Updated: Feb 19, 2020
“I'll make my voice heard, I'll go out into the world and work for mankind.” famous words written by Anne Frank in 1944, words that have inspired many brave, young people to follow. West End Women and Girls Centre, just outside of Newcastle’s city centre, was aptly home to the Anne Frank + You, Anne Frank + Us exhibition last October and offered contemplation and thought.
On her 13th birthday, Anne received her first diary and, for the next two years, captured her experience of the Holocaust. Her book has since become an integral piece of war literature.
The exhibition has two elements: the first is the touring section that makes its way around the UK visiting churches, liberties, and community buildings. The exact dimensions of the bedroom where Anne was hiding have been authentically recreated, with a facsimile version of her diary inside. On the outside of the four walls is a timeline of events for the Frank family.
Information is explained simply and clearly, with hard-hitting and insightful photographs to accompany the words. One example of this is the Night of Broken Glass, whereby hundreds of synagogues and shops were destroyed. You leave this whole area in quiet mood accompanied by a heavy heart.
The next section shifts and is a contemporary display. Some boards highlight themes from Anne’s diary to explore racial hatred and the value of freedom and education, and how they relate to our lives today. They have questions that encourage you to think about what you have just seen in the historic section and apply it to our times. One focuses on Malala Yousafzai, the young Nobel Prize-winner who campaigned against the ban of girls attending school. For this, Taliban militants shot her in 2012. Malala has been referred to as the Pakistani Anne Frank.
The second element is work produced by the Anne Frank Trust and the young Roma community of Newcastle. They were given the mature task of comparing their own experiences to Anne. The result was they felt prejudice, but felt extremely proud of their heritage; Anne gave them the courage to express this through art. As she used words to express her feelings, some of the group produced a modern song, which they proudly performed at the Sage in Gateshead.
A particularly hard-hitting moment was a short film, about after the Holocaust, saying this must never happen again. The footage that followed shows that this indeed did happen again, and we must strive to fight against it. It is a vastly important exhibition to attend and gives you a great deal to think about; it links international, national and local themes. The aim of ‘Anne Frank + You, Anne Frank + Us’ is to bring the message of Anne Frank into the 21st Century as we all must.
Article by Beverley Knight