The Duchess of Cornwall marked the 75th anniversary of the publication of Anne Frank’s diary at an event in London today, giving a speech in which she urged people not to be ‘bystanders to prejudice’.
The reception for the Anne Frank Trust, at the InterContinental London on Park Lane, was also attended by Eva Schloss, MBE, 92, an Auschwitz survivor and Anne Frank’s step-sister.
The Diary of Anne Frank, a journal detailing how the Jewish Frank family went into hiding for two years during the German occupation of the Netherlands, was first published in Dutch in June 1947, three years after its author died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp aged just 16.
Since then, it has been translated into 70 different languages and published worldwide. It is widely regarded as one of the most influential pieces of literature of the 20th century.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (centre), attended a London event today marking the 75th publication of The Diary of Anne Frank. Also in attendance were Anne Frank’s step-sister Eva Schloss (right) and Joanna Lumley (far right)
Dame Joanna Lumley (left) who is friends with Camilla and her husband Prince Charles, was guest speaker at today’s event at the InterContinental Hotel on Park Lane
Anne Frank was just 16 when she died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The Diary of Anne Frank, which is considered one of the most influential works of literature of the 20th century, was first published three years later in June 1947
Talking about the book during a speech, Camilla, 74, said: ‘Like so many others, I first read Anne’s diary at about the same age as she was when she started her harrowing memoir.
‘Anne had an exceptional gift with words. She had seen their power to promote great evil, but also recognised their ability to offer comfort, meaning and hope.
‘Her life, and her death, continue to inspire a worldwide movement of anti-prejudice education, including the Anne Frank Trust here in the UK.’
The Duchess, who visited Auschwitz in 2020, on the 75th anniversary of its liberation described how she would ‘never forget’ a speech given by Marian Turski, a Holocaust survivor who had warned of laws discriminating against Jewish people in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
She said: ‘He described how people (victims, perpetrators and witnesses) can gradually become desensitised to the exclusion, the stigmatisation and the alienation of those who have previously been friends.
‘Marian warned us that this can happen again. But he gave us, too, the answer to preventing it. “You should never, never be a bystander”.
Eva Schloss MBE (left) is the step-sister of Anne Frank, Honorary President of the Anne Frank Trust UK, and survivor of Auschwitz
Eva Schloss (left) said she was ‘deeply grateful’ to the Duchess of Cornwall for showing support to the Anne Frank Trust
‘Ladies and gentlemen, let us not be bystanders to injustice or prejudice. After all, surely our personal values are measured by the things we are prepared to ignore.
‘Let us therefore learn from those who bore witness to the horrors of the Holocaust, and all subsequent genocides, and commit ourselves to keeping their stories alive, so that each generation will be ready to tackle hatred in any of its terrible forms.
‘And let us carry with us the words and wisdom Anne Frank (a child of only 14 years old) wrote on 7th May 1944: ‘What is done cannot be undone, but at least one can prevent it from happening again’.
Among the other guests were the daughter of murdered MP Sir David Amess, and cricketer Azeem Rafiq, who has spoken out about racism within his sport.
Guest speaker Dame Joanna Lumley (left) described the day as ‘unforgettable’, and said meeting Eva Schloss was a ‘privilege’. She is believed to be friends with Camilla
Actor Joanna Lumley has previously spoken about filming at charity video with Charles and Camilla at their London residence Clarence House, praising the couple for being welcoming
In addition, schoolchildren from Dundee, London and Rotherham who have been trained as anti-prejudice ambassadors by the Anne Frank Trust were present.
The young ambassadors shared a trailer for a film they have made in which they share their own experiences of prejudice.
The full film will be released on Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27. They also presented the Duchess of Cornwall with a copy of Anne Frank’s diary.
What is Holocaust Memorial Day?
Every January on Holocaust Memorial Day, the world remembers the six million Jews and millions of other minorities who were killed during the genocide of World War II.
As directed by Hitler’s Nazi party, the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah in Hebrew, is a term to describe the genocide of Jews and other minorities during World War II.
January 27, 1945 is the day the Auschwitz concentration camp in modern-day Poland was liberated by the Soviets.
With the Soviets arriving nearly eight months before the war ended, many had been sent out on a death march and 7,000 sick and dying people remained.
In the five years that Auschwitz was open, an estimated 1.1 million people were killed at the concentration camp. 90 percent were Jewish and the rest were a mix of Romany people, Soviets and Poles.
One in six Jews killed in World War II died at Auschwitz after being brought to the camp across Europe by train.
By the end of the Holocaust, six million Jewish men, women and children died in ghettos, mass-shootings, in concentration camps and extermination camps.
Studies have also revealed that the true death toll could be as many as 20 million people.
All over the world, commemorative events will take place to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, but also subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur are remembered to try and end racial violence once and for all.
Speaking to the schoolchildren, Camilla said their ‘understanding of the past, and their dedication to a better future, are a testament to all of you who support the work of the Anne Frank Trust to speak out against prejudice of any kind’.
Eva Schloss said it was ‘an honour’ to be with the Duchess of Cornwall in ‘remembering all those, including my father and brother, who were murdered by the Nazis just for being Jewish’.
She added: ‘I am deeply grateful to Her Royal Highness for showing her support for the Anne Frank Trust, a charity which helps ensure the Holocaust is never forgotten and educates today’s young people to speak up against all forms of prejudice and discrimination.’
Dame Joanna Lumley, 75, attended the reception as a guest speaker. Describing the day as ‘unforgettable’, she said it was a ‘tremendous privilege’ to meet both Eva Schloss and Camilla’.
She added that she was ‘deeply moved to join in remembering the appalling tragedy of the Holocaust’, as well as being inspired by the education the Anne Frank Trust provides to young people.
This event will be followed by Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27.
While Camilla visited Auschwitz in 2020 to mark 75 years since the Nazi death camp was liberated, last year, the Royals had to mark the occasion online due to Covid restrictions.
Prince Charles, who is patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, led the Royal Family’s tributes to victims and survivors in a video.
He said: ‘This is our time when we can, each in our own way, be the light that ensures the darkness can never return.’
He added that people ‘must remember’ the ‘inspiring heroism’ of those who survived persecution by the Nazis.
However, he warned: ‘We have also seen reckless assaults on the truth and the deeply worrying growth of fake news and of irrational theories, not grounded in reality but rooted in dark places of hatred and fear.
‘We have seen reason rejected, objectivity abandoned, history discounted – even the Holocaust denied.
‘As I speak, the last generation of living witnesses is tragically passing from this world, so the task of bearing witness falls to us.
To mark Holocaust Memorial Day this year, Prince Charles has commissioned portraits of seven survivors, which will be displayed at an exhibition at Buckingham Palace from January 27 to February 13 and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh from March 17 to June 6.