Jewish Journal

A step back in time to Anne Frank’s hiding place

by Celia Soudry

Posted on Nov. 8, 2007 at 7:00 pm

A replica of the dining room (above) and bookcase/door (below) in the Frank's hiding space in Amsterdam.

A replica of the dining room (above) and bookcase/door (below) in the Frank's hiding space in Amsterdam.

To experience the intense claustrophobia in which Anne Frank's family lived while hiding from the Nazis, just go to the Celebration of Books at American Jewish University this Sunday. No, not just because of the swarming crowds that will no doubt be filling the university's halls, hoping to meet the many celebrity authors.

You really can relive the Franks' experience in a life-sized recreation of the two-room space in Amsterdam in which Anne, along with her parents, older sister and Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist and acquaintance of the Franks, lived from 1942-1944.

Posted on the walls of the exhibit, which was originally created in 2005 for the Jewish book fair in San Diego, visitors will find excerpts from Anne's diary. Nomi Levy, an educator at Beth Israel and Soille Hebrew day school in San Diego, created the accompanying 25-minute DVD, which chronicles the life of the Franks. The planning for the exhibit took about six months, Levy said, making it mobile was the difficult part.

Items featured include a moving bookcase in the living room, which provided secret access to Anne Frank's bedroom.

"Kids love to stay in there, especially after seeing the video on how the Franks ended up there," Levy said.

The creators worked hard to make it accurate, said Jackie Gmach, La Jolla's Lawrence Jewish Community Center program coordinator. "We really tried to find things that closely matched Anne Frank's clothing and diary," she said.

Indeed, when Cornelius Scjuick, a friend of Otto Frank, and founder of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam visited the San Diego showing, he said that the recreation, along with the informational DVD, were exceptional, Gmach said.

The replica not only provides a glimpse into the life of a Jewish family hiding from the Nazis, it also has prompted some Holocaust survivors to share their untold stories, Gmach said, citing a rare happening at Temple Emanuel in San Diego.

Amid a crowd of 150 people, one survivor spoke of her escape from the concentration camps. After describing a man who saved her from death, a figure in the crowd arose, sharing the same physical characteristics as the man she described and pronounced that he was the man who saved her.

"The exhibit brings about situations like this," Gmach said.

replica of bookcase/door of the frank's hiding place in Amsterdam
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