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'Anne Frank' nursery name change causes anger in Germany

Opening of the exhibition "Anne Frank, a History for Today" at the Westerbork Remembrance Centre in Hooghalen, northeast Netherlands, Friday June 12, 2009.
Opening of the exhibition "Anne Frank, a History for Today" at the Westerbork Remembrance Centre in Hooghalen, northeast Netherlands, Friday June 12, 2009. Copyright BAS CZERWINSKI/AP2009
Copyright BAS CZERWINSKI/AP2009
By Euronews with EFE, AFP
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Organisers of protests because of the incident say that changing the name would be sending a "bad signal" at a time where "antisemitism and right-wing extremism are on the rise".

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The plans of a town in eastern Germany to remove the name 'Anne Frank' from a nursery has been met with protests in the country.

In a statement issued Monday, authorities in Tangerhütte said the idea is part of a series of planned changes that they wanted to illustrate with a new name, but stressed no final decisions have been taken.

The president of the German-Israeli Society of Magdeburg, Tobias Krull, has said that a name change would be the wrong signal at a time of growing antisemitism.

The chairman of the Auschwitz Committee, Christoph Heubner, wrote an open letter to the city in which he said that removing Anne Frank's name was something "that can only cause fears for the future of the culture of remembrance".

Difficult to explain to children

According to a local newspaper, the director of the kindergarten, Linda Schichor, said that Anne Frank's story as a young Jewish victim of the Holocaust was something difficult to convey to children.

According to local media, the head of the kindergarten felt that parents with a migrant background did not understand the name. "We wanted something that had no political connotations", said Schichor.

The city's mayor, Andreas Bröhm, said that if parents and employees wanted other names that should outweigh political considerations.

A regional newspaper had reported that it had been decided to change Anne Frank's name to "Weltendecker" (Discoverers of the World), but Bröhm said that this was not the case.

Bröhm also said that the discussion has nothing to do with the situation in the Middle East and that it had already started at the beginning of the year.

However, the plan to rename the school was criticised by the Auschwitz Committee in particular, with its executive vice-president, Christoph Heubner, describing the arguments put forward as "idiotic" in an open letter to the mayor and kindergarten management.

"If people are prepared to sweep aside their own history so easily, precisely at a time when anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism are on the rise, and if the name Anne Frank is seen as inappropriate in the public arena, we can only be concerned about the culture of remembrance in our country", Heubner said.

Anne Frank's story

Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt into a Jewish family. In 1933, after the Nazis came to power, the family fled to the Netherlands where, after the German invasion, she went into hiding between 1942 and 1944.

During those years, Anne Frank wrote a diary that would later become one of the most widely read books in the world.

Anne Frank died in 1945 in the Bergen-Belsen extermination camp, while her father survived the Holocaust and published his diary after the war. She was considered a symbol of Jewish resistance in the times of Nazi Germany.

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