Anne Frank exhibition opens in Dunedin

An exhibition on the life of holocaust victim Anne Frank has opened in Dunedin, having been brought to the city by someone who was a teenager during the Nazi occupation of Holland.

Boyd Klap (92) immigrated to New Zealand after World War 2, spending some time in Dunedin before moving to Wellington, and remembers the persecution of the Jews as if it were yesterday.

Mr Klap is the chairman of  Anne Frank New Zealand, an organisation which brought to the country an exhibition created by the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam.

"I was a young teenager in Holland during the Second World War. I experienced the horrors of the Nazis, I could see Jews being deported - they left the city and never came back.

"So all my life that stuck with me - what democracy is, what discrimination is - and I felt when I was asked to be involved with Anne Frank I thought, "Yes, I think I can make a commitment to that.""

Boyd Klap immigrated to New Zealand after World War 2, spending some time in Dunedin before...
Boyd Klap immigrated to New Zealand after World War 2, spending some time in Dunedin before moving to Wellington. Photo: The South Today
On display at Otago Girls' High School, the exhibition tells the story of how Anne Frank and her family moved from Germany to neighbouring Holland to escape Nazi persecution, but following the German invasion of The Netherlands in May 1940, they encountered growing discrimination once again.

Among the displays is a gold-coloured Star Of David, which all Jews were made to wear to identify themselves in public.

"Not long after the Germans occupied Holland they started to discriminate against the Jews, they had to wear the Star Of David, they had to report, they were not allowed to be in public parks.

"Then they weren't allowed to be in normal schools."

To try and save themselves, Anne Frank and her family went into hiding and she eventually wrote the diary which would later become famous.

Her family were eventually caught and sent away to the concentration camps.

Anne was one of about 1.5 million children killed by the Nazis.

Her father was the only survivor of her immediate family and published Anne's diary after the war.

Klap acknowledged many Dutch citizens stood by while the Jews were rounded up and sent by freight train to the concentration camps.

"There was a famous philosopher who made the statement "Bad things happen when good people do nothing".

"And when I look at the situation in Holland, most people would have hated what was happening.

"At the extreme end you have the collaborator, and at the other end you have the people that were prepared to give their lives.

"But it is sometimes not easy to know what is right of wrong, because it isn't always black and white.

"For instance the mayors of the cities, some resigned immediately when the Germans came, because they were not wanting to co-operate, but others stayed on because they were able to mix with German officers and found out things and save people's lives."

The Anne Frank exhibition is on display at Otago Girls' High School.  Photo: The South Today
The Anne Frank exhibition is on display at Otago Girls' High School. Photo: The South Today
Klap said when his mother-in-law's Jewish neighbours were taken away to the concentration camps, she gave them food and drink for their journey.

"They were out in the street, and the truck was there to take them away, she offered to take the two boys and look after them until after the war.

"But Sacha - the mother - said "No, No, I want to keep my kids with me".

"They didn't realise they were all going to be killed.

"My mother-in-law had a thermos and and some food, so Sacha took her ring off and give it to my mother-in-law.

"And my mother-in-law wore that ring all her life until she died, then my wife wore that ring all her life until she died and now my daughter is wearing that ring".

Education manager at the New Zealand Holocaust Centre Lizzy Eaves says despite Anne Frank's tragic story, it does have a positive message to young people.

"We've had a lot of students in tears, but it inspires students as well".

To see 

The Anne Frank exhibition is on display at Otago Girls' High School for the next month and open to the general public during the school holidays.

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