Page last updated at 09:11 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 10:11 UK

Thousands flock to Anne Frank exhibition

Anne Frank enjoying a day on the beach in 1934
Anne Frank enjoying a day on the beach in 1934

By Keiron Tourish
BBC NI northwest reporter

A new exhibition on the life of Anne Frank has attracted a huge number of visitors to the Alley Theatre in Strabane. In the first nine days about 4,000 people have been through its doors.

The centrepiece is a life-size replica of her bedroom in the secret annexe above her father's business in Amsterdam.

This very small area was where the Frank family and a number of Jewish refugees spent more than two years in hiding. They were eventually betrayed to the Nazis in the summer of 1944.

It was in this room where Anne Frank kept her diary, committing to paper her hopes and dreams and her thoughts on conflict.

People who visit the exhibition pass through a multi-media display which focuses on the themes which dominated the teenager's life.

The horror of the holocaust and other genocide around the world is documented.

About six millions Jews lost their lives in Europe during the Second World War.

"The story of Anne Frank not only reminds us about what has happened in the past, but also what is happening in society today," said Kieran McGuire, Chairman of Strabane District Council.

"This exhibition will be an ideal way to inform our community about the need to stand together and support those in society who need our help and support, whilst protecting their human rights.

"Anne's short life shows us what can happen when hatred and extremism goes unchallenged, we therefore intend to challenge and stimulate discussion within our community about what are the best ways forward in offering everyone an equal place in society today."

Inge Radford lost most of her family in the Holocaust
Inge Radford lost most of her family in the Holocaust

A special guest at the official opening was 77-year-old Inge Radford who lives in Northern Ireland.

She lost five brothers and her mother to the Holocaust. Two other brothers and two sisters survived.

"The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers," said Mrs Radford.

"It started with grafitti, with daubing on walls, with people shouting rude things, with bullying.

"Then when Hitler came to power, all that bad behaviour I suppose you could call it was legitimised."

Ivor Whitten of the Anne Frank Trust UK said people in Northern Ireland would be able to relate to the universal themes.

"The context of course is Anne Frank, a young girl who was the victim - a tragic victim - or intolerance and prejudice that was going on at that time in the 1930's and 1940's," he said.

"It still has a resonance today."

Already the exhibition has had a considerable impact on young students who have been learning the story of Anne Frank.

"I think the exhibition was very good and the story of Anne Frank is very sad," said one.

Another said: "I really enjoyed the exhibition. But I hated how your colour and your religion can change how you're affected, even today."

The exhibition continues until the end of May.

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