The Anne Frank foundation has responded to plans for a German train named after her
Germans are debating whether it’s right to name a high-speed train after world-famous Holocaust victim Anne Frank.
Frank’s story is one of the first taught in schools when learning about the Holocaust in Germany during the Second World War, and you might recall that the teenager was taken to Auschwitz concentration camp by train in 1944.
The Anne Frank foundation in Amsterdam said: “The combination of Anne Frank and a train evokes associations with the persecution of the Jews and the deportations during the Second World War.”
German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) defended the decision, but said it would take concerns seriously.
A DB spokesman told the BBC Frank is a symbol of tolerance, and represents “peaceful co-existence of different cultures, which is more important than ever in times such as this”.
Her name was chosen by a jury, including two historians, from a shortlist of 25.
A statement on the Anne Frank House website said the decision could be “painful for the people who experienced these deportations”, but noted that DB did not mean to offend.
“We realise 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.
“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,” the website said.
Holocaust victims were often transported to their deaths on Deutsche Reichsbahn trains – the predecessor to DB under Adolf Hitler’s rule – which deported millions of Jewish and other Nazi victims.
Conservative Christian-Social Union party politician Iris Eberl said the decision showed a lack of respect.
In a statement, DB apologised if feelings had been hurt, and said it will “take seriously the concern currently expressed by the public and will hold internal discussions, with the blessing of Jewish organisations”.
Frank penned one of the world’s best-known diaries during her time hiding with her family in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.
She died aged 15, along with her sister, in the Bergen-Belsen death camp in early 1945.