At the opening of the Anne Frank park in Pula, Prime Minister Plenković stressed that Anne Frank is just one of a million and a half children victims of Shoah – the persecution and horrendous genocide committed upon Jews in the Second World War. A similar fate was that of Lea Deutsch, a famous child actor in Croatia during the Second World War. “The fates of those two girls are a reminder of our duty and our commitment to honour and show our respect to all innocent victims of the Holocaust, and to preserve the memory of their tragic fates in order to continue building a future of Holocaust remembrance”, he said.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković visited the Istra County today, beginning the visit in Pula at the opening ceremony of the Anne Frank Park.
On that occasion, Prime Minister Plenković said that the park was a commendable initiative on the part of the mayor of Pula.
“In terms of our values, it is the right move at the local level, the right move with a large global reach,” he added.
Prime Minister Plenković considered it an excellent complementary activity that the Park is opening at the very beginning of Croatia’s Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
“Anne Frank, a girl whose family escaped Germany and hid in Amsterdam was 15 years old when she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, which she survived, only to die of typhoid fever after the death march to the no less infamous Bergen-Belsen prisoner camp. Anne Frank is just one of a million and a half children victims of Shoah – the persecution and horrendous genocide committed upon Jews in the Second World War. A similar fate was that of Lea Deutsch, a famous child actor in Croatia, in Zagreb, during the Second World War, nicknamed the Croatian Shirley Temple, who was also deported to u Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943,” said Prime Minister Plenković.
Information and knowledge about the Holocaust in the education system must not stop with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.
He recalled that a few years ago a “stumbling stone” [stolperstein] was placed in Zagreb in front of her [Lea’s] birthplace, as a reminder, and as of today a chestnut tree will grow in this park in Pula, like the one that grew in front of Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam.
Such symbolic gestures, said Prime Minister Plenković, are very important for raising the awareness of young generations.
“The fates of those two girls are a reminder of our duty and our commitment to honour and show our respect to all innocent victims of the Holocaust, and to preserve the memory of their tragic fates in order to continue building a future of Holocaust remembrance”, he emphasised.
A great number of people learn about the terrors of the Holocaust for the first time mostly form required school reading, such as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.
Although it is a commentary written by a young girl, the Prime Minister pointed out, its impact is such that it is almost always among the top 100 on many world books lists.
When read at a young age, Prime Minister Plenković added, that diary may not be understood well enough, so it is a good idea to open the pages of this valuable book again at a more mature age.
He emphasised that it is particularly important that in the educational system, information and knowledge about the Holocaust does not stop with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.
The future of Remembrance is the main theme of the Croatian Presidency of the IHRA
It is precisely for this reason that the activity Croatia wants to encourage through its presidency of the IHRA is lifelong learning about antisemitism and the Holocaust, so as to prevent the recurrence of genocide and similar mass atrocities.
“Thus the future of remembrance is the main theme of the Croatian Presidency of the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance. And this is especially important as we are approaching the time when there will no longer be any surviving witnesses of the Holocaust”, Prime Minister Plenković emphasised.
It is therefore important, from a global perspective, to be aware of antisemitic incidents, widespread extremism in a number of countries, and the ever-present hate speech, including on the Internet, and it is the duty of all of us to resolutely oppose such unacceptable phenomena, because they offend our humanity and our dignity.
Today, he especially highlighted the initiative at the University of Split, which, after the Croatian Government adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, was the first scientific institution to do the same.
“These are very good and positive signals that should be welcomed”, added the Prime Minister.
In a time of dangerous undermining of democratic values, we must protect historic facts.
He announced that Croatia, in the following year of its Presidency of the IHRA, with 35 participant countries, will do all it takes to be a catalyst for promoting and applying the humane values that IHRA stands for.
He announced that important events will be held in Zagreb, Osijek and Dubrovnik during the presidency, and that Croatia will strive to contribute to democratic values, the values of the culture of remembrance and education in order for such terrible crimes never to happen again.
“I am certain that today’s opening of the Park, as well as this chestnut tree in memory of Anne Frank, will be an encouragement and inspiration to other Croatian areas to start similar initiatives, and that in times of ever-growing relativism, of the dangerous questioning and undermining of democratic values, we will protect historical facts in places of remembrance and commemoration of the victims, in ways that will best protect the future of the remembrance of the Holocaust, and thus the future of new generations,” he concluded.