An historic home in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis today is a museum, and will be one of the sites visited in May by Roosevelt students taking a World War II history class.
An historic home in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis today is a museum, and will be one of the sites visited in May by Roosevelt students taking a World War II history class.

Roosevelt University begins a year-long celebration of 75 years of social justice with an exhibit about Anne Frank, who continues to be a beacon for a better world even 75 years after her death.

With one of World War II’s most enduring stories, Frank was a Holocaust victim who became renowned posthumously for her account of life in hiding in Amsterdam from 1942-44 in The Diary of a Young Girl.

Sponsored by the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in New York City, Roosevelt’s Murray-Green Library and the University’s Center for New Deal Studies, the international “Anne Frank: A History for Today Exhibit” uses photos, film and narrative, in part from the diary, to tell Frank’s story.

Free and open to the public, the Jan. 27-March 8 exhibit teaches lessons of the Holocaust and encourages thought about social justice, tolerance, mutual respect and human rights, values that fueled Roosevelt’s founding in 1945, just as World War II was ending.

“Anne Frank’s story is a testament to courage and hope for a better world,” said Roosevelt historian Lynn Weiner.  “Those values also are at the heart of Roosevelt’s beginning in 1945,” said Weiner of the private college, which was the nation’s first to reject admission quotas, accepting students and faculty regardless of background.

Among Roosevelt’s early faculty and students were Jews who had fled persecution in Nazi Germany.  Several of note include:

Rolf Weil, the University’s third and longest serving president who left Germany for America with his family as a teen in 1936. Joining Roosevelt in 1946, he served as a finance and economics professor and dean of the University’s Heller College of Business before ascending to the University presidency from 1964-88.

Rolf Weil and Regina Fleischer

Walter Weisskopf, an Austrian-born lawyer and labor relations expert who left his country for America in 1938. A founding faculty member and distinguished professor of economics, he walked out with fellow faculty, students and staff from Chicago’s Central YMCA College on April 24, 1945 in protest against possible enactment of admission quotas and in order to start a more equitable – and at the time experimental - college where all qualified students, regardless of race, class, religion, gender or age, were welcome. That experiment and college today is Roosevelt University.

That history makes the Frank exhibit and its subsequent events a good starting point for Roosevelt’s 75th anniversary celebration during 2020, according to Roosevelt Director of Libraries Estevan Montaño

“This exhibit will educate all of Chicagoland on the dangerous consequences of intolerance,” he said. ”I see it as a starting point for action and positive change in our respect for one another.”

The exhibit also will be a learning lab for Roosevelt students taking a World War II history course this semester with professors Margaret Rung and Chris Chulos.

“We will be reading Anne Frank’s diary as a class in February and will be visiting the exhibit as part of our coursework,” said Rung. A trip to Europe, including a visit to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam in May, also is part of the class experience.

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam has been visited by Roosevelt students taking a World War II history course with Professor Chris Chulos, (pictured in first row, left).

“The exhibit will be informative, particularly given all of the hate crimes we have been seeing recently in our country,” added Jill Coleman, a Roosevelt associate professor of psychology who plans to incorporate visits and discussions about the Anne Frank exhibit into both undergraduate honors and graduate-level psychology courses.

“My goal will be to have students not only look at prejudice, but also at its impact on trauma and resilience,” she said.

Related events will include:

  • "Hiding Anne Frank: The Miep Gies Story,” a theatrical performance that highlights the true-story efforts of Gies to help Frank and her family while they were in hiding, at 6 p.m. Feb. 14; 
  • “Anne Frank Remembered – Movie Night, featuring the award-winning documentary with never-before seen photos, family letters and rare footage, on Feb. 20 at noon in Schaumburg and at 6 p.m. in Chicago; 
  • “Anne Frank’s Diary: an Educator’s Workshop,” with instructors from the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect sharing ways to use Frank’s diary and experiences in teaching about the Holocaust and its parallels/impacts on issues of the day, 4 p.m., Feb. 26;
  • “Anne Frank: A History for Today Presentation” by an educator with the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, 6 p.m. Feb. 27;
  • “Exhibit Closing Event: an Evening with Glaser Laughlin,” a Holocaust survivor, Lincolnshire, Ill. resident and author of “Transcending Darkness: A Girl’s Journey out of the Holocaust” who will discuss her Holocaust experiences as a child and what it means to be a survivor today, 6 p.m. March 5.

For more information, visit the library's events page or contact emontano02@roosevelt.edu or 312-341-2125.                                

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