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Facing Fear

03/07/2013 04:09PM, Published by Anonymous, Categories:

The story of Anne Frank is being used to discuss discrimination and bullying

By Rebekah Sanderlin

Sonja Rothstein heard about the bullying and gang problems troubling Cumberland County Schools and knew what she wanted to do about it. Instead of lecturing children about the evils of bullying and gangs, why not introduce them to the biggest bullies in the history of the world, and let them see what effect those bullies had on a child, she reasoned. Rothstein decided she wanted local children to really experience the story of Anne Frank.

“I just thought it would be great to have the kids come through and show them that they don’t have to be intimidated and they don’t have to be afraid,” she said. Rothstein, a devoted volunteer who has spent many years working to better the lives of

Fayetteville’s children, knew from the start that her idea was unconventional, but she also believed it could work.

She contacted The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County and The Anne Frank Center in New York and told them what she wanted to do.

“They loved it,” she said.

“This time in history — the Holocaust — is so important to revisit and study, so we can understand how it was able to happen,” said Mary Kinney, the marketing director for The Arts Council. “This is not just an opportunity for people to see something, but for them to learn something as it relates to what is going on in our society and schools now. Hopefully this will be a springboard for discussions and change.”

Pretty soon Rothstein had recruited several friends to work with her and began raising money to pay to bring an exhibit on Anne Frank’s life from the Anne Frank Center. It was very important to Rothstein and the others that anyone who wanted to attend the exhibit be able to do so free of charge. Her zeal was catching and before long other organizations in Fayetteville had signed on, too. In addition to the two exhibits the Anne Frank Center has loaned to The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, six other museums, the Cumberland County Library, Fayetteville State University, Methodist University, Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, Cape Fear Regional Theater and the Beth Israel Congregation have all planned events or exhibits to expand on the themes raised by the stories from Anne Frank’s life, namely discrimination, oppression and hate.

“This is the first time all of these organizations are doing something together,” Rothstein said, adding that the director of the Tolerance Museum in Los Angeles, a national leader on the efforts to curb bullying, is planning to lead workshops in Cumberland County Schools and has agreed to do so for free.

“Fayetteville really should be so proud to have all of this in our community,” Rothstein said. “I really appreciate that the community has found this to be a worthwhile project. And even if only one kid really gets something out of it, well, that means it was a success”

Kinney and Rothstein each said that, though groups of Cumberland County school children will be visiting the docent-led exhibits at The Arts Council, people of all ages should consider taking in the events and exhibits.

“Maybe there are people who’ve never had a reason to go into a synagogue before and they could go in for the concert,” Kinney said. “This is not just an opportunity to see something, but for people to really learn something. Every lecture, every exhibit, is free and open to the public,” Kinney said. “The Arts Council will be open seven days a week for this. There’s no reason for people not to go.”

Exhibits & Events

Anne Frank: A History for Today centers around the life of Anne Frank. Visitors learn about the Holocaust through the perspective of Anne Frank and her family and the historical events that governed their lives and the government-sponsored killings of Jews, Gypsies, disabled persons, Slavs and other “undesirables” is shown. Visitors are shown the importance of individual action – then and now and are encouraged to think more about scapegoating, anti-Semitism, racism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide as well as human rights, democracy, and conflict resolution.

Art and Propaganda in Nazi-Occupied Holland showcases both the Dutch resistance art and the official propaganda used by the Nazi party from 1940 to 1945. The collection includes 21 linoleum and woodcut prints by Marie de Zaaijer, which depict the suffering and hardship Holland endured during the war; and several original drawings by the Dutch artist Henri Pieck, created during the artist’s internment at Buchenwald concentration camp.

A traveling, multi-media exhibit called Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings will be on display at The Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center from March 18 until April 21. The exhibit, which is on loan from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, looks at how the burning of works from Jewish and non-Jewish authors became a lasting symbol of the fight against Nazism in America.

An exhibit chronicling the history of Fayetteville’s Jewish community and their struggles to assimilate into Southern culture, while maintaining their own cultural and religious traditions, will be on display at the Fayetteville Transportation & Local History Museum from March 18 until April 21. Called A History of Fayetteville’s Jewish Community, the exhibit is broken into two parts: the history of Jews in Fayetteville from the early 19th through mid-20th centuries and the Holocaust and the roles Fayetteville’s Jews played in World War II.

The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex will expand on the theme of racial intolerance in an exhibit called Fayetteville and the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898. The exhibit will look at attempts to exert white supremacy in government and how those actions led to a series of violent events in neighboring Wilmington, and at Fayetteville’s response to those events.

Our area’s military museums are also participating by displaying related exhibits. The JFK Special Warfare Museum and the 82nd Airborne Division Museum, both located on Ft. Bragg, will respectively display World War II-era Allied propaganda posters and artifacts seized by paratroopers in Europe during World War II. The 82nd Airborne Division Museum will also have an exhibit about the liberation of the Wobbelin concentration camp by the Division on May 2, 1945.

On April 7th the Beth Israel Congregation will host a reception and concert in observance of World Holocaust Rememberance Day. The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and Cape Fear Regional Theatre will present Olivier Messiaen’s “Quatuor pour la fin du temps” (Quartet for the End of Time) and selected readings from the stage adaptation of the Diary of Anne Frank. The 31-year-old Messiaen wrote “Quartet for the End of Time” while he was imprisoned in Stalag VIII-A in Görlitz, Germany (currently Zgorzelec, Poland) and the first performance was conducted in the rain on January 15, 1941, with broken instruments before an audience of about 400 fellow prisoners of war and prison guards. The concert and readings will be followed by Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Observance) service.

The Airborne and Special Operations Museum, located in Downtown Fayetteville, will have many items on display related to the United States’ military involvement in World War II.

On April 11 Dr. Bradley Kadel, Assistant Professor of History at Fayetteville State University, will present “Medicine, The Disabled and the Road to the Holocaust” at Shaw Auditorium in the School of Business and Economics at FSU. This presentation argues that the campaign against the disabled and euthanasia programs implemented before the Holocaust helped pave the way for mass killing by enlisting medical professionals and managing public outcries of dissent.

LeRae Umfleet, author of “A Day of Blood: The 1898 Wilmington Race Riot,” will speak about the riot at Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex on April 14.

Dr. Eric See, Chair, Department of Justice Studies, Applied Forensic Science, and Cyber Crime at Methodist University, will speak about aspects of social media that provide access for cyber-bullying, its prevalence, characteristics and effects in the Walter & Margaret Clark Hall Yarborough Auditorium at Methodist University.


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