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Anne Frank: A History for Today
GSU Museum exhibit displays Holocaust through victims eyes
Georgia Southern University sophomore Jocelyn Baugh, 19, takes a group of fifth graders from Carver Elementary School in Richmond Hill on a tour of the Anne Frank exhibit at the Georgia Southern University Museum last Monday.
Author's perspective on Anne Frank exhibit

      I sat in on the documentary with a number of people fully intending to interview them when the film was complete. I was surprised how moving it was. As a father myself, I guess watching another father talk about losing a child and how he never really knew the depth of that child particularly hit home.
      After watching the movie, I noticed the other people walking out in silence, as if leaving a funeral or departing a Good Friday service. I suppose from a journalistic standpoint, I should have "acted professionally" and asked people how they felt about what they had seen - gotten their reaction to the movie.
      But I didn't have to ask. It was completely obvious they were deeply impacted by the film.
      Was it the horrible images of the Holocaust, the shocking intensity of Nazi hatred or perhaps stabbing sympathy for Otto Frank, Anne's father and sole survivor of the annex, who lost his wife, his children and his friends? I don't know. I'm not sure it matters. Each person touched by the exhibit means we've collectively moved one step closer to the time when an atrocity like the Holocaust never happens again - or is ever forgotten.

Phil Boyum


     The Holocaust during World War II was possibly the single most horrific undertaking by a Western government in the 20th Century with its most famous victim a teenage German Jew who wanted nothing more than to become a famous journalist.
      The Georgia Southern Museum is hosting an exhibit entitled "Anne Frank: A History for Today" in cooperation with the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. Viewable in a series of informational panels, the exhibit explores the life histories of the Frank family and the other occupants of the Secret Annex where Anne and seven other people hid from the Nazis for more than two years. The panels also show the events that lead up to World War II, including the rise of Adolf Hilter, the well orchestrated killing of Jews, Gypsies and the disabled and the recurrent nature of prejudice and violence.
      Brent Tharp, director of the GSU Museum, said scores of school children will pass through the museum and be exposed to the subject for the first time.
      "We've been booked every weekday in November with area schools coming in. We've obviously hit a real chord," Tharp said. "(The Holocaust) is an issue that they struggle with finding ways to deal with difficult material in the classroom, but it's an important part of the curriculum. It's a really unique collection of photography, some of which hasn't been seen before."
      Joshua Cooper and Eve Stanley team teach fifth graders at George Washington Carver Elementary in Richmond Hill. They used a trip to the Anne Frank exhibit as a pre-cursor to a World War II segment in Social Studies, which will start in a couple weeks, and to prepare for reading the "Diary of Anne Frank."
      "Some of them had a tough time with it. Of course kids have a lot of questions about death," Stanley said. "They thought it was sad and were very concerned about Anne Frank and the other kids their own age. I think they could relate to the kids in the pictures as Anne Frank was so close in age to them. But they were all able to handle it."
      "They seemed to be pretty intrigued and it definitely sparked their interest. It made it easy for me to open up the World War II time frame study. They're very interested now," Cooper said. "They are very curious and want to know more."
      Cooper said even three or four days after the trip to the museum, the kids are still asking him questions about the Holocaust and are very excited and motivated to start the World War II segment.
      Amy Hebel is in the GSU honors program and a tour guide for the Anne Frank exhibit. She said the children are very inquisitive about the exhibit and are genuinely impacted by the images they see.
      "They've never been introduced to the Holocaust before so they have questions like, ‘Why does someone want to kill someone else?' or ‘Why is he so mean?' or ‘Why did this happen?'" Hebel said. "It's really hard to answer those because I don't even really know the answer. But it's really rewarding.
      "They are really inquisitive and they're really serious and they really take it with a lot of maturity. It's a hard subject to handle - understandably so," Hebel said. "I try to introduce it with as much grace and kindness as I can."
      Traveling with the Anne Frank exhibit are four pieces from the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust headquartered in Decatur, Ga. On the back wall is the Student Art Gallery created by students for the commission's annual art and writing contest. Sitting on a school desk is an interactive program on a laptop that allows users to virtually go inside the annex, look at the streets, the buildings, and the rooms as well as see pictures from today and the past.
      A compelling video documentary called "The Short Life of Anne Frank" is shown just down the hall. Narrated by Jeremy Irons, it contains a moving interview with Anne's father, Otto Frank, and the only known footage of Anne herself.
      The final piece, "Witness to the Holocaust: William A. Scott III at Buchenwald," adds a bit of local flavor to the exhibit. Born in Atlanta, Scott was a World War II photojournalist with a segregated all black Engineer Battalion who witnessed and recorded the liberation of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp with his photography. The words of his own reaction to the horrific sights are printed on the panels.
      "It's a nice Georgia connection to this story," Tharp said.
      The exhibits will be on display at the museum throughout the month of November, ending on Dec. 3. Admission is free to the general public, but a $2 donation is suggested for non-museum members.

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