‘Her story belonged to all of us’: Hundreds mark 90th birthday of Anne Frank
search

‘Her story belonged to all of us’: Hundreds mark 90th birthday of Anne Frank

UNESCO director general addresses gathering in Frankfurt birthplace of teenage Holocaust diarist

Anne Frank, whose diary chronicles her two-year stay at a secret annex in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam with her family and several other Jews during Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. (Wikimedia Commons)
Anne Frank, whose diary chronicles her two-year stay at a secret annex in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam with her family and several other Jews during Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. (Wikimedia Commons)

JTA — Several hundred people gathered at a church in Frankfurt, the city of Anne Frank’s birth, on the occasion of the teenage diarist’s 90th birthday.

The event, organized Wednesday at the iconic St. Paul’s Church by the municipality of the German city and the Basel-based Anne Frank Foundation, featured an address by philosopher Agnes Heller, a Hungarian-Jewish Holocaust survivor who was born one month before Frank.

After surviving the Nazi death machine, Heller was inspired as a young woman when she read Anne Frank’s “Diary of a Young Girl.” The book chronicles Anne’s two-year stay at a secret annex in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam with her family and several other Jews. The family was caught in 1944 and sent to death camps. Only Anne’s father, Otto, survived.

“She was like one of the relatives and friends I lost, kids killed by the Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross,” Heller said. “Her story belonged to all of us.”

Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of UNESCO, the United Nations agency for education and heritage, touched on an ongoing debate concerning Anne Frank’s legacy and whether it should be taught as a specifically Jewish story or a universal one.

The diary “is an intimate story of a teenager and that of the Shoah,” Azoulay, who is Jewish, said in a speech at the gathering using the Hebrew-language word for the Holocaust.

Separately, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry criticized German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for a statement on Anne Frank’s birthday that did not mention Jews. Her story, Maas said, is a “warning against discrimination, marginalization and persecution and as a symbol of humanity.”

“Anne Frank’s diary is NOT a warning about wishy washy pseudo universal values!” Emmanuel Nahshon tweeted. “Anne Frank’s legacy is a warning against the hatred and persecution of JEWS. The attempt to ‘universalize the lessons of the Shoah’ is nothing less than a dishonest rewriting of history.”

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments