The Legacy of Anne Frank

The Legacy of Anne Frank

by Gillian Walnes Perry


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From her secret hiding place in wartime Amsterdam, the Jewish teenager Anne Frank wrote heart-wrenchingly about the terrors of a captivity that would ultimately end with her death at the hands of the Nazis. In her world-famous diaries, she described with remarkable honesty her transition from childhood to a deep thinking, opinionated and passionate teenager. The life she longed to live, during which she would help to create a more caring world, was tragically not to be. In August 1944, she and her family were captured and deported to Auschwitz.

Two years after her death from starvation and disease in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, her diary was published. It quickly became an international sensation, going on to influence hearts and minds for over seventy years.

Although many books and literary analyses have been written about Anne Frank’s life and diary, none have explored the surprising influence she has had on young people in countries all over the world, helping to shape their moral framework and giving them critical life skills. This is due in part to the merits of a travelling exhibition created by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam in 1985 which has so far been seen by over 9 million people. The Anne Frank exhibition, along with its innovative educational and cultural activities, has circumnavigated the globe many times.

In this fascinating study, Gillian Walnes Perry explores the various legacies of Anne Frank's influence. She looks at the complex life of Anne Frank’s father and the motivations that powered his educational philosophy. She shares new insights into the real Anne Frank, personally gifted by those who actually knew her. Global icons such as Nelson Mandela and Audrey Hepburn relate the influence that Anne Frank had on shaping their own lives.

This book presents - all in one place and for the very first time - the inspirational stories of a diverse variety of people from all over the world, brought together by the words of one particularly articulate and inspiring teenage victim of the Holocaust.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781526731043
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 08/17/2018
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,031,823
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Gillian Walnes Perry co-founded the Anne Frank Trust UK in 1990, along with family and friends of Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank. In 2010, she was awarded an MBE for her work in education. She has spent time with many people who knew Anne Frank personally, and educators from all over the world who have tirelessly been perpetuating the powerful messages of Anne's life and writing. After 26 years of building the Anne Frank Trust, she retired as the charity’s Executive Director in 2016. She now lectures and writes about the life and legacy of Anne Frank, as well as a range of popular social history topics.

Read an Excerpt


Anne Frank

But first, who exactly was Anne Frank? It is a name well-known around the world, and across seven decades, because of her diary, written over the course of twenty-six months. From being drawn into its pages we get to intimately know a young girl, who is describing how it felt to have her very existence continually threatened by the irrational persecution of adults.

Over the past seventy years since her diary was first published as a book, Anne Frank's words have touched the hearts and minds of millions. She has inspired an unending stream of biographies, artistic interpretations of her story, academic analyses of her literary prowess, children's poetry and even pubescent obsessions. Anne's diary chronicled a fun-loving and intelligent girl's fears and frustrations in having to hide to save her own life. The complex personality leaping from its pages resonates with children and adults, male and female, with all who are in the process of going through, or have already been through, a time of emotional upheaval and physical changes to both mind and body.

But to millions of people around the world, Anne is even more familiar to them by what she looked like. This is thanks to an unusually large collection of black-and-white photographs taken by her father, Otto Frank, who was the proud owner of a classic 35mm Leica camera. He snapped his daughters Margot Betti and Annelies Marie spontaneously or in carefully posed situations. His twin passions became his beautiful little dark-eyed girls and his hobby of photography. He liked to experiment visually, and some of his photos (which have been referred to as the 'shadow pictures') even contain his own elongated and ghostly shadow in the foreground.

Otto Frank's family photographs have formed the basis of the Anne Frank travelling exhibitions, as well as many of the displays in the Anne Frank House and other Holocaust museums around the world, and have played a large part in visitors' understanding of the lives of the two girls that were lost.

I have come to know many of those images as intimately as if they were of my own children, through the twenty-eight years I worked closely with the Anne Frank travelling exhibition. The photos show Anne and her sister enjoying what we would describe as normal childhood activities – playing with friends, attending birthday parties, going on shopping trips in town with their mother, visiting the seaside or even the Swiss mountains.

I have looked on as adults and children have gazed at Anne Frank and her family, who in turn stared back at them from the Anne Frank exhibition panels. I have seen parents drawing their children closer to them in a protective gesture of understanding of the dreadful position Anne's parents, Otto and Edith Frank, found themselves in; older adults recollecting their own wartime experiences or those told to them by their parents; teenagers and children identifying with Anne and her friends enjoying themselves in situations surprisingly familiar to them.

Thus I will attempt to describe Anne's first thirteen years through some of the most memorable and affecting black-and-white photographs, most of them carefully directed by Otto.

