Anne Frank + You, presented by education charity the Anne Frank Trust UK, draws on themes from Anne's diary that have a strong modern resonance - such as opposing racial hatred, and the value of freedom.
Walsall College is the venue for the exhibition’s Midlands run, which features artwork, photographs and stories that explore the various ways hate and prejudice can manifest, including racism in football, street crime, and terror attacks.
Funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, the exhibition is part of a UK tour following a London launch. The evening at Walsall College featured talks from Taliban and Holocaust survivors, who shared their experiences of prejudice and discrimination.
16-year-old Ahmad Nawaz was shot in the arm when Taliban terrorists stormed his school in Peshawar in 2014. His younger brother and dozens of friends were among over 140 mainly young people murdered in the attack.
Another speaker was Mindhu Hornick, a Holocaust survivor who was just 12 years old when she was sent to Auschwitz along with her mother, sister and two brothers. She and her sister were the only ones to survive.
Mayor Marco Longhi was also at the event, and delivered a speech on the importance of standing up against hate and discrimination. Speaking about the event, he said: "Walsall is very honoured to host this important Anne Frank exhibition. The legacy of Anne Frank is without parallel. To generations past, present and future she is an enduring symbol of human spirit, faith and fragility during one of the darkest times in modern history.
The significance of Anne must never be forgotten or underestimated. The West Midlands is a widely diverse region, and the protection of human life and respect for all faith groups and communities to live without fear and intimidation - is central to a democratic and cohesive society.”
Anne Frank ambassadors also spoke at the launch, all of whom were students from Holly Hall Academy in Dudley and Wolverhampton secondary school Heath Park. They read passages from victims of hate crime to highlight how innocent lives can be torn apart as a result of violence.
Robert Posner, Chief Executive of the Anne Frank Trust UK said: "This is a really important and relevant exhibition which promises to get people thinking about the danger to society of prejudice and discrimination not just historically but now. At a time when hate crime is on the rise and hate speech is becoming commonplace - particularly online - it's vital that we understand where intolerance and hatred of others can lead. We hope visitors to the exhibition will take some of that understanding away with them."
The exhibition's opening night fell on the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, when German Nazis torched synagogues, vandalised Jewish homes, schools and businesses, and killed close to 100 Jews. The anniversary will be commemorated during the event in a presentation by young Anne Frank Ambassadors from the region."
Lord Bourne, Minister for Faith, Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The Anne Frank Trust has been tireless in making sure that young people in Britain learn the lessons of a terrible time in human history, so poignantly recorded by Anne Frank. This exhibition will keep up their valuable work by delivering this powerful message to a new audience.
“It's important that we all continue to tackle hatred and prejudice. Anne Frank’s legacy is that her story helps us do this with people of all ages including children and young people.”
Carol Egan, Director of Student Journey at Walsall College said: “As a college, we make it our mission to ensure students and staff can study and work in a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment. That means embracing values such as equality and diversity, democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect – both individually and as a community. It is a privilege to host the Anne Frank +You exhibition, especially as its powerful messages resonate with our own values.
Through this exhibition, we hope all visitors – students, staff and members of the public – understand how detrimental hate can be to the perpetrator, the victim and society as a whole. We want to highlight the importance of working together to create an environment where everyone is valued and treated with respect.”
Anne Frank + You runs at Walsall College until 7th December, as part of a tour that takes place in Walsall, Leicester, Rotherham, Newcastle and Taunton.
Published on Nov 13th 2017