UN turns to social media to raise awareness about Holocaust

Anne Frank's first diary

29 March 2010 – The United Nations launched today a Twitter campaign for students in memory of Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager who died in the Holocaust 65 years ago but whose wartime diary has endured to become one of the world’s most widely read books and teaching tools.

In a joint effort with the Anne Frank Center USA, students are asked to travel back in time and write to Anne through “tweets” – which allow only 140 characters or fewer – as though she could communicate with the world in secret from her family’s hiding spot in Amsterdam.

“This exercise is meant to help young people make a meaningful connection to the Holocaust through the words of a courageous young girl,” said Kimberly Mann, Manager of the Holocaust and the UN Outreach Programme in the Department of Public Information’s Outreach Division.

If young people today were isolated from the world, they would certainly be online using all forms of social media to remain in contact with each other, she added.

Students are asked, “What messages of support would you have sent Anne?” and “What would you have told Anne that you have learned from her life and experience?”

Anne and her family hid for two years in an annex of rooms above her father’s office in Amsterdam before their location was discovered. She was taken to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Nazi Germany, where she died at the age of 15.

Throughout her time in hiding, she kept a journal in which she struggled to make sense of World War II and why the Jewish people were being persecuted. She also shared her personal thoughts about the people she loved, her fear of death and her hopes and dreams.

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart,” reads an excerpt from an entry dated 15 July 1944.

The Twitter campaign will run through 11 April, which will mark Yom Ha Shoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day on the Jewish calendar. The tweets will be posted online and exhibited at the Anne Frank Centre USA in New York.

Each year the Holocaust and the UN Outreach Programme organizes activities and develops information materials in partnership with civil society to raise awareness of the Holocaust and its underlying causes, to help prevent genocide.

Established by a General Assembly resolution in 2006, the programme encourages young people to respect diversity and learn from the lessons of the Holocaust.


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