At our annual Gala on June 12, 2014, The Anne Frank Center USA hosted 36 very special guests. They came from all over Europe with one very crucial experience in common – they spent their childhood in hiding.
As children of World War II – and like Anne Frank herself – they each had stories of a young life behind shadows – of false papers, of dark barns and closets, and of a few brave souls who risked it all. As a collective body, they reminded us not only of the horrors wrought by intolerance, but of the necessity of combatting it. In other words, they reminded us of why we at The Anne Frank Center USA come to work every day and why we are so honored to do so.
With Anne as our inspiration, we think a lot about children here – about their insight and their impact on the world. Since moving to our new gallery space in Tribeca in 2012, we have made it our mission to keep the lessons of the Holocaust alive in ever more relatable and dynamic ways, particularly to this young audience. In 2014, we welcomed over 1400 local school children to our educational space, designed to look like Anne’s room in the Annex. As they stare at the childhood posters on Anne’s “wall,” as they listen to quotes from her famous diary, students are encouraged to think about the young writer not only as something from the past, but as a human being whose experiences matter today. Through our gallery, they learn to consider how racism, antisemitism, and other forms of discrimination present themselves in their own lives and, equally important, what they can do to stop it.
A recent inquiry, from a language arts teacher in a rural town in Kansas, read, “These students have never met a person of Jewish faith, nor are they accustomed to seeing anyone different than they are.” For these communities, our exhibits literally open up a new world and in doing so, break down the barriers that, if left unchecked, can lead to fear and injustice.
Anne Frank would have turned 85 years old the day of the Gala, when The Center honored her and all the other hidden children of the Holocaust. Having wanted to be a famous writer, one hopes she would have taken great pride in the impact her famous diary has had on the world, but more likely she would have reminded us that the fight for justice is not over. Religious hostilities worldwide are at a six year high. Europe, in particular, has seen a sharp rise in antisemitic behavior. And children all over the globe are still taken hostage to violence and intolerance.
In other words, there is still much work to be done in Anne’s name. Through our exhibits, school groups, a host of other public programs and exhibitions – and, most importantly, your help – we know it can be done. Thank you for your continued support.
“Only combating intolerance can ensure the survival of all communities in every region of the world. In the end, we all share the same destiny and our children share the same future.”
Director of Development
“No one has ever become poor by giving” – Anne Frank
Hilary Eddy Stipelman
Director of Outreach and Exhibitions
“Seeing how visitors of all ages connect to Anne Frank through our traveling exhibits is a wonderful experience for me. While we cannot go back and rewrite history we can help teach that history to empower individuals with their own moral courage.”
Director of Public Programs
"Anne believed that “in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart.” The programs and exhibits at the Center reinforce Anne’s optimistic words, reminding us that in combating prejudice and intolerance, we are demanding a world dedicated to justice, compassion and equality."
School Programs Manager
“How fortunate we are to have Anne’s words, her message of hope, and her legacy as the core inspiration of our educational programming. The inspiration continues for me each moment as young people grapple with the difficult lessons of the past to promote a better world based on mutual respect.”
Marketing and Communications Manager
“I cannot express what a pleasure it is to work in a place where everywhere you look you see Anne smiling back at you, reminding you of the positive change you can effect and the strength of optimism and simple goodness.”
Alan G. Moore
“I enjoy working at The Anne Frank Center because our staff is dedicated to passing on her ideals, and I know the work contributes in some way to creating a better world.”
“It’s incredible to see how Anne’s story impacts a whole family when they visit the Center – each person absorbs something very powerful but the experience is different for each person.”
“Anne’s story is one to be shared and never forgotten. It is an honor to work in a place where her story and thousands like it continue to be told everyday. Each visitor has a unique experience and takes away something different from their time at the Center.”
The Anne Frank House (AFH) in Amsterdam, where Anne spent two years in hiding, welcomes over a million visitors every year. But for many Americans, it is still out of reach. That’s where we come in. As the oldest partner of the AFH, The Anne Frank Center USA in New York City brings Anne’s story home to millions.
