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The Project Anne Frank Meet and Learn

 

Kazuya Asakawa ( Tokaigakuen University, e-mail kasan@mac.com )

 

I. Introduction
   In 2009, 
to commemorate 80th anniversary of Anne Frank’s birth, 34 bilingual panels about Anne Frank and the Holocaust were made to exhibit. Exhibitions were held at Sophia University and someother places in Japan at that time but the panels were not displayed in public afterward, except at some exhibitions in churches. However, volunteers from JEARN*, Japan Association of Education and Resource Network, formed a group and made a new project, Anne Frank Meet and Learn, in cooperated with Global Campaign for Peace Education Japan**, in order to make better use of the panels. The panels are lent to schools or public facilities. In this paper let me share ideas about how to better utilize those resources. 

 

I. The 80th anniversary of Anne Frank

   The year 2009 was 80th anniversary of Anne Frank’s birth. To inaugurate the year, there were a lot of events. 34 posters were made and an exhibition tour started from Sophia University in cooperation with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tokyo, was done.

   It formed part of the events for Japan – Dutch year (2008 – 2009). The year 2008 marked the 150th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations between Japan and the Netherlands, and in 2009 the 400th anniversary of commercial relations were commemorated, these dating back to 1609, when Tokugawa Ieyasu issued an official trade permit to the Netherlands. In 2009, also, the diary of Anne Frank was coined at Memory of the World Register, the list of the UNESCO documentary heritage of the World. The diary brings her life story to the attention of people all over the world. It describes her life as an adolescent girl during the two years she, her family and four other people lived in hiding during WWII. Her diary is in the top 10 books most read worldwide.

 

II. Anne Frank and her diary

  The diary of Anne Frank was translated into Japanese in December 1952 and became a bestseller in 1953. It is popular and its extracts have often been included on school textbooks.It has become almost classic material from which to lean for peace and human rights.

   BBC broadcasted the significance of the book in report “Anne Frank's Diary vandalised in Japan libraries (21 February 2014)”: 

Professor Rotem Kowner, an expert in Japanese history and culture at Israel's University of Haifa, told the BBC that the book has been exceptionally popular and successful in Japan.

He says that in terms of absolute numbers of copies of the book sold, Japan is second only to the US, and adds that for Japanese readers the story transcended its Jewish identity to symbolise more powerfully the struggle of youth for survival.

"In the 1950s and the 1960s, there were competitions in which Japanese teenagers had to reflect on the experience of Anne Frank. Thousands of teenagers sent their submissions to such competitions," Professor Kowner says.

"It was a book about a war tragedy and the way youth experienced war... For many Japanese they would view this as a tragic development" 

 

III. The panel exhibition

   The exhibition set comprises 34 sheets, each one a door-size rollable sheet (180 cm × 90 cm) and parts for stand and joints to be assembled. Sheets describe pre-holocaust history and give information about Anne Frank’s family. Impressive images of the attic where the group hid also appear. Complementary teaching materials based on the panel exhibition were also produced by Anne Frank house and are available on the website.

   The story of Anne Frank is often chosen as the theme for a group or school projects on learning about peace and human rights. There have been many opportunities for students to study Anne Frank and make presentations. However, as our project “Anne Frank meet and Learn” is to make use of the 2009 panels, a voluntary team will coordinate the exhibitions to help keep costs to the minimum. Those who want to use the exhibition set must pay the shipping fee to the next destination.

   Annually, various exhibitions are held at public places, schools and churches. Please see below, the feedback about the exhibition from schools when the officer, Mr. Stefan Vervaeckefrom Anne Frank house visited in 2013.

   

Doshisha International Junior/Senior High School

   In autumn 2012, we were fortunate to meet Yoko Takagi of JEARN, and this encounter led us to have Anne Frank Panel Exhibition in our school.  We were planning a similar exhibition this autumn, when we learned that Stefan would be in Kyoto.  We asked him to speak in front of the high school students during our morning service and also participate in our 12th grade elective class, International Understanding.  Since two thirds of our students have experience living abroad, there are quite a few students very fluent in English.  We asked one of them to translate Stefan during this morning service and in class.  Though we only had limited time, we were able to learn about the foundation.

  “I always have the key to the hiding house of Anne Frank.  From today, you all have one too.”

  “Let’s celebrate Anne’s birthday together on June 12th.  Let’s pray for peace.”With these tranquil and yet firm words of Stefen, we were able to reconfirm our hopes for peace.  We are grateful for this encounter and will strive even harder as “peacemakers.”

