Why should we remember Anne Frank
The story in the here and now
The Anne Frank House sees it as its task to show what happened during the time of National Socialism, the Second World War and the persecution of the Jews. It aims to provide insights into how it happened and what that means for the present.
Otto Frank was aware of how important this is - for him it was about not only understanding the past, but also drawing lessons from it. Remembering history, reflecting on history and reacting to history are the three steps that have determined the work of the Anne Frank House to this day.
A house that is rooted in the past and looks to the future
Even before the Anne Frank House was founded in 1957, Otto Frank wanted the house in which he and his family had been hiding to be preserved and opened to visitors. As a reminder from the past, but directed towards the future.
In 1976 Otto Frank wrote in a letter to the then director of the Anne Frank House that he not only wanted to encourage visitors to reflect on the suffering of the Holocaust, but also to encourage them to take an active stand against prejudice and discrimination in their own environment . These efforts are still part of the model of the Anne Frank House to this day.
‘You can't make amends for what happened. But we have to learn from the past. '
To be thought-provoking
The Anne Frank House and the diary not only remind us of Anne Frank and the history of her time, they also encourage us to reflect on the present day, to become aware of many things and to recognize their meanings.
One of the most important lessons from the history of the Nazi era, the Second World War and the Holocaust is perhaps the realization that it was all human work: the exclusion, the persecution and deportation and finally the murder of six million Jews. The emptiness of the house reflects that.
On a tour of the house, visitors experience the reflection of what is no longer, what was deliberately destroyed by the Nazis. And they learn that it was about "people like you" who were victims, perpetrators, helpers or bystanders. In the context of the historical context, the Anne Frank House makes it clear where anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination in extreme form can still lead today.
Explain the historical context
The challenge for the Anne Frank House is to open the museum to visitors without detracting from the character of the house. Since many tourists come from countries outside of Europe and a large proportion of the visitors are under 25, it is important to go deeper into the historical context and background of Anne Frank's life story in the museum. The Anne Frank House wants to achieve this goal without sacrificing the experience and importance of the emptiness of the house.
Make patterns aware
In its educational activities, too, the Anne Frank House focuses on the connection between the present and the past, between behavior and the resulting consequences. Bullying in school is of course not the same as discrimination, and discrimination is different from persecution. But in all three cases, comparable patterns are active in our thinking and acting that lead to us discriminating against or excluding people or groups of people.
These patterns are part of what makes us human, we even need them sometimes to create order in the chaos of the reality that surrounds us. However, under certain circumstances, these patterns can also have dire consequences. We encourage young people to deal with this problem and to take a firm stance against anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination in their own environment.
Young people learn from young people
We want to encourage young people to take responsibility for the environment in which they live. In this context we ask ourselves the question: Who inspires and influences young people, who really gets through to them? In our experience, these are above all the young people themselves.
Using the peer education approach, we therefore enable them to take an active role in the implementation of our educational activities, e.g. as a companion for their peers in Anne Frank exhibitions and by participating in youth conferences and seminars. We do not give ready-made answers, but show possibilities.
Empathy instead of identification
This important role for young people is not new; Otto Frank, in his role as an educator, also encouraged young people to ask themselves questions, and the impetus for this was and still is the identification with Anne Frank that is felt around the world.
Although the life of fifteen-year-olds today is very different from the life of Anne Frank in 1944, they share the dream of equal rights for all people, of an open and free society, of the possibility of being themselves. It is these ideals that connect Anne Frank, Martin Luther King, a teenager from the favela of Rio de Janeiro and a teenager from Amsterdam.
Different times, the same mission statement
Today the Anne Frank House reaches many more young people than Otto Frank could have imagined at the time. More visitors than ever come to the museum. In addition, we reach millions more people every year through our international activities and via the Internet. But despite this tremendous expansion, our mission statement remains essentially unchanged.
On the one hand, it is about preserving the place that Anne Frank used as a hiding place in World War II and where she wrote her diary and opening it to visitors, and on the other hand, developing educational programs and materials that inspire young people around the world connect your world of experience.
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