Given our mission of educating future generations, it is no wonder school groups occupy much of what we do here at The Anne Frank Center USA. Through accessible and innovative field trips and residency programs, we reached nearly 2500 local students in 2014, teaching them about the dangers of discrimination and the power one individual has to change the world for the better.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote these words amid segregation and the fight for civil rights in the 1960s, but they apply just as well to Anne’s time and today. The Anne Frank Center USA realizes that the struggle for equality and tolerance is not over, which is why we host a variety of public events every year designed to highlight key issues surrounding injustice and civil rights.
When a trip to Amsterdam or New York is simply not in the cards, The Anne Frank Center USA is happy to come to you. In 2014, our series of traveling exhibitions reached 63,810 people across America from Idaho and Texas to West Virginia. On top of this, our staff trained 443 local docents, who can teach people about Anne’s life and mission long after we leave town.
The Anne Frank Center USA offers two live performances for audiences of all ages. In Conversations with Anne and Letters from Anne and Martin, viewers experience Anne Frank like never before - as she tells them of her hopes and fears, and, in some cases, actually interacts with her audience.
From inside the Secret Annex, Anne Frank drew solace from a great chestnut tree towering outside. The tree provided comfort, symbolizing the hope and beauty that remained in the world. In honor of this, in 2009, The Anne Frank Center USA founded The Sapling Project, wherein saplings from this very tree are planted throughout America, ensuring Anne’s message of peace never dies. The Project also supports the series, Confronting Intolerance Today, which showcases innovative approaches to combating intolerance in the U.S. and the Netherlands.
On April 30, 2014, Representatives from both parties came together to plant the Anne Frank Memorial Tree on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, a very unique and special honor. The planting was part of The Center’s Sapling Project, a program in which saplings from the very tree outside the Secret Annex – a tree which Anne wrote about in her diary and from which she drew great inspiration – are planted at sites across America that work toward social justice and human rights.
In addition to hosting school groups, The Center sponsors Artist-in-Residence programs, in which we bring a wide range of innovative workshops right to your classroom. Geared to various grade levels, these education programs integrate artistic, literary, historical, and/or performance-based components that teach the lessons of Anne Frank in a meaningful and ever relevant manner.
The Anne Frank Center USA and The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam recently joined forces to establish The Partnership for Growth in order to provide our traveling exhibits on Anne Frank to schools and smaller organizations that might otherwise be unable to afford them. To date, we have served three primary areas, including the Pacific Northwest, South Carolina, and Florida.
In honor of the National Day on Writing in October 2014, The Anne Frank Center USA sponsored an essay contest for middle school students in grades 5-8. The winner received three round trip tickets on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to visit The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
The Anne Frank Center USA was honored to take part in a special ceremony at the Library of Congress in the fall of 2014 to honor Rabbi David Saperstein and Reverend Dr. Canon Andrew White, two exceptional individuals who have given their lives to the support of social justice and religious tolerance.
Photo Credit: Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Shortly after the Nazis raided the Secret Annex where Anne Frank and her family spent two years in hiding, Miep Gies, one of the brave Dutch citizens who helped the family hide, entered the Annex and saw the pages of Anne’s diary scattered on the floor. She saved them, hoping to return them to Anne when the war was over. That was not to be.
Of the eight people Miep Gies helped to hide only Anne’s father, Otto, survived. She gave the diary to him and he shared it with the world.
The Diary of a Young Girl has sold over 30 million copies and has been published in nearly 70 languages. Anne’s words teach us not only the horrors of the Holocaust, but also bring a message of tolerance and respect that becomes even more relevant with the passage of time.
The Anne Frank Center USA, founded by Otto Frank, is proud of our work in promoting Anne’s legacy. Our permanent exhibit and public programs in New York City tell Anne’s story to thousands of local visitors, tourists and school children every year. Our traveling exhibits were placed in 15 states in 2014, with 65,000 estimated visitors. Saplings from the chestnut tree outside the Secret Annex have been planted around the country, including on the lawn of the US Capitol, with more plantings scheduled for 2015. Our programs and projects grow each year.
