Saturday, July 22, 2017

Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

After we had toured the capitol John and I walked for several blocks seeking to find a church founded in 1872, the First United Methodist, also known as the Cathedral of the Rockies.  We found the church, sadly the original church is no longer standing.  However. it has been replaced by a very beautiful Gothic structure with impressive stained glass windows.
A very friendly volunteer of the church explained the numerous large stained glass windows located around the sanctuary and after our tour encouraged us to visit the Anne Frank Memorial.  She explained that in the early 1980s white supremacists were settling in northern Idaho and promoting their cause.   Idahoans, led by Bill Wassmuth, saw a need to build coalitions to battle the Aryan Nations.  Shortly after that a traveling exhibit on Ann Frank came to Boise.  They were looking for a home for their exhibit and discovered that Boise was the most appropriate place.  We walked over to the memorial from the church.  It is located in a park- like area complete with fountains and plants.   At the entrance of the memorial there are large  marble tablets upon which are written universal human rights, stating that everyone has a right to social progress, freedom and better standards of life.
The centerpiece is a life-size bronze statue of  Anne Frank pulling back an imaginary curtain, one hand is behind her back and holding her diary.  If you follow the direction of her gaze, it seems that she is looking at a tree.  She mentions this tree in her diary.  A sapling from the actual chestnut tree in Amsterdam has been planted in this garden.
Behind the statue of Ann Frank is a space marked out showing the amount of cramped space she and her family had to live in for two years.  I believe it was a total of seven people.  Beyond that space is a steep staircase which, at the time, was hidden by a bookcase.

The large stone wall behind the bookcase is part of a series of walls reminiscent of Amsterdam.
On the stone bookcase are quotations from Ann's diary, as shown above.  Also in the memorial is an 180 foot quotation wall.  Here are statements from presidents to slaves.  People who survived the holocaust, as well as the Japanese who suffered interment here during World War 11, and Native Americans.  All have a common voice decrying the loss of human rights and dignity.
There should be a memorial of this kind in every city of our nation.   It left me feeling more stronger than ever that we should not let our government lead us down paths which build walls, restrict immigrants fleeing poverty and war, or deny health, food or education to its own people.

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