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The inmates’ efforts came after The Anne Frank Prison Project, an initiative of the Anne Frank Trust UK, visited the jail in West Yorkshire with an exhibition which aims to teach prisoners and staff at jails across the UK about the atrocities of the Holocaust and instill in them messages of tolerance and diversity.
So taken were the four prisoners by the experience that they decidedto create the first of what was to be several scale models as a way to contribute to the travelling exhibition, Anne Frank: A History for Today.
The Trust has since asked for a further three identical models to be made, with the first handed over to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam last Wednesday at a ceremony attended by two governors and two officers from HMP Wakefield.
The event came just six weeks before what would have been the birthday of the diarist who hid at the house with family members before being taken in 1944 along with her relatives to Auschwitz. She later died of typhus at Bergen Belsen.
Steve Gadd, Prison Exhibition Manager for the Anne Frank Trust, said: “This is an extremely significant year – Anne Frank would have been 80 years old had she lived. I am extremely grateful to the prisoners and staff at HMP Wakefield in presenting this scaled model of the Anne Frank House to the actual Anne Frank House in Holland. It is our way of paying our respects, in commemoration of Anne, her family and the tragedy of their lives.”
He added: “But, just as importantly, we would like this presentation to be a celebration of Anne’s life and the inspiration she has been to millions of people all around the world.
“Her values and her aspirations live on – that all people should live together in peace and mutual respect.” Gadd told the Jewish News that those who travelled to last week’s ceremony from the UK were chosen by the head governor of Wakefield to “convey the inmates’ best wishes” and the “positive impact the exhibition has made on their lives”.
Next month, the model will be sent to the South African Supreme Court in Johannesburg to be displayed at Constitution Hill, a former prison where Nelson Mandela awaited his trial in 1962.Prisoners Inspired by Anne's Example by Erica Morris