Since its debut in 1956, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett’s play “The Diary of Anne Frank,” has been used to educate audiences around the globe about the Holocaust.
Sadly, not everyone has learned the play’s lessons.
On August 10, an unknown vandal spray-painted a red swastika on a billboard advertising the Melbourne-based Peridot Theater Company’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” SBS News reported. The vandal struck on the day of the play’s opening night.
The company, which reported the incident to police and cleaned up the sign, posted on Facebook to say its staff were “Upset, angry” and “disgusted” by the act.
Peridot told Newsweek the community reached out with messages of support after the vandalism, and that many showed up to see the show, which dramatizes the life of Anne Frank, her family and their compatriots hiding from the Nazis in a hidden apartment in Amsterdam. According to the company, the play’s Sunday matinee was “virtually sold out.”
“The despicable vandalism just underlines the fact that stories such as Anne Frank’s still need telling,” the company told Newsweek.
Dr. Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, an Australian civil rights organization committed to fighting anti-Semitism and hate, responded to the vandalism in a statement published by SBS News.
“This shameful and cowardly desecration of Holocaust remembrance is clearly driven by hate-mongers and bigots who wish to destroy Anne Franks’ [sic] enduring legacy and her words of courage and hope that have inspired so many around the world,” Abramovich said, adding that it was “an attack on the memory on the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis and will shock the conscience of every Australian.”
The defacement of the billboard follows an earlier act of anti-Semitic vandalism in the area. In April, in the runup to the country’s federal elections, Melbourne residents discovered posters for Treasurer of Australia Josh Frydenberg’s campaign scrawled with Hitler mustaches and devil horns. On one sign, an unknown vandal wrote words “right wing fascist [sic].”
Speaking to Newsweek, a spokesperson for the Peridot Theater quoted Frank: “Anne wrote: ‘I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.’” On its Facebook page, the company emphasized that it was an “honored to tell Anne’s story,” adding that “We say NO to hate.”
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture fellow. He can be reached at email@example.com