Who selects the speakers and why do they focus mostly on violence? Are there guidelines for what is appropriate and what is not when it comes to children? Why mess up children’s minds with horrors of violence? Anne Frank’s diary had been exploited and overused. No offence, but reliving a tragedy is not beneficial for anyone’s mind, especially children’s.
Auntie’s answer: This question was prompted by the news of the upcoming visit of Eva Schloss, a Holocaust survivor who was Anne Frank’s childhood friend, who will be speaking at a free event here in March (see Holocaust survivor to share memories of Anne Frank).
I will start with the first part of your query because I have a lot to say about the rest of your questions and comments. People in Cayman are lucky that our tiny home can attract a wide range of interesting individuals, many of them famous, to talk at various events, seminars and conferences, some private but others open to the public.
I cannot comment on why speakers are chosen; that is up to the organisers of all the different events. I am sure, though, that they look for dynamic, interesting, relevant people to talk. I also do not agree that the speakers “focus mostly on violence”. Here are a few of the guests who have spoken at various events in Cayman over the years: Former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, comedian Jay Leno, and actors Al Pacino and Jamie Lee Curtis. And, yes, there have also been a former US Navy SEAL and a kidnapping victim who have addressed audiences here.
I will add that most of those events were not open to children; they were conferences or functions for adults, so I do not think any guidelines for speakers are necessary. There would not be any “children’s minds” present to “mess up”.
Which leads me to your assessment of the benefits, or lack thereof, of “reliving a tragedy”, followed by you calling Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl “exploited and overused”.
Well, you may have said “no offence”, but I happen to take great offence at your words.
Perhaps dwelling on a personal tragedy that affects one’s ability to get on with his or her life is not beneficial; I will grant you that.
But we are talking about Anne Frank and the Holocaust. We are talking about the murder of 6 million Jews plus millions more based on their ethnicity and religion, among other classifications. We are talking about being forced into concentration camps and facing horrors that those of us who did not experience it can barely understand.
This is something we definitely need to relive. There is a quote that I think most people would be familiar with: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And, that could not be more appropriate in the context of the Holocaust.
Or to put it simply, as seen on a handmade sign put up by prisoners after the Buchenwald concentration camp had been liberated by US forces, and a rallying cry forever after: “Never again”.
Having said all that, and despite the tragedy of Anne Frank and Eva Schloss’ own personal unimaginable nightmare of surviving life in a concentration camp, she spreads a message of hope, an ultimately uplifting affirmation of life. The woman is 87 years old, yet travels the world to tell her story of incredible resilience in the face of adversity.
By the way, I want you also to appreciate that these stories are universal. Nelson Mandela spoke of how he and some of his fellow prisoners at Robben Island read The Diary of a Young Girl for inspiration.
But to make sure you completely understand what I am saying: Anne Frank’s diary was, is and will always be an important chronicle of a time that must never be forgotten, which is why schools must continue to keep it on their reading lists for our children (yes, children) to read.
Category: Ask Auntie