Anne Frank’s Legacy


Lately, a Google News Alert for “Anne Frank” has filled our inbox with a range of online content relating to the famous diarist and Holocaust victim (“Anne, For A New Generation,” Feb. 24). Her continuing presence in our life is evident as she serves as a springboard for discussions about modern Jewish identity and consciousness, evidenced by her starring roles in Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” and Shalom Auslander’s “Hope: A Tragedy.” Last week, in an apparent violation of an agreement by the Church of Latter-day Saints, a Mormon Church in the Dominican Republic posthumously baptized her. While less headline grabbing, but more in keeping with her longstanding role in American culture, every week a new staging of “The Diary of Anne Frank” opens in a school or community theater across the United States.

Anne Frank’s legacy lies not in her utility as a literary vehicle or a metaphor for 21st-century Jews to examine their connection to the Holocaust or their present-day guilt, but in the applicability of her words to our modern life. That legacy is preserved by The Anne Frank Center, a partner of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It was established 35 years ago by her father, Otto Frank, who recognized that his daughter’s diary would be a valuable tool for promoting lessons on the consequences of intolerance.

The Anne Frank Center fulfills that mission through its traveling exhibition programs, which in 2010 allowed 90,000 people around the United States to learn of Anne’s life and its lessons for today; its innovative programs in schools; and the exhibits and programs at its new center, located in the shadow of the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero and across the street from Park 51, the Islamic center.

By challenging ourselves and our children to build a world based on mutual respect, we remain true to the spirit of Anne Frank and her legacy — a legacy that need not be sacrificed in order to keep her current in literature as a wizened octogenarian, but must be encouraged to keep the still relevant words of a wise 13-year-old alive.

Paul Kaplan Co-Chairs of the Board of The Anne Frank Center USA