Celebrities have joined an innovative campaign to mark the 70th anniversary of Anne Frank’s death at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Comedian Eddie Izzard and Bond actress Naomie Harris are among those taking part in the Anne Frank Trust’s Not Silent project, which calls on people to upload a video of themselves reading minute-long extracts from Anne Frank’s famous diary with the hashtag #notsilent.
The readings would take the place of the traditional minute’s silence.
Anne Frank Trust co-founder Gillian Walnes explained: “Of all people, Anne does not deserve for us to be silent. She would not be silent, and her words have resonated for the last 70 years.
“We need to give young people a voice, so we thought it was more fitting to mark this 70-year anniversary by encouraging people to speak out.”
At the campaign launch this week, Holocaust survivor Freda Wineman, who met Anne at Bergen-Belsen, described her as “exceptionally mature for such a young girl. The connections in her book are so clever. She thought women should have more rights; in 1944 people didn’t think like that. She was a deep thinker”.
She said it was important for children to read the diary. “By reading it they can understand what happened, and how lucky they are, how easy their lives are,” she said.
Choreographer Arlene Phillips, who is backing the campaign and has recorded her own reading of the diary, spoke emotionally about how the Holocaust was “whispered, never mentioned” by her family when she was growing.
A visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam had brought home to her what living in fear really means, and “makes the bravery and honesty in her diary even more poignant”, she said.
Four young ambassadors for the charity were also present at the event. One of the schoolchildren, 14-year-old Erin Bosworth, said learning about Anne Frank had changed the way she thinks about bullying.
“I joined the programme to learn about her history, but it teaches you street smarts too. It shows you how simple discrimination can easily escalate and turn into something more.
“Especially in school, there’s always teasing, but when I hear discriminatory jokes, it takes me aback and makes me think ‘we have to stop that now’, and I tell people to stop it.”