For over sixty-years Anne Frank has been imbedded into our popular culture through numerous, plays and films, but it is truly the diary that continues to capture the imagination of a new generation of young readers. Since its publication in the U.S. in 1952, the diary has become somewhat of a rite of passage in certain young adult circles, and not necessarily because of Anne’s connection to the historic tragedy of the Holocaust. For many readers Anne Frank is their first connection with someone of their own age who they can relate to as she struggles to navigate her feelings of becoming a teenager.
Today’s youth have various other ways beyond the diary to be introduced to the Holocaust and Anne Frank. One way is to visit the exhibition Anne Frank: A History for Today hosted by The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE), in Cincinnati till June 9. The exhibit, developed by the Anne Frank House and sponsored by the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, incorporates the life history of Anne and her family, juxtaposed against historic events that lead to the Rise of the Third Reich, the Holocaust and the aftermath of World War II. Weaving Anne’s story through the historic timeline reminds of us of who she was, and why we have her diary. In addition to Anne’s story CHHE has artifacts, and stories on display from local Cincinnati survivors, who had similar experiences to the Frank family.
The exhibit is a good way for parents and educators to introduce their children and students to Anne, to help them make the connection between Anne’s circumstances and how it relates to our world today. The diary exists beyond the Holocaust, mainly because of Anne’s talent, and the work’s relatability to young readers and their own experiences. But most importantly, it relays a message, of loss. We will never know who Anne would have become, because of her tragic death in Bergen Belsen.