The exhibition is in the form of 10 adjoining panels that contain a time line and photographs. The panels begin with the birth of Anne Frank and end with the death of her father who survived the war and died in 1980. The time line weaves together the Frank family history with the wider historical events leading up to and including World War Two. I was informed as I silently read of the impact on the Frank family and all European Jews at that time. It made for harrowing reading. There is no sound track. I stood and moved slowly and silently with other witnesses in the room. The facts of this barbarity are not new to me, but the impact of the facts does not lessen on a revisiting. It became a sombre walk as I read my way slowly along the panels.
There were lots of photographs, some taken in the carefree days in Germany, others taken in The Netherlands where they had fled to. I thought this one was the cutest and the most endearing. It shows a young Anne outside her fathers place of work in Amsterdam. She is checking her watch.
The Nazis sent little girls like this to the gas chambers all over Europe. Its beyond belief really.
This photograph was taken circa 1935 which makes it nearly 80 years old. From time to time I see very old photographs like this. They are taken in bright sunlight, usually with the sun at the photographers back. The shadows are sharp and the image is crisp - so much so that it seems as though the photo was taken yesterday. For me this creates a special poignancy that reaches out, calling and echoing across the years. Despite the unfolding tragedy of what I was reading I couldn't help but look and smile at this image. One day I hope to go back to The Netherlands and visit the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.
This display was at the exit to the museum. It asks a question. It sounded slightly like a challenge in light of what had just been viewed. If this question was the name of a song on one side of a old styled vinyl record, the other side may well have said, "Count Your Blessings".
It's a very good question - What are you grateful for?
Physically separate in another part of the museum but part of this exhibition, there was a video to watch. Two survivors of the concentration camps were interviewed about their experiences. One of them quoted the English philosopher Edmund Burke who said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing."
It is those who did something that I am grateful for in this context - good men and women helped and hid, at the risk of their own and their families lives, those fleeing from the Nazi terror. The outcome for the Frank family was a bitter one with only the father Otto Frank surviving. But for many in a Europe on the brink of a new dark age, the courage of those prepared to do something rather than nothing, was the difference between life and death. It is this spirit and this imperative that lives on. That is something that we can all be grateful for.