Anne Frank animated film attacked for ‘colonising’ memory of the Shoah

The film draws comparisons between the plight of the Holocaust victim and undocumented immigrants


A cartoon film that explores the life of Holocaust victim Anne Frank alongside a twenty-first-century protagonist has been accused of "colonising" and “appropriating” the memory of the Shoah. 

The film “Where Is Anne Frank”, was released in 2021 by Israeli director Ari Folman, himself the son of Holocaust survivors, but a tweet from an Australian distribution firm promoting it has recently prompted backlash online.

The docudrama explores Anne Frank's posthumously published "The Diary of a Young Girl" through the eyes of Kitty, the imaginary girl to whom Ms Frank addressed her diary entries.

In the magic realist film, Kitty "comes to life in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

“Her memories are reawakened by reading the diary, believing that if she’s alive, Anne must be alive as well, she sets out on a quest to find Anne.

"We follow Kitty as she travels across Europe and back to Anne Frank’s time, armed with the precious book, in search of her beloved friend,” according to its section on the distribution company Madman Entertainment's website.

At one point in the film, Kitty’s character accuses the world of deifying Anne and misrepresenting her message of helping and saving people. 

She subsequently threatens to burn Anne's diary if the government refuses to shelter a group of undocumented immigrants.

However Mr Folman has previously told the JC that he did not intend to make comparisons between the immigration debate in Europe and the Shoah, stating: “I don’t see any similarities and I don’t think there’s any parallel in the movie between the Holocaust and the refugee crisis.

"First, for a very simple reason, those 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered in the camps didn’t have the luck and chance to become refugees, because no one tried to save them.

"Although we know today, that in London and Washington by 1943, they knew very well about the camps and no one saved them, so they were not lucky to be refugees in Europe, so I don’t see any comparison in the movie and think those who see the parallels, it’s only in their eyes," the Academy Award-nominated director went on.

Labour Friends of Israel Chair Alex Hearn wrote via Twitter: “Looks like more appropriation of the Holocaust. 

“This time US social issues colonise the genocide of Jews Anne Frank’s legacy has already been horribly misused. This appears to be just another chapter in the roll call of shame.”

Another user remarked: “As a Jewish person, I’m a bit on the fence about this film. It’s important to remember history, so that when we see history repeating itself we know to stop it. 

“From the trailer alone it seems like that’s the message it’s trying to spread. However, in the trailer, it says ‘What remains of Anne Frank’s story?’ As if there aren’t Holocaust survivors alive today.”

“Remember when Anne Frank literally wrote about the uniqueness of antisemitism as a form of oppression and everyone was just like 'this could’ve happened to anyone' no it couldn’t and she herself knew that,” a further user complained.

Mr Folman also collaborated with illustrator David Polonsky on the 2019 graphic novel version of the famous diary.

It was adapted from the teenager’s unabridged journal, which contains sexual references and mentions of homosexuality, prompting controversy in several US schools where it was removed from classrooms following parent protests.

Anne Frank is one of the best-known Holocaust victims due to the posthumous publication of her diary which documented her life hiding from Nazi persecution in an Amsterdam annex.

The Frank family was arrested after Nazi collaborator police officers Gezinus Gringhuis and Willem Grootendorst raided their hidden living quarters in August 1944.

They were transported to the Westerbork transit camp in the eastern province of Drenthe.

Anne Frank died of typhus in March 1945 in Bergen-Belsen, aged just 16. Her 19-year-old sister Margot died several weeks prior in the same camp. 

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