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Anne Frank: A History for Today

 

How often do you cry in a museum? If you can visit a museum with the Anne Frank: A History for Today exhibit you will. I visited the MOSH (Museum of Science and History) in Jacksonville to see the exhibit about that beautiful, young, Jewish girl whose life was brutally ended by Hitler’s Nazi “Final Solution.”  Naturally, I had read the book and seen the film long ago. I have since seen many stories related to her and the Holocaust.  It was mandatory reading in the late 50’s and still widely used in schools today.

 

Anne Frank at MOSH Exhibit "Anne Frank: A History for Today

The exhibit should be begun with a viewing of the video about Anne Frank which runs continually in the small theater space within the exhibit. It is one of the most moving documentaries I have ever seen. There are many actual photographs of Anne and her family as she is growing up first in Germany and then in the Netherlands where her father Otto takes his family in the hopes of being safe from what he see coming.   It shows the time spent in hiding with four other Jewish people on the top floors of Otto’s factory and through the family’s betrayal.  It then tells how the diary is accidently left behind when the families are dragged off, herded into cattle cars, and separated at the concentration camps. Anne and her older sister, Margot, died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen. The film shows where each of the others died. Only Otto survived. When he learned Miep Gies, one of the people who had been hiding the Franks, had saved the diary and he was able to read it and learned that Anne wanted to be a writer, he published the diary in her honor. The exhibit has a replica of the actual diary on display.

 

The actual exhibit is a very complete chronology beginning before Anne’s birth with family history. Youe see Anne’s grandmother, Anne Frank-Stern was a nurse in a military hospital during WWI. You learn that both Anne’s father, Otto, and her uncle were in the German army during WWI. Her family were strong loyal Germans. Then it leads you through Hitler’s rise to power.

While in prison Hitler made no secret of his hatred for the Jews when he wrote “Mein Kampf.” Still because of his appeal to the working man and high unemployment and poor economy in Germany, he was able to gain control of Germany. In his campaign, he promised to bring jobs and strengthen Germany again. Technically, Paul von Hindenburg won the election by a large majority public vote but the Nazi party won the majority positions in the Reistage leaving Hindenburg no choice but to appoint the Nazi party head, Adolph Hitler, as his chancellor. When Hindenburg died in 1934, Hitler ascended to the presidency and then abolished the office of President and appointed himself Führer und Reichskanzler. He appointed his friends to the highest offices and slowly the persecution of Jews played out with those in the media who tried to publicize it being discredited. Hatred spread. First there was a yellow star to make Jews recognizable then a registry of all Jews. That made the later round up and extermination easier.

It’s not by accident that the exhibit is named Anne Frank: A History for Today. The current climate formats a similar hatred: this time of Muslims instead of Jews. The lesson I left the exhibit with was beware of hatred of any race or religion. WWIII could lurk in the background when hatred reigns supreme.

MOSH is an excellent museum which I have written about in the past but to me this exhibit is one of its finest moments. Sharif Frink, MOSH Director of communications, told me “There were very few who objected to the exhibit. I would say response was about 99% positive but there was one Holocaust denier, a man in his 80s, who told me this exhibit ‘made me a believer.’”

 

Mr. Frink said there were having lots of schools visiting.  I saw many of the messages posted in the place where anyone could write their feelings about the exhibit. One that seemed to be a childish handwriting said “I am sad because I am a Jew….” Many gave a view of hope as “Anne Frank did not die in vain…”

I so hope that is true. If this exhibit changes even one mind, awakens one soul, to the value of all humans regardless of race or religion, alerts people to the danger of grouping all people of one nationality as a single entity to be hatred and feared, wherever it is shown then perhaps Anne Frank did not die in vain.  

 

Ongoing schedule: (there may be other places it will be shown but this is what I found)

Elkhart, IN                     Elkhart Central High School                        January – March 2017

Maitland, FL                  Holocaust Memorial Central of FL           January – March 2017

Farmington Hills, MI      Holocaust Memorial Center                       January – June 2017

Jacksonville, FL              Museum of Science and History             January – February 2017

Orange City, IA              Northwestern College                                January – March 2017

Cincinnati, OH               Center for Holocaust & Humanity Education   February – June 2017

Thomaston, CT              Landmark Community Theatre                   March – April 2017

Lincroft, NJ                    Center for Holocaust Education                 March – June 2017

Sarasota, FL                   Selby Public Library                                April – May 2017