Anne Frank: ‘Let Me Be Myself’ Exhibition tours New Zealand

February 12, 2018 by Keren Cook
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The Wellington-based Holocaust Centre of New Zealand (HCNZ) has welcomed the exhibition Anne Frank: Let Me Be Myself to New Zealand which has opened in Auckland.

Created by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and brought to New Zealand by the HCNZ, the exhibition is a beautiful and curated experience around life and daily existence in Central Europe during the 1930s and 40s. The life and diary of Anne Frank is the gateway for themes of tolerance, prejudice and offers visitors the opportunity for reflection and introspection.

The exhibition opened at the Auckland War Memorial Museum this week and attracted many of Auckland’s Jewish community and wider Auckland community leaders, including an opening address by Phil Goff, Mayor of Auckland.

Anne Frank; Let Me Be Myself has already made an impression in the hearts and minds of its visitors – seen by over 80 million people around the world.

Robert Narev and Roger Moses

Now on display for members of the public, held in the atmospheric Grand Foyer at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, until May 13, the exhibition will then head south to Wellington and Christchurch and finish 2018 in Whangarei, Northland.

Plans for 2019 include the exhibition travelling to the National Army Museum in Waiouru, Waikato and Dunedin with other locations across both islands still being confirmed for 2020.

Auckland Museum Director Dr David Gaimster says: “Auckland Museum is honoured to be the first in New Zealand to share this exhibition exploring themes that are increasingly relevant in today’s world.”

One of the key themes the exhibition tackles is discrimination.

The exhibition makes clear what the role of prejudice can be and how this can lead to exclusion and discrimination.

Chairman of Anne Frank NZ Boyd Klap says: “ Discrimination is a terrible thing but it happens all the time.

“But the discrimination of the Nazis – it really was discrimination – destroyed a whole race, killing six million Jews, homosexuals, handicapped people,” Mr Klap says.

“I was a courier in the Dutch resistance when the Netherlands was liberated.

“It seems to me the message of the Holocaust has never been more important.  We still have much to learn from stories like Anne’s,” says Mr Klap.

Anne Frank’s diary was first published in 1947, and has since been published in 70 different languages in 60 different countries, making the most translated book of all time.

Visitors can expect to see several objects on display, among them: a replica of diary of Anne Frank and a scale model of the hiding place.

Making use of large size pictures, the exhibition Let Me Myself  – The Life Story of Anne Frank shows the story of Anne Frank from her birth in 1929 up to her death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945.

Each exhibition panel features images and texts about the world, as Anne Frank knew it: the rise of Hitler, the persecution of the Jews and the Second World War. One third of the exhibition is dedicated to stories of young people today; this part of the exhibition also contains several film clips.

A group of 97 Auckland secondary school students from over 30 schools have volunteered to work as guides and have been given a full day of training into basic Holocaust knowledge. The students are well prepared with resources and will offer peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge for school students and support for teachers who visit the exhibition with their students.

The student guide is responsible for taking half of their class through the modern or historical part and then facilitating a question and answer session that enables students to reflect on the past and how life is today. This introspection takes place in the educational space close to the exhibition.

The team behind the tour is hoping 100,000 Kiwis aged 14 to 25 will visit the exhibition.

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