In August 2014 the Anne Frank House hosted an International Youth Conference with participants from all over the world. They spoke about the meaning of Anne Frank and came up with projects of their own.

Youth Conference

The participants, 2014.
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From 10th to 15th August 2014, 50 young people aged 16 - 25 from 28 countries took part in the International Youth Conference (IYC), organised by the Anne Frank House. The participants are involved in activities of the Anne Frank House everywhere in the world. They all came together in Amsterdam to learn from each other’s experiences and to come up with their own project that they are implementing in their own countries at this very moment. After a week of intense workshops, museum visits and of course lots and lots of fun, every participant got an official certificate as Anne Frank Ambassador.

Otto Frank s dream

By organizing this conference, in the year that Anne Frank would have turned 85, the Anne Frank House revived a tradition that Otto Frank, Anne’s father, started in the early sixties: for almost a decade, he annually brought together young people from all over the world in an attempt to promote mutual under-standing and peace.

From all over the world

This dream of Otto Frank is revived by the Anne Frank House. The young people who participated in the International Youth Conference, are guides from the Anne Frank exhibitions or are involved in other activities of the Anne Frank House that are happening worldwide. The participants came from all over the world, such as Argentina, Italy, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Russia, Canada, Ukraine and India.

Exchanging experiences

Because it was Anne Frank’s 85th birthday, the youngsters reflected on the meaning of the story of Anne Frank today, on a personal level but also in their community. The participants visited the Annex and other historical places in Amsterdam connected to history of the Second World War, met with Eva Schloss, the stepdaughter of Otto Frank and also a Holocaust survivor, who shared her story and participated in  numerous workshops. The young people presented their own action plans and exchanged previous experiences with each other. During the conference they also learned concrete skills, such as developing an action plan. With the support of young professionals, the Anne Frank Ambassadors developed their presentation skills.

It takes ordinary people stepping up as soon as fundamentalism rears its head. And young people have an essential role to play.

Frans Timmermans, Dutch minister of foreign affairs, 14 August 2014

Closing Event

On August 14th, the conference was formally closed with a special event. Tanuj, from India, Elzara from Ukraine and Sahar from the Netherlands presented their action plans to a panel which consisted of Ted Musaph, a Holocaust survivor and board of Trust of the Anne Frank House, Ronald Leopold, the director of the Anne Frank House and Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans. This special ceremony was closed with a formal graduation. Now, the participants officially are Anne Frank Ambassadors. Lisa Wade, Dutch TV presenter, moderated the event. Roxanne ‘Rocky’ Hehakaija, who crowdfunded a project in Rio de Janeiro to teach football to girls from the Favelas, was a guest speaker. Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs gave a speech about the dangers of fundamentalism and anti-Semitism and the important role of youth in fighting them.

Speech of Minister Timmermans

Speech by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans:

Speech Timmermans (pdf) (91KB)

The Anne Frank House as a meeting place for international youth

The Anne Frank House was established on 3rd May 1957, with the close involvement of Anne’s father, Otto Frank. It is an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of Anne Frank’s hiding place and her diaries, and to spreading the message of Anne Frank’s life and ideals worldwide. One of the special features of the Anne Frank House, during those early years, was that it had to serve as a meeting place for international youth, where they could discuss the issues of their time. For almost ten years in the 1960s young people from all over the world assembled in Amsterdam to talk and debate about the main issues of their time, like the consequences of the Atom bomb, the Vietnam War and segregation in the United States and Apartheid in South-Africa.

Youth Conference in the past Impression of the International Youth Conferences that took place in the 1960s, with Otto Frank on the left. (Copyright: Fotoarchief Anne Frank Stichting, fotograaf: Egbert van Zon).

A House of Dialogue

Otto Frank’s ideal vision of the Anne Frank House was an international youth centre. A house of dialogue. A house for youngsters, with a warning from the past, but focussed on the future. Even though Otto Frank moved to Basel in 1952, he still stayed closely involved in the plans.

The first International Youth Conference became reality in 1963. In the summer, young people from all over the world came to the Anne Frank House for a summer conference. They discussed race issues, the Jewish question, world religions, modern education and combatting illiteracy. The name and title of the conference was Youth in a Changing World. From then on every year a youth conference was held, until the last conference in 1970 about Peace-Justice Progress for Europe. After that, the International Youth Conferences in the summer died a silent death, until we decided to revive this important tradition in August 2014, almost 45 years after the last conference.

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