Guest Column

'Diary of Anne Frank' has meaning today

Anne Frank by Michelle Wooton, Woodinville
Bellevue Christian High School Class of '96

This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II and the liberation of all the Nazi concentration camps, ending one of the most tragic times in the history of this century and the Jewish people.
    Bellevue Christian High School Drama Department invites you all to remember this important anniversary by attending our production of The Diary of Anne Frank.
    Based on the book Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, this play effectively brings to life the sensitivity, courage, frustrations, spirit and resilience of a 13-year old Jewish girl, her family, and the people who risked their lives in hiding them during the Holocaust.
    Immediatly following the play, the cast will be joined by actual concentration camp survivors or liberators for a question-and-answer period with the audience. We also have the exciting and historical honor to have Miep Gies, the woman who hid Anne and her family and saved the diary of Anne for Otto Frank, to speak after our Nov. 18, 2 p.m. performance.
    Mrs. Gies is 86 years old and currently lives in Amsterdam. The Consulate of the Dutch Embassy will be bringing her to our school with Jewish and Holocaust survivors of Seattle and the Eastside. She will be in Seattle for the opening of a two-month art exhibit of "Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945."
    There will also be a reception in her honor from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Bellevue Christian High School, Clyde Hill campus. The public is welcome to attend.
    The Diary of Anne Frank is suitable for audiences of grades 4 and above. Bellevue Christian School is also doing a schoolwide presentation of their artwork and literary work in teaching others about the Holocaust in commemoration of the 50th year anniversary and in response to the Washington State Holocaust Education Bill of 1992, which strongly suggests and advocates teaching students about the Holocaust and its effects.
    I am a veteran actress of our high school productions. I am a senior this year and feel very honored to have been cast as Anne. Never before have we reviewed a play or researched its history so much, watching film after film on the Holocaust.
    After watching movies that are too graphic to forget, and after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, I walk onstage for a simple rehearsal and feel I am really Anne. I feel frightened and scared at a world outside us even today, 50 years later, that at times resembles the world of fear Anne lived in.
    I feel as if those were my friends and family that I have seen dying on the screen. There is even one scene where the dialogue contains names of the Frank family's friends that have died...and all I can do is to run the names of my own personal friends through my mind, and suddenly the impact of all of this hits harder than it did five lines before.
    I have had the privilege and honor to meet and talk with actual survivors on a one-to-one basis (through the "Washington State Surviving Generations of the Holocaust" in Seattle) and listen to the horrifying stories about their two and three years of hiding and their times in concentration camps.
    I am serving on the advisory board of "Anne Frank and Friends Coalition" in Seattle and am a member of the Seattle Young People's Project. I am interfacing with the Jewish community and others in their involvment with trying to help eliminate hatred and bigotry that can lead to "ethnic cleansing" that ultimately led to the elimination of 6 million Jews and another 6 million Christians, handicapped, elderly and children during the Holocaust.
    This "cleansing," perhaps not in that magnitude, still exists today, in Bosnia, Sarajevo, Israel. The recent death of Prime Minister Rabin is a reminder to all of us that this kind of violence exists...is real. Just as were the other murdered peacemakers: Martin Luther King, Jr., John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and all the other martyred heroes.
    Anne Frank has a way of touching the lives of those who come close to her. As Anne wrote,"I know it is terrible, having faith...when people are doing such horrible things...but you know what I sometimes think? I think that the world may be going through a phase... It'll pass, maybe not for hundreds of years, but some day...I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart."
    I hope you all feel a little of Anne and her family in the end.