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History imparts knowledge for today at traveling Anne Frank exhibit

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Visitors young and old were able to learn about the life of Anne Frank and think about how lessons from Europe during World War II can be applied today as the “Anne Frank: A History for Today” traveling exhibit was on display at The Commons at Central Hall from May 2-11.

The Dover-Foxcroft venue was the only exhibit display in New England and it featured 33 panels developed by the Anne Frank House more than a decade ago and sponsored in North America by The Anne Frank Center USA. The panels and two accompanying films tell the story of Frank and her family escaping Nazi Germany for the Netherlands, only to hide out before being captured, as well as a timeline of the war across Europe. Frank’s diary was published posthumously after the end of World War II and has since been read by millions and adapted for film and stage.

“I have had over 300 people and 600 students,” Theresa Makowski of the SeDoMoCha School Organization (SSO), who spearheaded the event, said on the May 10 — the next to last day of the exhibit. She said about 400 of the students are from the SeDoMoCha School and the rest are from Foxcroft Academy and other institutions.

Students came from as far away as Machias, and “I was talking with a visitor from Portland, word really got out,” Makowski said. “Every time I go to the exhibit, even though I have been here for two weeks, I find something new,” she added.

“Some kids were simply amazed the family did not go outside for a year and a half, the sun didn’t touch their skin,” Makowski said as the Frank family hid in an empty storage area at the back of father Otto Frank’s office (to this day no one knows who betrayed the family). “Others were amazed by the horror that happened.”

Makowski said a kindergarten student grabbed her hand asked what one panel image was. Makowski said she tried to explain a mass grave in age-appropriate terms. “They told me ‘this really creeps me out’ and ‘how do we make sure this never happens again?’”

She said she was surprised but pleased with the number of younger children attending. “So many people just have things to share,” Makowski said about either their connections to World War II or those of their parents and grandparents.

“The interaction between generations has been great,” she said.

Many students told Makowski about their reactions to reading about various resistance movements in Nazi-occupied territories. “The resistance, even being a small part, was profound for them,” she said.

A Girl Scout troop toured “Anne Frank: A History for Today” and one member mentioned a how Jewish girl in her class is being made fun of behind her back and the Girl Scout said she did not know how to handle this. “They all sat down together and came up with a plan,” Makowski said.

“We worked really hard with Foxcroft Academy and SeDoMoCha to make this a student-run exhibit,” as student volunteers were present to help inform and assist attendees. “We had about 50 volunteers sign up and 40 of these are students. The kids have just been amazing from learning things to talking with visitors.”

Makowski said the student volunteers are mostly from SeDoMoCha Middle School, representing each of the four grades, with the rest being Foxcroft Academy pupils. She said the eighth-graders recently finished a unit on the Holocaust and the younger students have studied prejudice and persecution.

“The staff at SeDoMoCha has been unbelievably supportive as well,” Makowski said.

She said in addition to the SSO “Anne Frank: A History for Today” had three other sponsors. “The (Dover-Foxcroft) Kiwanis and Thompson Free Library donated money and The Commons at Central Hall donated the space,” she said.

Makowski said she has received follow-up calls thanking her for having the exhibit in town. She said some of the callers said having the student volunteers “really brought an extra element to it.”

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
ANNE FRANK A HISTORY FOR TODAY IN DOVER-FOXCROFT — From May 2-11 the traveling exhibit “Anne Frank: A History for Today” was on display at the event center at The Commons at Central Hall in Dover-Foxcroft. The venue was the only exhibit display in New England of 33 panels developed by the Anne Frank House and sponsored in North America by The Anne Frank Center USA. The panels and two accompanying films tell the story of Frank and her family escaping Nazi Germany for the Netherlands, only to to hide out before being captured, as well as a timeline of the war across Europe. Frank’s diary was published posthumously after the end of World War II and has since been read by millions and adapted for film and stage.

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