Anne Frank

When my sister suggested that we see the Anne Frank exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance while I am here in California, I thought that was an excellent idea. I had read the book years ago, but I enjoy museums and history.

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Anne was so young when her family had to go in hiding. She didn’t get to finish school, but she loved writing.

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There were a number of family photos in circle frames along the walls.

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The exhibit contains a beautiful, detailed replica of Anne’s original diary. Miep Geis, the woman who protected the family during the Nazi occupation, found the diary on the floor of the secret room after the Nazi soldiers found and arrested the family.  The Nazi soldiers had dumped the journal out of the family’s bag and replaced it with what they considered valuables.

Miep wasn’t taken only because an arresting solider from Austria recognized her Austrian accent as she spoke German. I would hope I had the courage Miep Geis did, bicycling 8 miles to fields outside the city in search of food not only for herself but also for those living in the secret room hidden by a bookcase built to conceal the entrance to the attic.

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Only Anne’s father, Otto, survived the Holocaust. Anne and her sister died of Typhus only weeks before they would have been liberated. There were walls of rolled fabric throughout the display. They changed from the gray and stripes to all black as a tribute to the darkness of the atrocities and to Anne’s death. Her journal is displayed in the circular container.

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However, in the next room, where a collection of published copies of Anne’s journal were displayed, the walls are covered in bright colored fabric from the clothing of the children. It marks hope, I was told by a guide. Upon Otto Franks’s return to Holland, Miep gave Otto the diary. It wasn’t long before he was encouraged to publish his daughter’s writing. Otto said that while he thought he knew his child, upon reading the diary, he was struck by how self-critical and reflective she was, revealing just how little he knew of her.

When I asked whether the diary had been edited, the woman said that Otto did edit the version that I read. Anne didn’t like some of the people with whom she lived, so she changed their names. There were also parts that described Anne’s difficult relationship with her mother. Those parts were taken out of the original book. In the last few years, an unedited version has been published. I’d love to find that edition.

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The photographer in me saw these mirrored walls as I walked behind my sister on the way out of the exhibit. I asked her to turn around before handing off my camera so that she could take my photo.

We stayed to listen to a Holocaust survivor share her poignant story of first losing her grandmother and then her mother as they were taken from Romania as a seven year old child. When she was finally liberated by Americans, she was sent to an orphanage in Sweden. Two years later, her father found her through the Red Cross. However, as a young college student in Budapest protesting the communists, she decided to immigrate to the United States.

One wonders how so much cruelty could have been allowed to occur. A statement, part of one recording, stayed with me as we walked through the rest of the exhibits: If you repeat the lies often enough people begin to believe them.

If you’re going to see the exhibit and want a nice salad, there is a Tender Greens not 5 miles away. However, I don’t recommend Google Maps. My navigator had difficulty getting us there until she made a telephone call. In addition, Google Maps provided a convoluted route on the way home. I thought we were going to take surface streets all the way from Culver City back to Fullerton before we finished all the right turn then left turn, right turn then left turn instructions.

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  1. Diane Smith

    I went to see the Holocaust Museum in Washington and found it very moving. I was. Almost brought to tears looking at the shoes of small children.

    • Linda

      Hearing the stories and seeing the pictures definitely brings tears!!!

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