Menno Metselaar, project leader Publications and Presentations department, writes about the project

One of the choices we made

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One of the stories we'll be telling in the new museum route is that of Anne and Margot Frank at the Jewish Lyceum high school. We'll explore the gradual and ever-increasing exclusion of Jews in the Netherlands by the occupying German forces. One of the steps in this process was the forced segregation of Jewish and non-Jewish pupils.

Author Menno Metselaar, project leader, Publications and Presentations department of the Anne Frank House.

Anne en Margot Frank, Joods Lyceum.
Anne and Margot Frank at the Jewish Lyceum.

Photos

This is one of the best-known photos of Anne Frank. But not many people know that the photo was taken at the Jewish Lyceum high school in Amsterdam, in December 1941, or that there is a similar photo of Margot. At the time the Jewish Lyceum had been in existence for three months. Both photos will be on display in the new museum route.

Jewish pupils

In August 1941 the parents of Jewish pupils received a letter from Amsterdam City Council: 'Given that according to information received by me your child is a Jew (or Jewess) [...] with effect from 1 September 1941 he or she will not (or will no longer) be admitted to the school presently attended by him (or her) (or to the school to which he or she would have been admitted).' [Dienke Hondius, Absent, 2001, page 40]

The occupying forces did not allow Jewish and non-Jewish pupils to attend the same schools. A total of 24 schools were established in Amsterdam.

Jewish Lyceum

Otto and Edith Frank decided on the Jewish Lyceum in the Stadstimmertuinen street. The school opened its doors on 15 October 1941. In one of her short stories, 'My first Lyceum day', Anne later looked back on her first day at the Jewish Lyceum. The story mainly shows how happy she was that, after a great deal of persuasion, her friend Hannah Goslar was put in the same class as her.

There were 18 boys and 12 girls in Anne's class. In letters to her grandmother in Switzerland Anne complains about the boys ('they're really annoying') and about the amount of homework, but apart from that she finds it 'nice' at the Lyceum.

Diary

For her thirteenth birthday, on 12 June 1942, Anne was given a diary, and she started writing in it straight away. After a look back on her birthday, she writes about her classmates in a few sentences or a few words, sometimes negative and sometimes positive. The conversations in the class at the time mainly concerned the school reports. According to Anne, 'there are so many dummies that about a quarter of the class should be kept back'. [The Diary of Anne Frank, 21 June 1942]

Report

The reports were handed out on Friday 3 July 1942 in the Jewish Theatre (now the Holland Theatre). Anne (who failed her algebra exam) moved up to the second grade, and Margot to the fifth. Anne writes that Margot's report was 'brilliant, as usual' and that 'if we had such a thing as 'cum laude', she would have passed with honours' [The Diary of Anne Frank, 5 July 1942]. The summer holidays of 1942 - as strange as that may now sound - could begin.

Call-up

Two days later there came a ring on the Frank family's doorbell: it was a police officer with call-up papers for Margot. She had to report for 'work in Germany under police supervision'. Otto and Edith Frank were ready for this: a hiding place had been prepared in the utmost secrecy in an empty part of Otto Frank's business premises. Early in the morning of Monday 6 July the Frank family left for Prinsengracht 263. They would remain in hiding there for over two years.

 

Menno Metselaar, February 2017