Anne's diary marks 50th anniversary

28th April 1995 at 01:00
Next week sees the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Holland from German occupation. More than any historical fragment, The Diary of Anne Frank has provoked sympathy for the plight of the wartime Dutch and their Jewish population.

The book remains, for many children, their first awareness of the Holocaust. This week saw a memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral for Anne and other genocide victims.

On May 4, the Anne Frank Educational Trust opens a major exhibition at the RAF Museum in Hendon, north London. And on May 6, the BBC is to screen the first feature-length documentary of Anne Frank's life.

Her diary occupies a central role in schools. It has an obvious place in history lessons: the Second World War is prescribed at key stage three (age 11-14) of the national curriculum.

But Gillian Walnes, executive director of the Anne Frank Educational Trust, says the book has more to offer than a straight documentary insight. She helps to provide material for teachers across the arts curriculum: religious education and English in particular.

The diary makes a regular appearance on the lists of set texts for GCSE English. Robert Davison is using the work as a key stage 4 course book at Winchmore School in North London. "As a literary work it stands on its own. Considering that it's written by a girl of 13-14, the literary style is incredible."

He adds that the diary is particularly important as a human insight into an otherwise incomprehensible level of destruction. "You can't take the idea of six million in; but you can fall in love with this one child. This is a book every child ought to read."

The exhibition at Hendon is free, but there is a charge for entry to the RAF Museum which can be contacted on 0181 200 1763. On May 8, VE day, the museum will stage a specially commissioned play Peace and the Future. A limited number of tickets is available from the Anne Frank Educational Trust, tel 0181 950 6476. Anne Frank Remembered will be screened on BBC 2 at 8.55pm on May 6.

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