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Holocaust center showcases life of Anne Frank

This photograph from the Anne Frank house shows the room where she slept. COURTESY/HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL CENTER

BY SHELBY TANKERSLEY
OU News Bureau

“How wonderful is it that people need not wait a single moment before starting to improve the world?”— Anne Frank

The diary kept by 13-year-old Anne Frank while she and her family hid in an annex in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944 has touched the lives of many and helps people understand what it was like to be Jewish during World War II.

The exhibit has photos of Anne Frank and her family throughout her childhood. Her father, Otto, an amateur photographer, took this photo of his daughter. COURTESY/HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL CENTER

Frank died four weeks before the 1945 liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, where she was prisoner. When her father returned to the annex after the war, he had his daughter’s diary published. It’s sold 30 million copies and has been translated into 67 languages.

The Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills has an exhibit on Frank’s life until June 4.

“The Anne Frank exhibit travels around the country, and the staff thought this would be a wonderful compliment to the Anne Frank sapling we have,” said Robin Axelrod, the center’s director of education.

The center is home to one of 11 saplings in the U.S. from the chestnut tree Frank talks about in her diary. At the end of a tour, visitors can look out a window to see the tree, much like Frank would have.

The sapling, paired with staff-owned artifacts allows the center to put its own touch on the exhibit. A first edition of the diary, postcards written by Frank and a model of the house her family hid in are on display, as well.

Participants walk through the history of the Holocaust while it’s paralleled with the Frank family’s life. While Adolf Hilter rose to power, Otto and Edith Frank got married. While people were starting to die, Anne was starting grade school.

Aside from the history lesson, the exhibit features many photos of the family. Otto Frank was an amateur photographer, so there is more documentation of his family than was normal at the time. The end of the exhibit has many photos of him, as he was the only survivor from his family and the others who hid with them.

The Holocaust Memorial Center owns one of the saplings from the tree Anne could see out of her annex window. It’s the last thing people see when they visit the museum. PHOTO/SHELBY TANKERSLEY

Jim Berk, a docent for the center and son of a Holocaust survivor, said Frank has been a true testament of human character to him.

“She was tough, she was resilient and she didn’t let her circumstances overcome her well-being,” he said. “My mom was the same way, and I’m sure there were many others like them during that time. When you’re faced with something, you can let yourself be overtaken or you can stand up for what you believe in.”

As a young Jewish girl, Axelrod found Frank especially relatable. So much so that she has based her career around studying her.

“When I first read the diary, I was 13 and I over-identified with her,” she said. “Most kids are afraid of things that aren’t real. But, being Jewish, my parents couldn’t tell me that the things I was afraid of would never actually happen because they had happened to Anne.

“They encouraged me to learn about her and be inspired by her instead of being afraid of her. They were right, the more I learn about her the more inspired I am. It’s difficult to think of what she would be like if she had lived. But because she didn’t, she’s inspired millions of people.”

 

 

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Posted by on Mar 21 2017. Filed under Featured article, Oakland County. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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