None of this could happen without the passion and conviction of supporters who believed, as Miep Gies did, in the power of Anne’s vision and in a world based on compassion and mutual respect.
Thank you for your support of our work.
Deborah Chapin and Paul D. Kaplan,
Co-Chairs of the Board
As usual, Anne Frank said it best: “No one has ever become poor by giving.” At The Anne Frank Center USA, there are many ways of giving and we appreciate each and every one of them.
Here is a list showing the good donations of all sizes can do. To discuss other options, please contact Sylvia Spitalnick, Director of Development, at email@example.com or visit our donation page at: www.annefrank.com/support-us
$300 – Fund a film screening at The Center for the local community
$500 – Fund a public program with a fantastic writer or scholar
$1000 – Help us spread the word by contributing to our marketing fund – our wish list includes a digital press kit, updated brochures, advertising, and a video
$1200 – Provide free field trips to 10 schools groups located in low income neighborhoods, reaching up to 300 students
$2500 – Sponsor a four-week run of the Reading and Writing with Anne Frank exhibit at a library or school
$5000 – Bring one-day workshops with a visual art, writing and/or drama focus into 10 NYC schools, reaching up to 40 classes and 1,200 students
$2500-$10,000 – Support a 4-to-10 week art residency for up to 250 students at a local middle school
$3000-$10,000 - Provide a year-round series of stimulating evening programs for adults, including author talks, films, dialogues, and musical performances. As an option, you may prefer to support one particular series such as the Human Rights Film Series, Writing and Resistance Author Talks, or our 2015 Helpers, Heroes and Liberators series commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camps, the death of Anne Frank, and the end of the war in Europe.
$25,000 – Keep Anne’s message alive by underwriting our National Sapling Project to plant 11 saplings from the chestnut tree that stood behind the Secret Annex – and that Anne wrote about in her diary – at sites of tolerance across America. The Project also includes our Confronting Intolerance Today lecture series.
$25,000-$50,000 – Sponsor our Spirit of Anne Frank Awards Gala where we honor inspired, exceptional students and individuals who champion our mission.
The Anne Frank Center USA Celebrates all the Generous Donors Who Made Contributions in 2014. Below are listed those who made gifts of $2500 or more.
Individuals and Family
The Anne Frank Center recently lost two of its most beloved supporters – Ina Soep Polak, on May 14, 2014, and her husband Jack Polak, Former Chairman Emeritus of The Center, on January 9, 2015.
Born in Amsterdam, Jack and Ina fell in love at Westerbork concentration camp – barrack 64. The two had met once a few months before at a party and began a courtship upon reuniting.
“I thought what a beautiful girl,” Jack told The New York Times, who profiled the couple in 2007, about his first meeting with Ina. “And now I’m married to that girl for the last 61 years.”
The two spent their time in Westerbork writing love letters to one another, which they published in 2000 in a collection entitled, Steal a Pencil for Me. Their story was later made into a documentary of the same name by Academy Award nominee Michèle Ohayon.
After emigrating to New York in 1951, where they raised three children – Margrit, Tony, and Fred – the two became fearless advocates for tolerance education, working closely with The Anne Frank Center USA and other organizations on countless occasions. “Jack and Ina would speak to thousands of school children all across the country, long after we all felt they should take it easier,” recalls Yvonne Simons, Executive Director of The Anne Frank Center USA. “They both loved interacting with children, and were later thrown into the movie circuit with the same energy when Steal a Pencil for Me was released. They’d go to each and every screening, always signing books and speaking about the horrors of the Holocaust and the lessons to be learned.”
The couple felt a particular kinship with Anne Frank not only because she too was a Dutch Jew, but because of her mission to spread a message of hope, tolerance, and courage around the world. Jack often summarized his life’s lessons into six simple rules:
Don’t be a bystander
Do work for peace
Do enjoy the simple things in life
Do understand that we live in a wonderful country and that we all need to work together to make this a better world, which is only possible if we learn from horrible experiences like the Holocaust.