Seattle Holocaust Center remembers Anne Frank’s Legacy

Over 70 years after her untimely and tragic death, the memory of Anne Frank can still be felt in the hearts of Seattleites at the Holocaust Center for Humanity in downtown Seattle. Since its initial creation in 2015 titled “Let Me Be Myself: The Life Story of Anne Frank” exhibit in Canberra, Australia, several countries have been able to share Anne’s story in their museums. Recently, Seattle has had the privilege to be the first location in North America to house this exhibit from March 4 to May 31.

From the beginning of the tour, it became clear that the focus of the exhibit was to convey who Frank truly was as a person, rather than who history books choose to remember her as. Masu Sasajima, a docent that has led the “Let Me Be Myself” tours since the exhibit has opened in Seattle, explained that the exhibit wanted to focus more on who Frank personally was.

“The Nazis didn’t see Anne as anything more than her label as a Jew. They didn’t see her as a girl whose favorite color was red, or that she dreamed of becoming a journalist,” Sasajima said.

The exhibit transitioned from Frank’s childhood to a more in-depth historical background on what was happening in Germany and Europe at the time—with the rise of Hitler and outbreak of World War II. Eventually, the exhibit showed the family going into hiding; there was a scale-model of the home that the Frank family, along with the van Pels and another family friend, hid in for two years. The museum placed an emphasis on explaining that despite her family in hiding, that did not deter Anne from expressing her dreams and passions for writing. By keeping a journal, Frank journaled many of her thoughts and experiences. This personal journal though would eventually be published and known as The Diary of a Young Girl, which would define one of the biggest historical events in the

20th century.

The exhibit chose to integrate the lives and stories of people who also face discrimination in present time. Stations were set up so visitors could read the stories of several people who faced discrimination for their race, disability or religious views. This was a way of showing that despite 70 years passing since Frank’s story of discrimination and prejudice, that did not mean that discrimination has ceased entirely, but instead has only manifested in other forms.

Marcy Bloom, a docent at the exhibit, explained the importance of telling Frank’s story in hopes that it will bring awareness to the current forms of discrimination that people face today.

“These stories are so important and we have to keep learning, telling and speaking out against hatred and bigotry,” Bloom said.

Bloom described that prior, visitors to the center are usually familiar with Frank’s life, but they leave with newfound knowledge and perspectives on Frank’s story.

“Our visitors have been very positive and seem very moved by Anne’s story and getting reminded of, or learning for the first time what happened in Germany in World War II. The Holocaust killed six million Jews, and five million others, and a question that is always asked is, ‘Will this happen again?’” Bloom said.

The Holocaust Center for Humanity has helped in bringing more awareness and appreciation to Jewish culture within the greater Seattle community. However, there’s no need to go all the way downtown to experience a supportive, educational and open community for Jewish culture; there is already one right here on campus at Seattle University.

Reverend Victoria Carr-Ware is both a campus minister as well as a facilitator for the Jewish Student Union (JSU) on campus. Reverend Carr-Ware explained that despite the JSU being on the smaller side, that doesn’t place a limit on activities hosted yearly.

“We have our ‘Hanu-Chaos’ event, which is an event that has been going on for a few years, originally set up a few years back, and we’ve kept doing it. We have our Holocaust and Genocide Remembrance Event, and the Passover Seder that another professor helps organize, as well,” Reverend Carr-Ware said.

When speaking about the size of the Jewish community on the Seattle U campus, the Reverend said, “We had 25 students come out for the Passover Seder, which is really good when we only have about 80 to about 100 Jewish students on campus.”

However, size is not an indicator of a strength of a community. In Seattle and at Seattle U, people are very dedicated and open to expanding and helping others learn more about not just Jewish history, but how to keep building appreciation and awareness for Jewish culture now.

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