hiding enough time to collect a few possessions, then they, together with Kraler and Koophuis, were taken to Gestapo headquarters for questioning.

Because the year was 1944, and not 1943 or 1942, the Gestapo was more careful in its treatment of non-Jewish prisoners. It was evident by then that the Nazis would lose the war, and so, instead of treating them strictly and sending them to one of the death camps, they were treated more leniently. Mr. Kraler, like Mr. Koophuis, did not attempt to defend himself; he remained silent, and the officials obviously did not think it worthwhile to force them to talk.

Mr. Kraler was sent to a camp near Amersfort in Holland, and from there to a forced-labor camp in Zwolle. In March 1945, the inmates of the Zwolle camp were supposed to be removed to Germany. Four hundred men were marched under guard along the highway from Arnhem to Zevenaar. During the march, the column was strafed by planes, and in the confusion Kraler and another man managed to escape. They crawled off into the underbrush, and when the firing stopped, they slipped into a house. After an hour, they ventured out again and hid with a farmer for two days. Traveling by night over back roads, Kraler made his way to Hilversum, where his relatives lived. After the war, he moved to Canada.

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