Several hundred people gathered at a church in Frankfurt, the city of Anne Frank’s birth, on the occasion of the teenage diarist’s 90th birthday.
The event, organised at the iconic St. Paul’s Church by the municipality of the German city and the Basel-based Anne Frank Foundation, featured an address by philosopher Agnes Heller, a Hungarian-Jewish Holocaust survivor who was born one month before Frank.
After surviving the Nazi death machine, Heller was inspired as a young woman when she read Anne Frank’s “Diary of a Young Girl.” The book chronicles Anne’s two-year stay at a secret annex in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam with her family and several other Jews. The family was caught in 1944 and sent to death camps. Only Anne’s father, Otto, survived.
“She was like one of the relatives and friends I lost, kids killed by the Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross,” Heller said. “Her story belonged to all of us.”
Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of UNESCO, the United Nations agency for education and heritage, in her speech touched on an ongoing debate concerning Anne Frank’s legacy and whether it should be taught as a specifically Jewish story or a universal one.
The diary “is an intimate story of a teenager and that of the Shoah,” said Azoulay.