The Anne Frank Exhibition

JVL Introduction

There is an Anne Frank traveling exhibition at Swiss Cottage Library, running for one more week. We invited Fran Rifkin, theatre director and workshop facilitator in political and community theatre, to give us a brief account.

The Anne Frank Exhibition, running at Swiss Cottage Library until 20th May, is notable in that it locates the record of Anne’s life and death within the context of the history of genocides since that time and sets those histories against Anne’s background and those of the Roma, Homosexuals, Disabled and others slaughtered by the Nazis.

This is a well-made exhibition. It communicates lucidly, I think, to visitors, especially school groups, students and others, who may know little or nothing of World War Two, the Nazis and the holocaust. It is strongly contextualised, internationally and post-war. It is also deep enough to provide further detail for those who already know more : it is moving but not sentimental or intimidating.

There are two main rooms: the first provides an account, viewed against the Nazis’ invasion of Europe, specifically the Netherlands, and of the propaganda and intimidation used to force cooperation and collusion.

Through photos from the time and texts from Anne’s and her father, Otto’s, diaries, and the display of objects such as the “yellow star” and bureaucratic, handwritten, arrest records, the eventual arrest and removal of the family is described. Also the extreme courage of the people who gave them food, shelter and protection. In this space, close to the section on Hitler’s dictatorship, a silent video highlights the horrors of some of the holocausts around the world since World War II.

Anne’s courage and optimism are moving . She wanted to become a great writer and edited and rewrote her diaries with that in mind. They contain the highly personal thoughts of a growing young woman (not included in the exhibition) and reflections on and accounts of her daily life including themes around close relationships in the family, with father, mother, sister and boyfriend. This section is centred around a reproduction of her room, without furniture, but with the pictures she stuck to the walls, a facsimile of the diary and a re-creation of the window onto which is projected a video showing the views from the room which she describes in her diary – voiced by an actor. Her surviving father’s and relatives’ lives are also covered, and their roles in extending others’ knowledge in the post-war period.

The second room, ‘Anne Frank and You’, addresses present day prejudices. It covers many global issues of genocide. It raises questions, for example: Who are you?; Hate You: why racism?; Who Cares?; Danger and Risk; Wanna Fight?; Is conflict always bad? These are illustrated and debated visually and with text and examples of how people or groups are tackling prejudice and racism. Visitors are invited to offer ideas and comments.

Overall, it offers a challenging representation of the “Never Again!” message of the UN after the war as illustrated by the international failure, if not reluctance, to prevent further hatred-driven destruction.

Frances Rifkin
Assisted by Bernard Miller

Here is the Eventbrite invitation to schools to visit the exhibition


We invite primary and secondary school groups to attend our thought provoking exhibition Anne Frank + You which takes a look at Anne Frank’s life and diary in parallel with the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust. The exhibition also takes a look at the related themes of racism, conflict, identity and resistance with links to contemporary issues in Britain today.

School groups will be given an immersive experience, including a guided tour, additional context and knowledge about the themes in the exhibition, and a chance to reflect.

The exhibition links to the History, English, and Religious Studies curricula, as well as contributing to young people’s spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development.

The exhibition includes:

  • A look at Anne’s childhood, set against the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust
  • An almost life size replica of Anne’s room in the secret annexe
  • The genocide tunnel with powerful film footage
  • The Anne Frank photo album, with photos of Anne and her sister Margot
  • Replica artefacts from Anne’s life and the Holocaust
  • Contemporary stories exploring how the issues that affected Anne are still relevant today

We hope that you have an informative, meaningful and memorable visit.

This exhibition is brought to Swiss Cottage by the generosity of the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Camden Council.