Outcry in Croatia as Anne Frank’s diary dropped from school curriculum

The petition has garnered over 4,000 signatures since its inception earlier this week.

By
February 15, 2019 12:17
2 minute read.
Anne Frank in 1940

Anne Frank in 1940. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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Thousands of Croatians have signed a petition blasting the Education Ministry for dropping The Diary of Anne Frank from the school curriculum.

The petition has garnered over 4,000 signatures since its inception earlier this week.

The petition’s description states that The Diary of Anne Frank has “disappeared from the list of textbooks [and] we do not know why.
“We know that this work is extremely important in understanding how far human evil can develop in a dark time. We believe that the Holocaust is not an issue that can be skipped,” the petition says, calling for it to be re-instituted and reinstated into the curriculum.

In a statement, the Croatian Society of Writers also criticized the move. “The fact that The Diary of Anne Frank is no longer on the list…finds this…worrisome,” calling it “the best-known diary in world literature.”

Education Minister Blazenka Divjak responded to the outcry in a statement on Facebook adding that she would "accept the criticism" about the issue and would send out a questionnaire to teachers in elementary and secondary schools asking their thoughts on recommendations for required reading materials.

“This is not the usual method,” she said but “there are strong controversies surrounding the matter in which there is no clear consensus and the only people who can solve this is those in the classroom.”

Croatian News Agency Hina quoted Independent Member of Parliament Bojan Glavašević who said that discarding Anne Frank’s diary from the school curriculum “is an illustrative example of the government's relationship with the Holocaust, which shows a deep misunderstanding of the fact that refusing to face the past is a direct path to repetition of all the worst errors.”

"This is not just any book, but one of the thousands of signs of a process of collective forgetting, which is carried out with the intention in the society," Glavašević said, pointing out that many generations of young Europeans have read the book at least once in their lives.

Frank wrote The Diary of a Young Girl while hiding from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic from June 1942 to August 1944. More than 30 million copies have been sold in 67 languages.

This is not the first time such an issue has surfaced in Croatia. AFP reported that in 2017, a Croatian school came under fire for refusing to display an exhibition on Frank because it included panels on crimes committed by the country's World War II pro-Nazi regime.

The exhibition, prepared by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, was due to be displayed at a high school in the coastal town of Sibenik.

The school's director argued that the pro-Nazi Ustashe were presented as "criminals" while the crimes of rival communists were ignored.

The Ustashe killed hundreds of thousands of Jews, Serbs, Roma and anti-fascist Croatians.

The exhibition had previously been presented in 23 Croatian towns without any problems.

In recent years, Croatias government has been accused by critics of playing down the atrocities committed by the Ustashe and ignoring a surge of nostalgia for the pro-Nazi past.

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