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Inner strength in time of war
- Anne Frank show on 400 years of Dutch ties

“I know what I want, I have a goal, I have opinions, I have religion, I have love. If only I can be myself, I’ll be satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inner strength and a great deal of courage!”

These were some thoughts 12-year-old Anne Frank recorded in her diary, while in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam, during World War II. And this is the message that an exhibition, ‘Anne Frank, A History for Today’, hopes to impart. Held in conjunction with the Netherlands consulate in Calcutta and the Dutch embassy, the purpose of the travelling exhibition is to celebrate 400 years of Indo-Dutch relations.

“In fact, Calcutta is particularly influenced by the Dutch, since they arrived in this country in 1602,” says BalKrishna Dalmia, honorary Dutch consul-general. “There was a Dutch settlement in Chinsurah, before it was handed over to the British. And there is no better symbol than Anne Frank to bridge cultures,” Dalmia added.

On display at the Calcutta Information Centre are panels with photographs of Anne and her family, the attic she hid in and quotes from her diary, as well as words from those who knew her and are still alive, pictures of the war and concentration camps, and touching statements from individuals from the minority community, who were children in the Netherlands and Germany in the war. Some of the photographs are rare, and never-seen-before.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who inaugurated the exhibition on Thursday, said: “I was a year old when she died in 1945, and it’s sad to think she might have been alive today if she had waited for just one more month, when the camp prisoners were released.”

He added that Fascism was the worst thing to have emerged in the 20th Century, and it still continues today. “The Israeli jingoism against the Palestinians in their own country is proof of that. So is America attacking the world in the name of eradicating terrorism. And in India of course, there is the RSS, VHP, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jamaat-e-Islamia, to name just a few.”

Edusec Rohof, a Dutch visitor to the exhibition, said: “My parents were in the east of the country during the war, and although they didn’t bear the brunt of it, the situation was bad. Anne Frank’s life is very important in explaining to the world about the evil of war and hate, especially in this day and age.”

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