Anne Frank – A History for Today

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It was in the winter of 2012 that Priya Machado and Loes Singels from the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam arrived in Calcutta at the Seagull Foundation for the Arts. The outcome of the visit was a teachers’ workshop and the decision to bring the project Anne Frank—A History for Today, consisting of an international travelling exhibition and related workshops and activities, to India for the first time with Calcutta as its first host.

Fast-forward 11 months and some days.

After multiple discussions on a perfect venue, it was finally decided that the Anne Frank exhibition would be presented at the Seagull Foundation for the Arts. Before the official opening of the exhibition 18 students from four schools were trained for two days to set up and be peer guides. Read the full report here

The official opening of the exhibition ensued on 30 November in full grandeur with Marielle van Miltenburg from the Dutch Consulate in New Delhi, Namit Shah, Honorary Consul of Dutch Embassy, Calcutta, Priya Machado and Loes Singels from the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam and Megha Malhotra, Seagull-PeaceWorks addressing the gathering of over sixty people.

December began with a three-day workshop on film making, centring on the dilemmas posed by contradicting articles in the UDHR. Conducted by Aaron Peterer from the Anne Frank House, fourteen participants from schools and colleges across the city spent three days together and put together two short films on the topic of censorship versus the freedom of expression. Full report here.

The exhibition meanwhile also had a constant stream of visitors, mainly schools who had pre-booked the time and dates of their visit. This ensured a constant and smooth flow of visitors to go through the panels, watch The Short Life of Anne Frank and also complete attention to each batch of students who participated in an educational activity after viewing the exhibition. The activity included a short introduction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and an analysis of Malala’s case on the right to education.

Friday, the sixth of December was completely devoted to the teachers. Seventeen teachers from nine different schools spent the entire day on various discussions on taking the story of the holocaust and human rights to the students.

During the course of the exhibition, fourteen schools visited with a total of over three hundred and fifty students between classes VI to XI apart from general public. Peer guides from La Martinere for Boys, Lakshmipat Singhania Academy and Modern High School for Girls also made themselves available to take the students through the exhibition and interact with them. Each batch of students responded differently to the Holocaust, Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, Malala and the human rights. The responses ranged from appreciating the ‘genius that was Hitler’ to loathing him for his existence on the earth. While the younger ones were a bit shy to read the Diary because of the ‘bad parts in it’, the older students felt inspired by the story of Anne Frank. Every student accepted the need for human rights but their responses towards various violations that happen everyday around them were varied.

The exhibition came to its striking conclusion when the peer guides met again at the Seagull gallery on the 13th of December to wrap it up.