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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Anne Frank Exhibition At Palatine School, Blackpool

We saw this fascinating and thought-provoking exhibition about the story of Anne Frank at Palatine High School in Blackpool today. Listen to interview clips here:



Persecution of the Jewish Race began long before the birth of Jesus and has continued down the centuries.  For those of us who live in a liberal, Democratic Country, this is hard to comprehend.   Visiting the Mobile Anne Frank Exhibition, which is currently touring schools in the North West, was an amazing experience. 

We attended the Open Afternoon held on 4th July 2012 at The Palatine Sports and Humanities College in Blackpool.  We were welcomed at the school entrance by two of the very efficient and smart, specially trained peer ambassadors – trained to show people around the Exhibition – and taken into the room where the exhibition was set up. As we walked down the corridor we saw some of the amazing posters designed by the pupils to advertise the exhibition, as well as a display of questions that have arisen following study of the Anne Frank story.

We were very kindly provided with refreshments and had a chance to look round the exhibition before an air raid warning sounded and we were advised, for our own safety, to sit down and listen to the presentation prepared by year 9 pupils.   The presentation explained the purpose of the exhibition and included an excerpt from Anne Frank’s Diary, most impressively recited from memory by one of the pupils.

Julian Mineur of the Support our Brave shop in Bank Hey Street, explained the role of our Armed Forces in safeguarding democracy for us.

After the presentation, we were again able to have an in-depth look at the exhibition panels, each of which was manned by a very knowledgeable Year 9 pupil, on hand to explain and answer questions.

Anne Frank was a young, Jewish, German girl who kept a diary about her experiences from her family’s flight to Holland from persecution in Germany in the 1930s, through a period in hiding to the family’s betrayal.   Anne’s Father was the only member of the family to survive the concentration camps and when his daughter’s dairy came to light, he had it published.

And so Anne Frank’s story lives on and, as Marian McQueen of the Anne Frank Trust says, the message of the Exhibition is definitely one of Hope – as it travels round the country and more and more people become aware that is the way to genuine unity and to ensure that nothing like the Holocaust ever happens again.

As we stand on the threshold of a vote about Britain’s membership of the European Union, it seems appropriate to remember that the original concept of the Union (or the Common Market as it was formerly known) as it was drawn up by a German/Luxembourgish man called Robert Schuman.  

As the Anne Frank Exhibition explains, Anne Frank’s father and uncle both fought for the Germans during the First World War, as did Robert Schuman.   As a German citizen, Schuman also witnessed first hand not only the terrible carnage of the First World War but also the terrible social problems brought about by the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles following the German defeat in the First World War and the destruction to both France and German during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 - 1871, which ended in a French defeat. 

Ironically, the original German plan of the 1930s was to move the Jews away to another country (I believe Madagascar was suggested) in order to make room for Germans – and this is exactly what happened to Palestine when Israel was formed after the Second World War.

Robert Schuman hoped that ‘European integration would avoid the errors of national democracies and an excess of bureaucracy and technocracy’.   He was also anxious to ensure that a united Europe would ensure that nothing like the two World Wars and the Holocaust ever happened again.

And talking to the pupils and teachers of Palatine and to Marian McQueen of The Anne Frank Trust, the best way to ensure that such persecution does not happen again to anyone, is to inform and educate people.

There was a huge amount of energy generated in the exhibition room and a great deal of hard work had obviously gone into the preparation of the presentation and of all elements of the exhibition.   It was a very moving experience and very educational.  We had not read Anne Frank’s diary but it is now high on our reading list.

Thanks must go to Miss Cheston and her year 9 pupils, to Mr Powell, the Head Teacher and to the staff of other subjects who also contributed and to Marian McQueen and her helpers at the Anne Frank Trust.

If you missed this wonderful experience, don’t worry the Anne Frank Exhibition “Anne Frank and You” will be coming to Blackpool to Grange Park to the City Learning Centre from 5th to 30th November 2012.

For further information about Palatine School see www.palatinesportscollege.co.uk

For further information about the Anne Frank Exhibitions, see www.annefrank.org.uk