Dutch students get Holocaust lessons at revolving Anne Frank house replica


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The Netherlands’ education minister was on hand for the first lesson in a program that teaches schoolchildren about the Holocaust in a replica of the house where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.

Jet Bussemaker joined 60 elementary school students last week for the Program ANNE lesson at Theater Amsterdam, an 1,100-seat venue in the center of the Dutch capital that opened last year. The theater 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 not-for-profit Educational Program ANNE is intended to bring thousands of schoolchildren to the set of the new play. The 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, “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 that is among the Netherlands’ most popular tourist sites, with more than 1 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, 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 schoolchildren “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.

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