The Anne Frank in the World Exhibit 1929-45 does an excellent job of adding context to a young author’s life that was cut short by the Nazis. Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl, hid in a small annex in Holland during World War II in order to avoid being deported to a concentration camp. Unfortunately, Anne Frank was discovered and eventually died under Nazi brutality, but her diary was later published and is the basis for this exhibit. The Anne Frank exhibit boasts that it is the largest of its kind in the world with over 600 photos and 8,000 words.
Visitors to the Anne Frank exhibit will appreciate how the history of Germany, Holland, and the Nazis’ rise to power create a setting for Anne Frank’s short life. The Holocaust is difficult enough to fathom without perceiving it as an event in an historical vacuum. Large sheets of material hang from the ceiling creating a winding pathway for visitors. Pictures and descriptive captions cover the material creating an ethereal effect of a sometimes ghastly past. Front pages from newspapers reporting on World War II as it happened provide visitors a chance to read perspectives without the benefit of almost seventy years of hindsight. At the end of The Anne Frank Exhibit visitors will find a replica of the small room where Anne Frank hid for many months.
The best way to begin The Anne Frank Exhibit is with the 28 minute film “The Short Life of Anne Frank.” The film, which is narrated by Jeremy Irons, provides an excellent introduction to Anne Frank for those who do not know her story or have only a passing awareness of her name. There are also introductions to the rest of Anne Frank’s family, as well as the others who hid in the annex with them. The subjects of World War II, Germany, and Holland are discussed as well but they are fleshed out in much greater detail in the aforementioned winding pathway.
On the walls of The Anne Frank Exhibit visitors will find a large number of artistic pieces from modern day Georgia middle and high school students commenting on Anne Frank and the Holocaust. There are paintings, papier-mache’, and poems. Much of the technical skill is impressive, but what will give you pause is how deeply affected these students are by what they have learned of Anne Frank. There is clearly a grasping to understand the concept of pure evil. Such an atrocity is nearly incomprehensible, and so the students’ visceral reactions follow the same trajectory as adults: disbelief, anger, sadness, and a desire to go back to help a girl who may have been the same age as them when she died.
The Anne Frank Exhibit also has a section on William Alexander Scott, a black American World War II veteran who was among the first soldiers to liberate the Buchenwald concentration comp. Scott’s duties included photographic documentation, and there are pictures of the concentration camp on the day it was liberated. More interesting than the photos are Scott’s own writings on his thoughts and experiences. He was very aware of the irony of a black American soldier in the 1940’s liberating Jews who were being persecuted because of their religion. Most chilling is his recollection of the few miles before he reached Buchenwald. He had heard tales of concentration camps and he thought they were surely exaggerated. After Scott reached the camp, he saw sights worse than anything he could have imagined. He noted that even slaves would have not endured such horrors.
The Anne Frank Exhibit is open Tuesday-Thursday: 10am-4pm, Friday: 10am-2pm, Saturday-Sunday: 12pm-4pm. They are closed on Monday. There is no charge, but donations are greatly appreciated. The phone number is 770-206-1558.
The Exhibit is not fun or mindless entertainment, but if you want to learn and try to understand a monumentally scarred piece of modern history, it provides true excellence.