In the presence of Drs Willem Cosijn, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, invited guests gathered at the Lamm Jewish Library of Australia (LJLA) this Sunday, 2 August for the launch of the new travelling exhibition Let Me Be Myself – The Story of Anne Frank at the LJLA. The exhibition runs for six weeks through 10 September 2015.
Drs Cosijn opened the exhibit in the presence of Mr Joseph Reichardt, Charge’ d’Affaires (Ad Interim) of the German Embassy; Mr Vedran Drakulic, CEO of Gandel Philanthropy, the exhibition’s Education Partner; Ms iet Fuijkschot, Coordinator of the Anne Frank Travelling Exhibition Australia; Mr Sam Tatarka, President of the Zionist Council of Victoria and Chairman of Beth Weizmann Community Centre and LJLA; and Mrs Leonie Fleiszig, Director of the Lamm Jewish Library of Australia.
In his remarks, Drs Cosijn recalled Amsterdam’s past as a “Jewish city” with the nickname “’Mokum’, from the Yiddish word for ‘place’ or ‘safe haven’.” “Unfortunately,” he continued, “it did not turn out to be that safe haven. The astonishing number of 75 percent, three out of four, of the Jewish population in the Netherlands did not survive the Holocaust.” Rather than dwell on the suffering experienced by the Franks and the Jews of Europe, the afternoon, like the exhibit, focused on Anne’s optimistic nature and her role as, in the words of Mr Drakulic, “a symbol of hope for all the people whose rights are being eroded or violated”.
Ms Fuijkschot spoke of the four general themes drawn from Anne’s story and highlighted in the exhibition: identity, belonging, discrimination and response. The importance of the exhibition and Anne’s story is not in that her story is unique but that, “with her youthful wit and writing skills, she gave a face to the terrible consequences of intolerance, racism and persecution,” said Drs Cosijn. Through an exploration of Anne’s life and the historical context in which she lived and died, the exhibition “connects her story directly to the social and community challenges of today’s world, in which young people and teenagers are struggling to find their place and have their voices heard”, said Mr Drakulic.
Avigal Weizman, a student at Beth Rivkah Ladies College and member of the Hineni Zionist youth movement read two excerpts from Anne’s diary, both of which demonstrated Anne’s remarkable insight, writing skills and positivity, even in such a dark time and circumstance. “I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquillity will return again. In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out. Your’s Anne”, she recited.
After the brief ceremony, invited guests toured the exhibition, which included a special addition contributed by Ruthie Ben Danan, a member of Access Inc who had recently completed a research project about Anne Frank. All were impressed and agreed with Drs Cosijn that the exhibition “challenges us all to think about the really important values in life”.
The exhibition, compiled by the Anne Frank Stichting in Amsterdam, includes the film The Short Life of Anne Frank and is open to the public for self-guided visits during library operating hours. Guided tours for school, community and private groups are encouraged and may be arranged during operating hours or by appointment. Bookings for group tours are essential. Entry is by gold coin donation.
The LJLA operating hours are Monday through Thursday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 2pm-5pm. For information regarding bookings, please contact the Zionist Council of Victoria at (03) 9272 5544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.