Annelies Marie Frank was born in Frankfurt-am-Main in Germany on 12 June 1929 to a German-Jewish couple, Otto and Edith Frank. The family lived on a prominent street in the city centre called the Marbachweg. They had married in 1925 and their first daughter Margot Betti had been born on 16 February 1926, during the time that Germany was already suffering immense economic hardship after its defeat in the First World War. Anne arrived in the world just four months before the Wall Street Crash was to reverberate throughout the international community.

We first get to meet baby Annelies, whose name was soon shortened to Anne, one month later in a photo. She is being held on the lap of a rather prim-looking and clinically-dressed middle-aged woman called Mrs Dassing, who was brought in as a nanny to help Edith Frank in the aftermath of her confinement. Three-year-old Margot Frank, now assuming the role of big sister, is standing alongside Mrs Dassing, staring down towards her own feet, dressed in a summery light-coloured vest and shorts, and with her eyes almost closed. Little Margot is clutching something tightly, but we cannot make out what it is, whether a doll or a comfort blanket, as she has shaken it just as Mr Frank clicked the shutter and thus it is blurred. The baby Anne, however, swaddled tightly in a knitted blanket and with dark hair already visible, has her eyes wide open, as if she has been attracted by something on the ceiling. It is as though Anne's curiosity about the world and its workings have already been fired. A birdcage sits on the table behind baby Anne, although we cannot identify a bird, and a large plant has been placed on the windowsill behind the table. Looking rather like an incongruous hair bow attached to Mrs Dassing's head, there protrudes from behind her a pinwheel toy, a simple wind-driven mobile for children that is as popular now as it was then.

The baby was then handed to her doting mother for a photo. As Edith cradles her baby girl against her shoulder, Anne's eyes are still open, this time firmly fixed on her big sister Margot. Many of the photos taken by Otto during this period focus on his firstborn Margot, already growing into a very attractive child. One of the next photos of Anne is perhaps one of the most poignant. It is 1932 and she is not yet three years old. The National Socialists, the Nazi Party, are gaining in popular appeal, offering jobs and free holidays to the German people. Anne is sleeping peacefully and soundly in her bed. There she lies in her innocence, her dark hair now thick and luxuriant, her eyebrows defined and her lips full and dark. This girl needs neither her thumb nor a comforter while she sleeps, she is content with her world and unaware of the political catastrophe unfolding outside the walls of her home.

Family come to visit the Franks, including paternal grandmother Alice Frank and cousins Stephan and Bernd Elias from Basel in Switzerland and maternal 'Grannie' Rosa Hollander from the city of Aachen on the German border with Belgium. As well as a loving family, Margot and Anne also have local children to play with. These happy times are all recorded by Otto's camera.

The normality and security of the Frank girls' early childhood in Frankfurt was to change dramatically from January 1933, when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power. Their vicious anti-Semitism was about to be given free rein. Under Hitler's leadership, the state became known as the Third Reich, 'Reich' meaning the realm of an empire. The First Reich had been the time of the medieval Holy Roman Empire, which lasted from Charlemagne in 800 until 1806. The Second Reich was the German Empire under the Kaisers Wilhelm I and II, lasting from Germany's unification in 1871 until Kaiser Wilhelm II's abdication in 1918 after defeat in the First World War.

By the end of March 1933, the victorious Nazi Party had brought in the Enabling Act, giving the German Cabinet – in effect Chancellor Adolf Hitler – the power to enact laws without the involvement of the Reichstag, the German parliament. This act, along with the Reichstag Fire Decree after the arson attack on the Reichstag building, abolished most civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government. Just two months after his election by the German people, Hitler's government had been transformed into a legal dictatorship.

With the powers they had bestowed upon themselves, the Nazi government set about suppressing all political opposition. They soon started imposing sanctions and limitations on the Jewish community to make it hard for them to lead a normal life. Within a period of less than a year, more and more draconian measures were targeted against the Jews of Germany.

On 10 March 1933, the Frank family paid a visit to the bustling central Hauptwache plaza, on what could have been a trip for shopping or perhaps to a café. Otto's camera came along too, as he recorded the outing. It is obviously still wintry as his wife and daughters are wearing coats and hats. Edith smiles proudly towards the camera, Margot is holding her mother's arm and looking a little wistful. She is in a coat, beret and shiny Mary Jane shoes of a similar style to her mother's. Anne is in a white furry jacket, white gloves and leggings extending over her shoes, and with her head slightly bowed, scowling at the camera. This may have been a last family outing into the city as a normal life for Jews was becoming more difficult.

