University of South Carolina to Open First US Anne Frank House: ‘She Was One of Six Million’
The University of South Carolina plans to build the first Anne Frank Center in North America, the school announced on Monday, connecting students and the wider community with the heroic story of the Jewish teenage diarist and Holocaust victim.
The 1,060 square foot center will feature World War II artifacts, as well as replicas of the sliding bookcase behind which Anne’s family hid inside the secret annex of Prinsengracht 263, and of the desk where she wrote the reflections that later became “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.”
“We would like every student here to see visually what they’ve read in history books, and by that strike a match, light a candle, for a more peaceful and just world,” said USC Interim President Harris Pastides at a Tuesday ceremony announcing the opening, local FOX57 news reported.
He also noted plans to start a traveling exhibit that would tour all 50 US states, reaching thousands of people who may never have the chance to visit Amsterdam’s famed Anne Frank House or its existing partner centers in London, Buenos Aires and Berlin.
USC junior Mary McElveen spoke of her hope to help make the area a more welcoming place for Jewish students like herself.
“We are surrounded by communities that don’t really get to be educated on the Holocaust,” McElveen said at the event. “I’ve met kids that have never seen a Jewish person before, that have never heard Anne Frank’s name before, so having this here is really amazing.”
Center Director Doyle Stevick said Anne’s own telling of her life has made her the best known child “in any school system in the world.”
“Part of what we have to do is show her and her family, her life history, and help people understand that she was one of six million people and of 1.5 million children who were murdered,” Doyle Stevick told the Post and Courier.
“She’s really the only child that you get to know in her own voice, in depth,” he said. “That ability to relate provides us that human connection to establish our universal humanity.”
The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam loaned USC most of the items — ranging from Nazi propaganda magazines to government-issued ration cards — that visitors will see when the Center opens for viewing on September 15.
They will have the option of touring it for free, or paying a voluntary donation at the door.
Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, praised their faculty partners at USC as “excellent Holocaust scholars and educators who share our mission,” which helped secure the choice of the Columbia, South Carolina-based public university for the initiative.