Chief Chaplain, Rev. Shinji Yamamoto UCCJ

 

Hiroshima International School

   Anne Frank Panel Exhibition was held at HIS Sept. 17th~20th.  The Exhibition travels all over the world.  The tour is coordinated by the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam with the partner organizations in Japan, JEARN (Japan-international Education Resource Network). The Exhibition tells the story of Anne Frank against the background of the Holocaust and the Second World War.  Students from Grade 4 and above visited the exhibition and had the opportunity to think about concepts such as tolerance, mutual respect, human rights and democracy. Below are excerpts from the student comments.

G4-5 

   “I am happy because there are no more war in Japan but I am not happy that they are still doing war in other countries.  I feel bad about Anne Frank and all those families and people who died when there was war.  If I can go back in time maybe I will help them because I think they will be really sad.” “I think Hitler people are not thinking about life.” “I thought why disabled people had to be discriminated.  I do not like that rule. They still have important life to everyone.” “I think war is stupid!” 

G6 

   “As I went through the exhibition, I felt very sad.  It made me feel very depressed when I came to the part where Anne goes to the camp.  I didn’t want to believe that this actually happened and that thousands of people were killed. I hope this won’t happen again.” “I felt sad because Anne couldn’t live till her dream came true.” “Dear Miss Anne Frank, I cannot imagine how much pain, anger and fear you were in but I do know you wanted to be a journalist. Many people right now are being influenced by your feelings and your diary.  You may have had a very bad life but I think it was a very cool life, not everybody could do what you did!” “Dear Anne Frank House Staff, I didn’t know anything about Anne Frank, but now I want to know more about her.  I want to go and visit her house and read her diary.” “Dear Miss Anne Frank,……..Nobody could stop Hitler and I can’t get why they had to kill you.  I feel really miserable about how people who did nothing wrong had to be killed.” “Dear Miss Anne Frank, I felt really sorry for you and all your family.  I must agree that the Nazi’s were mean to kill so many people.  If I were living at your time, I think I would definitely protest to the Nazis.  Your admirer, “

 G7-8 

    “This made me think about people who thought differently due to beliefs or values.  They weren’t treated like people.  I hope nothing like this ever happens again.” “I think Hitler was wrong.  He discriminates people by their religions, skin color and sickness” “I think there should be no war and no killing just because they (people) are weak” “I think Anne Frank is a very brave and courageous girl.  I think she is an amazing inspiration and that people should look up to her. I do. She is very strong and I have a lot of respect for her.” “It shared a lot of feeling and told me what actually happened throughout her life.  I feel for this young lady and what she went through.” “I think that Anne Frank and all the other Jews during that period of time suffered too much and that nobody should be segregated whether it is in what they believe in or how they were born.  I think freedom to choose is a very important thing in life.” 

   On Sept. 24th, students in G6-8 and G9-11 had a special Humanities lesson with Mr. Stefan Vervaecke from Anne Frank House, Amsterdam.  Mr. Vervaecke spoke gently yet convincingly about the significance of Anne's life to our world today and tomorrow.  He spoke to extend students' imagination on the tragedy of war from a humanistic viewpoint. Mr. Vervaecke closed the session by asking everyone to participate in the reading of Anne's Diary on June 14th, 2014 commemorating the 85th year from Anne's birth.

 

IV. Conclusion

   The idea for promoting the exhibition is very spontaneous despite a lack of budget and authoritative support. Ms. Takagi, past chair of JEARN is making efforts to have a sponsorship from Japan Netherland Friendship Association or other institutions. 

   The conservative mood is growing and nationalistic hate speeches are being made to Korean residents in Japan.In addition a vandal action tore some of the diary’s pages in the public libraries in February 2014. The team at Anne Frank Meet and Learn had not expected such a things. Media coverage of this change in mood is inadequate. We should link past history to present human rights issue much more. A further project to read the diary with earthquake victims in Fukushima is planned. The Anne Frank house in The Netherland is going to make panels in Korean and Chinese. May the learning circle Anne Frank Meet and Learn represents, to grow and strengthen in the Asia.

 

 http://www.jearn.jp/eng/index.html 

**http://www.peace-ed-campaign.org/

   Anne Frank Meet and Learn (in Japanese)

 http://gcpej.jimdo.com/link/annefrank/

 

* This article is adopted from the paper read at the 8th INMP, International Network of Museum for Peace in NoGunRi, Korea, 2014. Sep 21st.