Otto Frank, whose family had emerged from the Frankfurt ghetto and had progressed to own their own bank by the late nineteenth century, and Edith, whose father had been a wealthy and successful businessman in Aachen, were about to make the painful decision to leave everything they had known and emigrate to the Netherlands. Like many fleeing Jews, they considered the Netherlands to be a safe haven, the country having remained neutral throughout the First World War.

Later that year, Otto left his homeland and went on ahead of his family to look for a business in Amsterdam. Thanks to an introduction by his brother-in-law Erich Elias, who worked for a company called Opekta in Switzerland, Otto was able to set up a new branch of Opekta in Amsterdam. Opekta manufactured and sold pectin, a setting agent for jam, which many people in those days made themselves at home. Later, Otto opened another company called Pectacon, which dealt in spices that were popular for sausage-making. He opened a warehouse on a street called the Prinsengracht, with a suite of offices upstairs. Edith, and then Margot (brought by her uncles), followed him to Amsterdam a few months later. Anne arrived in February 1934, brought by her maternal grandmother and playfully announced as a 'present' for Margot's eighth birthday.

In Amsterdam the family lived on the Merwedeplein, a new development in the south of the city where many other German-Jewish refugees from Nazism were settling. The apartment blocks had been built around a central triangular-shaped green where the residents' children would gather after school to play in safety. Both Margot and Anne soon made friends, their play captured in many of Otto's photos over the following years. Anne is often shown with her best friend Susanne 'Sanne' Ledermann, holding skipping ropes or dolls, Anne looking immaculately turned-out and the tomboyish Sanne with her socks invariably rumpled round her ankles, or with her taller fair-haired friend Hannah 'Hanneli' Goslar, who later became known as 'Lies' in Anne's diary.

In 1935 Anne had started to attend the local kindergarten. It was then called the Sixth Public Montessori School, but has now been renamed the Anne Frank School. A class photograph shows Anne's teacher Miss Baldal and her twenty-six pupils. The photo demonstrates the Montessori approach to learning that encourages children's independence and freedom, while still retaining a sense of order. Otto and Edith Frank, like many other Jewish refugee parents in Amsterdam, had chosen the Montessori school as they believed in a modern and progressive education. Miss Baldal's class are not seated in formal rows of desks, but at small tables around the room, each containing a game or activity. Some of the children are kneeling by their wooden games on the floor. Towards the back of the room, five-year-old Anne sits on her wooden chair in a white dress, short dark socks and white shoes, her small feet dangling as they do not quite reach the floor. Five years later Anne would be forced to leave the Montessori school, but not because of any misdemeanour.

In September 1935, Otto took his younger daughter Anne to visit their family in Switzerland. Together they journeyed to the idyllic lakeside resort of Sils Maria. He photographed six-year-old Anne in a dark sun dress sitting in the long scrub-like grass, leaning a little forward towards the camera, her body bathed in sunshine and radiating a smile to match the carefree day. Clearly, the Frank family were enjoying the freedom afforded by their new lives in the Netherlands, reassuringly far enough away from the growing anti-Semitism of their former German homeland.

There were many photos taken of Anne and Margot on the beach. Zandvoort has long been a popular seaside destination for Amsterdam residents as it is only 24km from the city. The Frank girls are shown in 1938 on a warm July day, but it is clearly a windy one too, as deckchair canvases are seen to be billowing fiercely outwards from their frames. The girls are wearing identical dark floral halter-neck tops over tartan check shorts, the ensemble connected by a tasselled rope belt. They would still look extremely stylish if they hit the beach today in these outfits. In one of their father's photos they are facing the camera and staring into it. Then in an artistic flourish, they are also shown from the back, standing together at the edge of the sea looking out towards the horizon. This strikes a particular chord with all who see this image with the hindsight of history. It seems almost as though the two girls were contemplating their future lives and what they would hold. The poignancy of this is almost unbearable.

In June 1939, Anne celebrated her tenth birthday. She invited eight girl friends to join the celebration and there they are pictured in the street in their best party dresses. The nine girls stand in a line closely packed together with their arms around each other. To give balance to the line-up, Otto has directed the tallest girl, Juultje, to stand in the middle. Some of the girls, such as Hannah, have bows in their hair, and Susanne Ledermann's socks are unusually tidy. Anne is positioned second from the left, wearing an Empire-line floral dress adorned with white buttons and collar. She is smiling as if in pride at her bevy of friends, most of whom were non-Jewish classmates from the Montessori school. On that happy sunny afternoon, who could have suspected that the parents of the cute little blonde girl on Anne's right were to become active and enthusiastic members of the Dutch Nazi Party the following year?

