Dutch pupils get Holocaust lessons at revolving Anne Frank house replica

Cnaan Liphshiz

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The Netherlands’ education minister attended the first lesson in a program which teaches school children about the Holocaust in a replica of the house where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.

Minister Jet Bussemaker attended the first lesson of “Program ANNE” last week with 60 elementary school pupils at Theater Amsterdam — an 1,100-seat venue in the center of the Dutch capital which opened last year and is devoted to a new play about the life of the teenage diarist who died at the age of 15 in a German concentration camp.

“I want everyone to know and never forget the story of Anne Frank,” Bussenmaker said at the event. “This educational project can help make people think about how we should get along with one another today.”

The “Program ANNE” educational initiative is part of the work of the not-for-profit Educational Program ANNE and is intended to bring thousands of school children to the set of the new play. The not-for-profit program was set up by the Basel-based Anne Frank Fonds.

The world’s first production to be based on the full archive of the Frank family, the play ANNE is put on almost every night at a revolving replica of the secret annex at Prinsengracht 263. The annex itself, which is located approximately a mile away from the theater, was made into a museum which is one of the Netherlands’ most popular tourist sites with more than a million visitors annually.

The museum is run by the Amsterdam-based Anne Frank House, while the theater is the result of a collaboration between the Dutch entertainment for-profit company Imagine Nation and the Basel-based Anne Frank Fonds – a charity that Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank, established in Switzerland in 1963. That organization is the sole owner of rights to the family’s archives and of Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” one of the world’s most well-read books.

Educational Program ANNE and its new project involving school children “are part of the vision that led to the collaboration in the first place, which is that the play needs to go beyond theater to become an educational tool,” Ilan Roos, a representative of Imagine Nation, told JTA.