From Desperation to Inspiration:
The 70th Anniversary of the Anne Frank Diary

10:30 a.m.– 12:30 p.m.
Thursday, 9 November 2017

United Nations, New York


Registration for this event is now closed.

Nearly 80 years ago on 9 and 10 November 1938, a two-day surge of violence against Jewish people, their homes, businesses and synagogues took place throughout Nazi Germany and areas under German control. The brutal episode became known as the Kristallnacht, or ”Broken Glass” pogrom, named for the shards of shattered glass that littered the streets after the devastation.

Four years later, during the Second World War, a young Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam began transferring her fears and feelings onto paper. Her poignant writings were published by her father 70 years ago in 1947 as the Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Anne wrote her diary between 1942 and 1944 while hiding in a secret attic with her family, until she was deported to Auschwitz Birkenau, the German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945) and eventually to Bergen-Belsen, where she died at age 15 in 1945.

To observe the Kristallnacht pogrom and the seventieth anniversary of the book’s publication, the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, New York, and Facing History and Ourselves, New York, are joining forces to deliver a two-hour educational programme for 500 students on 9 November.  The programme will help students learn about the Frank family’s attempts to find a safe haven as refugees, Anne’s life and experiences while living in hiding and how she created a diary that lives on as a legacy and inspiration for young people today. 

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect will begin the day’s first student activity by screening a 28-minute film, Short Life of Anne Frank, to introduce students to Anne’s life. The film will be followed by a brief discussion on Anne and the emotions and experiences she passed through while in hiding. While expressing hopelessness and desperation, the young Anne never completely lost her faith in humanity. Students, chosen by their schools in advance, will read quotes from Anne’s diary and interact and learn through a “turn and talk” activity.

Please note that the film includes a few graphic scenes of war and the suffering of victims, and for this reason we recommend students attending should be age 15 years and older.

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme will lead the second student activity with a discussion meant to help students learn about the refugee crisis today and its impact by reading excerpts from other writers who were desperate to escape persecution. To prepare for the event, students will be asked to research brief biographies about the lives of four authors who were affected by discrimination and conflict: Mary Berg of Warsaw, Poland; Peter Ginz of Prague, Czechoslovakia ; Zlata Filipovic of Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina; and Immaculée Ilibagizi of Mataba, Rwanda. During the event, students will discuss why the writings are meaningful or inspirational to them.

The discussion will be followed with the showing of two brief animated films produced by the United Nations Education Outreach Section that outline the stories of two young refugees today: Yusra Mardini from Syria and Ishak from Myanmar.
Facing History and Ourselves will begin the third student activity by briefly honouring the memory of the people whose lives were uprooted by the Nazi assault on the Jewish community during Kristallnacht in November 1938. Through a brief conversation entitled, “Repairing the World – Our Obligation Toward the ‘Other’,” Facing History will ask students to think about how they can contribute to their communities and help repair the world by becoming more aware of the humanity of today’s refugees. Drawing on an encounter with a ten-year-old Syrian boy, Facing History will lead students in a discussion about how refugees have been depicted and how students can begin to see them not as “Others”, but as fellow human beings in need of compassion and assistance.


We look forward to welcoming you to the United Nations!