“When I write, I can shake off all my cares,” wrote Anne Frank on April 5, 1944. Frank’s cares were considerably more than any 14-year-old should ever have to bear: She was in hiding with her family in Holland, having been displaced 11 years before from her home in Germany, and well aware that Germany’s Nazi regime was systematically exterminating anyone who shared her religion.
But despite the Jewish teenager’s burden, Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl manages to be less an elegy than a celebration of life, a fact which, above all, has made it an international classic.
This month and the next, Frank’s life—and the world that made it and ultimately extinguished it—will be on view at the Biltmore Square Mall, part of an ambitious multimedia display brought here by the nonprofit Center for Diversity Education and sponsored by Kimmel and Associates, the WNC Jewish Federation, BI-LO and many other organizations and individuals.
Titled “Anne Frank: A History for Today,” the exhibit debuts Sept. 30 and runs until Nov. 9. It places Frank’s personal life against the roiling backdrop of the Second World War, showing the roots of the government-sanctioned hate that led to the Holocaust and the chilling expedience with which Hitler and his adherents rounded up and killed not only Jews but Roma gypsies, the disabled, homosexuals and Slavs.
Along with static displays with text in both English and Spanish, “A History for Today” is accompanied by a film series, speaker series, musical performances and personal testimonials, all pointing to the relevance of Frank’s story and the bigger lessons of the Holocaust for today’s world. With the impulse of mass murder still very much alive around the globe (one need only look to 1970s Cambodia, 1990s Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the current killings in the Darfur region of Sudan for examples), Frank’s poignant testimony grows only more valuable with the years. Her cares are our cares, the exhibit posits—and it’s time we paid attention to them.
For more information about the exhibit and associated programs, visit www.annefrank-wnc.org or call the Center for Diversity Education at 232-5024.