In Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands the traveling Anne Frank exhibition can be seen in prisons. Based on the concept of peer education, a group of prisoners is trained to give tours to their fellow prisoners. Often there are other activities linked to the exhibition. In the United States, the diary of Anne Frank serves as an inspiration for prisoners to keep a diary themselves.
Prison Tour Project in the United Kingdom
The initiative to work with prisoners was taken in 2002 by the Anne Frank Trust, the British partner organisation of the Anne Frank House. The Anne Frank Prison Project set up by the Trust was a response to growing concerns about racism and discrimination in prisons. The idea was for the traveling exhibition to be shown in prisons and trainings to be provided for the detainees. The Prison Project has now been on tour for more than ten years with dozens of prisons participating, and several hundred prisoners have been trained as guides. Especially for the Prison Project, the Trust made an addition to the Anne Frank exhibition. These complementary panels deal with examples of contemporary racism, bullying and prejudice.
For each exhibition presentation, a group of prisoners is trained to guide. Tours are generally given to inmates, prison staff and people from the neighbourhood. In most cases, a special opening ceremony is organised. For many prisoners it is an important experience: they are introduced to the topics addressed in the exhibition and they learn to process information, to speak in front of an audience and to initiate dialogue with their audience.
Aside from the exhibition, the UK Prison Project often includes other activities:
• Trainings by the Open College Network (OCN) on themes such as diversity and prejudice
• Poetry workshops
• Lectures by Holocaust survivors
• Free2choose debates
Following the British example, the Anne Frank exhibition has toured prisons in the Netherlands since 2011, first being shown in prisons in Zoetermeer and Vught. The initiative for the Dutch prison project was taken by the Exodus Netherlands, an organisation dedicated to the integration of prisoners into society. In both prisons, prisoners were trained as peer-guides by staff of the Anne Frank House.
Presentation of certificates to guides at the Zoetermeer Penitentiary. June 2011
In 2006 and 2007 the Anne Frank Zentrum, the German partner organisation of the Anne Frank House organised a series of exhibitions in juvenile prisons in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. All volunteer guides underwent a two-day training. The first day was devoted to the historical context, the second day involves the role of the guide.
In cooperation with the PEN American Center, the Anne Frank Center in New York developed a writing project with prisoners. Under the Prison Diary Program, participating inmates received a copy of the diary of Anne Frank and themselves kept a journal for three months. Often they wrote about the issues that were also important for Anne Frank: hope, responsibility, dreams, fears and freedom. Excerpts from the diaries of the prisoners can be found on the website of the Anne Frank Center.
Model of the secret annex of the Anne Frank House, built by Prisoners at HMP Wakefield in Great Britain as a gift to the Anne Frank Center in New York.