Wednesday 21 April 2021

Anne Frank foundation says train name plan evokes WWII persecutions

Anne Frank at school in 1940. Photo: Collectie Anne Frank Stichting Amsterdam via Wikimedia Commons

Amsterdam’s Anne Frank Foundation says it is not happy with reports that German state railway firm Deutsche Bahn is considering naming a new high speed train after Anne Frank.

The name of Anne Frank name has been put forward by a jury set up to select names for the new trains as a symbol of tolerance and peaceful coexistence with other cultures.

‘The proposed naming has caused controversy, and we understand that,’ the foundation said in a statement. ‘The combination of Anne Frank and a train evokes associations with the persecution of the Jews and the deportations during the Second World War.

‘The combination is painful for the people who experienced these deportations, and causes fresh pain to those who still bear the consequences of those times within them.’

Thousands of Jews, including the Frank family, were taken to concentration camps by train.

The foundation said that initiatives such as this are usually taken with good intentions.

‘Anne Frank has great symbolic power, and this has led to a multitude of manifestations, such as the naming of streets, schools and parks, but also Halloween costumes and expressions of antisemitism in the world of football,’ the foundation said, referring to two recent controversies.

‘This phenomenon is expected to only become stronger and more varied in the coming years. The significance of Anne Frank will increasingly have a contemporary rather than a historical basis.’

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