In August 1940, Margot and Anne were photographed by Otto on the Merwedeplein apartment building roof. By now, the older girl Margot is clearly pubescent, the top of her fashionable two-piece bathing suit framing a developing bust. She has lost some of the striking beauty of her childhood, her large dark eyes are now obscured by regulation spectacles, and her hair is scraped severely back from her forehead. In a separate photo, Anne is slouched into a deck chair with her lower legs almost protruding out from the front of the photo. Yet again Anne is scowling at the camera, her head tilted down, her eyes surrounded by dark shadows, appearing almost like those of a painted clown. Half of the right side of her body is off the edge of the photo – we are not sure if this is by Otto's artistic design or by accident, as photographic errors could only be discovered once the roll of film had been developed and printed.

Perhaps the demeanour of the girls on this sunny rooftop terrace reflected the new status quo in their adopted country. Three months earlier, and after the Frank family had spent seven years in the perceived safety of Amsterdam, the most feared, but still unexpected, calamity had happened. On 10 May 1940, Germany had invaded the Netherlands after five days of brutal air bombardment of the port city of Rotterdam. The Dutch Queen Wilhelmina and her family, the Dutch Prime Minister and key members of his government all fled to London. After a few months of relative calm, by October 1940 the German occupiers were starting to introduce measures targeted against the country's Jews. All Jews in the Netherlands were required to be registered and by May 1942, they were forced to attach a yellow cotton Star of David to their outer upper garments to publicly identify their religion. Now the word on it in bold black letters was not the German 'Jude', but 'Jood', the Dutch for Jew.

Two years on, in June 1942, Anne was to describe the process of the implementation of the measures in her newly-received diary. She shows how every aspect of her own life was affected:

After May 1940 the good times were few and far between: first there was the war, then the capitulation and then the arrival of the Germans, which is when the trouble started for the Jews. Our freedom was severely restricted by a series of anti-Jewish decrees: Jews were required to wear a yellow star; Jews were required to turn in their bicycles; Jews were forbidden to use trams; Jews were forbidden to ride in cars, even their own; Jews were required to do their shopping between 3.00 and 5.00 p.m.; Jews were required to frequent only Jewish owned barbershops and beauty salons; Jews were forbidden to be out on the streets between 8.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m.; Jews were forbidden to go to theatres, cinemas or any other forms of entertainment; Jews were forbidden to use swimming pools, tennis courts, hockey fields or any other athletic fields; Jews were forbidden to go rowing; Jews were forbidden to take part in any athletic activity in public; Jews were forbidden to sit in their gardens or those of their friends after 8.00 p.m; Jews were forbidden to visit Christians in their homes; Jews were required to attend Jewish schools, etc. You couldn't do this and you couldn't do that, but life went on.


Excerpted from "The Legacy of Anne Frank"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Gillian Walnes Perry.
Excerpted by permission of Pen and Sword Books Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

List of Photographs viii

Prologue: Anne Frank is Here in the World x

Chapter 1 Anne Frank 1

Chapter 2 Otto Frank 19

Chapter 3 'Anne Frank in the World' is Launched 31

Chapter 4 The Anne Frank Trust is Born 36

Chapter 5 Anne and Eva Schloss - the Girl who Became her Stepsister 45

Chapter 6 Anne Frank's Role in the Transition from Communism 54

Chapter 7 The Woman Who Gave a Personal Pledge to Otto Frank 73

Chapter 8 Anne Frank in Latin America 78

Chapter 9 Anne Frank and Audrey Hepburn 95

Chapter 10 On the Road with Anne Frank 99

Chapter 11 Anne Frank and the Children of Bosnia 110

Chapter 12 Anne Frank and Nelson Mandela 120

Chapter 13 Anne Frank and her Protector Miep Gies 128

Chapter 14 Anne Frank goes into British Prisons 137

Chapter 15 Anne Frank and Stephen Lawrence 145

Chapter 16 Anne Frank Helping to Make Peace in Ireland 151

Chapter 17 Anne Frank and her Secret Hero 155

Chapter 18 Anne Frank and Daniel Pearl 160

Chapter 19 The Anne Frank Declaration 163

Chapter 20 The Anne Frank Trust is Growing 173

Chapter 21 Who Betrayed the Frank Family? 188

Chapter 22 Anne Frank is Educating Millions 194

Chapter 23 Inspired by Holocaust Survivors 207

Chapter 24 Anne Frank and the Girl who was Kidnapped by Sardinian Bandits 219

Chapter 25 Anne Frank in the Far East 223

Chapter 26 Anne Frank was a Real Person 237

Chapter 27 Anne Frank in the Indian Subcontinent 247

Chapter 28 The Strange Circle of the House on Blaricummerweg 262

Chapter 29 Anne Frank and her Fear 269

Chapter 30 Anne Frank and the Future 272

References 281

Index 284

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