In 2004, an exhibition in the Anne Frank Museum compared former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Adolf Hitler. The former Soviet dissident, Natan Sharansky, then a Israeli government minister, reacted indignantly , saying the museum was “showing contempt for the memory of the six million who were murdered in the Holocaust.”
In a recent report on xenophobia and racism written by the Anne Frank Foundation, it presented the Arabs’ conflict against Israel from a Palestinian Arab perspective: “There’s a balance between the random suicide attacks by the Palestinians and the fact that Israel isn’t worried about civilian casualties and collective punishment. Israel pushes Palestinians economically in a corner and humiliates them psychologically”.
It’s important to remember though that the Anne Frank Foundation and Museum have little to do with Anne Frank or her family. It’s crazy, I know, but it’s been backed up by court rulings.
Imagine someone refits Mark Twain’s old house into the Twain Museum and fills it with memorabilia from Twain… and then adds a bunch of exhibits claiming that the moon landing was faked.
That sort of thing is doable and does happen from time to time.
The Dutch Anne Frank Foundation uses the Anne Frank name, but it just happens to occupy a historically important house. The actual legal inheritors of the Frank family are the Swiss Fonds which is the real Anne Frank Foundation. Anne Frank’s father helped set up the Anne Frank House, but he meant for the family’s legacy to be protected by the Swiss foundation, not by the Anne Frank House which has become a sort of freelance human rights NGO.
And the Swiss Fonds has won a court case proving that.
In what may prove to be the conclusion to a long and bitter legal battle over control of the legacy of Anne Frank, a district court in Amsterdam on Wednesday ordered the Anne Frank House to return a collection of archives to a foundation in Switzerland.
The Anne Frank Fonds, based in Basel, Switzerland, sued in 2011 for the immediate return of some 10,000 documents and photographs linked to Anne and her father, Otto Frank. The foundation, which manages the copyrights of Anne’s diary, had lent the documents in 2007 to the Frank House, a museum and research center in Amsterdam.
While the Fonds has said that several considerations, including taxes, drove the request for the archives’ return, it has also announced its participation in the founding of a Frank Family Center in Frankfurt, where it now intends to keep the archival collection. It has accused the House of restricting access to the archives and presenting Anne, who died at 15 in a concentration camp, as a sort of distorted and decontextualized child saint.
The real Anne Frank Foundation in Switzerland had some fairly sharp words for the Dutch museum’s attempt at seizing the documents.
“In the 1940s, the Frank family had its possessions seized by the Germans and their accomplices – now a Dutch institution is trying again to carry out a seizure,” Yves Kugelmann told the Dutch newspaper, De Volkskrant.
Some considered that statement over the top, but it’s clear that Anne Frank Foundation has gone to some very ugly places. The backgrounds of its managing director, Garance Reus-Deelder and Roland Leopold, its executive director, are instructive.
Deelder was a campaigns manager for Amnesty International and Ronald Leopold came out of the Pensions and Benefits Council. The Anne Frank House and Foundation are just another human rights org to them.