To commemorate the 60th anniversary of World War II's end and Anne Frank's all-too-early demise, May 2005 has been named Anne Frank Month in the Quad Cities, and the Scott County Regional Authority is currently sponsoring the community-wide project Beyond the Holocaust: Lessons for Today, organized by the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities, with the Riverboat Development Authority acting as presenting sponsor. The project, which began nearly one year ago with cooperation from local art, education, and business communities, will showcase 15 community events over a three-month period, the cornerstone of which is the exhibit Anne Frank: A History for Today, hosted by Davenport's Putnam Museum, and toured by the Anne Frank Center in New York City.
From Friday, April 29, through Monday, May 30, Putnam visitors will have the chance to explore Anne Frank's experiences within the context of the Holocaust, as presented through narrative text, photographic reproductions, historical artifacts, and biographical testimony. This state-of-the-art exhibit will also feature a computer-interactive tour of Anne Frank's house, a video presentation on her life, and a great many unique items on display, including first editions of The Diary of Anne Frank, Dutch resistance lithographs, an authentic Star of David worn by Jews in the concentration camps, and illustrated books by local school children, re-telling their experiences meeting Holocaust survivors.
The event promises record-setting attendance at the Putnam, with more than 10,100 school children already set to visit the exhibit over the next five weeks. (Previously, the largest advance visitation for a Putnam event was in May of 2002, with the opening of the museum's IMAX theatre.) More than 200 school groups are scheduled to attend, most of them sixth- through eighth-graders, in field trips designed to broaden their classroom appreciation and understanding of The Diary of Anne Frank.
Many students will be active participants in this community project, as well, as the Putnam, in conjunction with Anne Frank: A History for Today, is concurrently presenting the Beyond Anne Frank Student Art Exhibition, in which Quad Cities-area students in grades six through 12 have expressed their feelings on the theme of tolerance through two-dimensional artwork.
In addition to Anne Frank: A History for Today and the student art exhibition, numerous other community events will be presented in tandem with Beyond the Holocaust. Quad Citians will be witness to a great many dramatic performances over the next three months, including: I Am a Person, an exploration of the groups affected by the Holocaust (Saturdays and Sundays, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m., at the Putnam); The Sparks Fly Upward, a musical drama work-in-progress performed by the City Opera Company of the Quad Cities (Saturday, May 7, 8 p.m., in the Moline High School auditorium); And Then They Came for Me, a multimedia play performed by the New Ground Theatre (June 2 through 5 at the Nighswander Theatre at the Annie Wittenmeyer complex); and The Corrie ten Boom Reenactment, featuring actress Susan Sandager in a one-woman production based on the memoirs of a Christian woman who watched the atrocities visited upon her Jewish neighbors (at the Putnam from May 19 through May 22).
Beyond the realm of dramatic presentation, the Beyond the Holocaust project will also feature: the Putnam's The Holocaust Recital, performed by faculty members of Augustana College; a visit by Fern Schumer Chapman, author of Motherland: Beyond the Holocaust - A Daughter's Journey to Reclaim the Past; My Memories of You: The Music of "The Pianist," featuring the compositions of Holocaust survivor (and protagonist of Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning 2002 film) Wladyslaw Szpilman, as performed by The Capri Sisters; and numerous other events in the fields of art, dance, literature, and film.
Allan Ross, the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities, said he hopes that the Anne Frank: A History for Today exhibit stands as a way "to counter prejudice, racism, and intolerance," and expressed gratitude for his organization's inclusion in this special project: "We are honored that the Anne Frank Center USA, Inc., has graciously agreed to loan these priceless artifacts to us so we can share them with the Quad Cities."
Yet Ross, echoing the sentiments of what are sure to be thousands of others in the area, reserved his strongest gratitude for the Beyond the Holocaust: A History for Today project itself, and the numerous individuals and organizations that have made this possibility a reality. "Every group that got involved," Ross said, "felt passionate about supporting the project and believed that through these events we can open a dialogue among all faiths and races and work together for a very important cause."