Nick Lees: Statue in Edmonton to honour Anne Frank back on track

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Teenager Anne Frank has been called the symbol of Second World War horrors and Nazi tyranny by historians.

Now, Edmonton’s Dutch community is back on track to erect a copy of the first Anne Frank statue made by famous artist Pieter D’Hont.

“This bronze statue is our way of thanking the many Canadian soldiers who were crucial in liberating The Netherlands from the Nazis in 1945,” says realtor John Stobbe, who has worked on the project with Dutch Hon. Consul Jerry Bouma and Edmonton Dutch Canadian Club president Frank Stolk.

“We had planned to place our Anne Frank statue in Old Strathcona’s Light Horse Park last year and launched our $75,000 campaign in January 2020 to cover the cost of the statue, transportation, installation and maintenance.”

The ceremony was planned for May 4 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Liberation of The Netherlands, which cost some 7,600 Canadian lives during a nine-month campaign.


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“The COVID-19 pandemic saw the ceremony postponed,” says Stobbe. “And renovations to Light Horse Park saw it postponed again in the fall.

“Now our statue, poured from the original 1960 Anne Frank mold and only the second in the world to be placed in a public space, will be unveiled Aug. 8 this year.”

There is more good news, reports Stobbe.

“An Edmonton Journal column significantly helped launch our fundraising campaign in February 2020,” he says. “Word about the campaign spread and cash and cheques came from many places with letters of support.

“Donors included 2,500 Euros from the Dutch city of Steenbergen and $2,000 from the Edmonton Jewish Federation.”

Last week, the campaign was pushed well over the top with an Alberta government Community Initiatives Program grant of $30,000.

Anne Frank’s diary was first published in 1947 and has sold more than 40-million copies in 70 languages.

Frank’s Jewish family, says Stobbe, fled to Amsterdam from Frankfurt, Germany, in 1933 when she was four years old and Adolf Hitler’s persecution of Jews was gathering speed.

“Hitler invaded neutral Holland in 1940 and Jews were soon required to wear a yellow star, forbidden to use streetcars, ride in their own cars, and go to theatres and movies,” says the realtor.

“On June 12, 1942, Anne’s 13th birthday, it was announced all sport was prohibited to Jews, who later also had to hand over their bicycles and walk in the gutters.”

On her birthday, Anne was presented with a colourful autograph book she had spotted a week before and it became her diary. But 23 days later, her entire family went into hiding in an annex belonging to her businessman father and lived there for two years.


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On Aug. 4, 1944, the Gestapo raided the annex and Frank’s family was sent to a Nazi transit camp.

One month later, records show Frank was among 1,019 prisoners jammed into box-cars with no room to sit. They travelled in near total darkness for days, enduring stench from a corner waste bucket and from people unable to reach it.

The prisoners disembarked at Auschwitz, a complex of more than 40 concentration and extermination camps where some 1.1 million people were killed between 1940 to 1945.

Frank, later covered by lice, mites and bedbugs, was sent to a scabies ward where rats and mice scampered over patients at night.

On. Oct. 28, 1944, she was sent to the disease-ridden Bergen-Belson camp in Germany and became one of 35,000 prisoners who died during a typhus outbreak in early 1945.

Her father Otto Frank survived the camps and, on return to the Netherlands, was handed his daughter’s diary, found on the annex floor.

“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness,” reads one of Anne’s diary musings. She advises: “Be kind and have courage.”

A wee dram Jimmy?

Bet your last Scottish pound those gathering April 22 will all know the best quote about Single Malt Scotch.

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whisky is not nearly enough,” Mark Twain once declared.

Much wit is promised when Edmonton’s scotch whisky aficionados gather for a virtual evening in support of No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation.


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“Our Zoom show will be led by Bryan Simpson, the Glasgow-born brand ambassador for Glenmorangie and Ardbeg who is well known in Scotland’s whisky community,” says Randall Purvis, whose wife Maureen Bianchini founded NSLA.

“Bryan later ignited the passion of thousands of Canadians for single malt when he moved to Canada and made his home in Toronto. His talk will be followed by three guests, each of whom will tell a story of an exceptional Single Malt Whisky experience.”

The NSLA movement began when Maureen, inspired by her Second World War veteran mother, took her children to place poppies on all veterans’ headstones. The campaign has spread across Canada and the world.

“There is always something new to learn about whisky,” says Purvis. “Did you know some 22 million casks of scotch lie maturing in warehouses in Scotland?”

Tickets are $75 at www.nostoneleftalone/raise-a-glass.


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