A German town’s plan to rename a children’s daycare centre that was originally named in honour of Jewish Holocaust victim Anne Frank appears to have been scrapped or at least put on hold.
Centre managers proposed changing the name of the Anne Frank Centre in the town of Tangerhütte, 120 kilometres west of Berlin in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, to the World Explorer Kindergarten because migrant residents allegedly complained they couldn’t explain Anne Frank’s significance to their children.
The Christian Post reports the name change was part of a diversity initiative amid a spike in anti-Semitic crimes in Germany following the Hamas attacks on Israel and the resulting war in Gaza. The facility’s director reportedly told a local newspaper the centre wanted a name without a “political background.”
News of the proposed renaming spread far and wide, sparking an outcry in Germany and Israel and among the Jewish diaspora. The mayor of Tangerhütte, Andreas Brohm, was bombarded with complaints from German politicians and Jewish groups. He has since been quoted as saying the daycare centre had decided to end the discussion and the local council was poised to block any proposed name change.
The mayor is aware that his town has suffered considerable reputational damage. Angry phone calls, emails and letters held him responsible for the town turning its back on arguably the world’s best known Holocaust victim.
One letter from the International Auschwitz Committee read: “When people, especially in these times of renewed anti-Semitism and far-right extremism, are prepared to nonchalantly clean up their own history and consider the name of Anne Frank to be no longer desirable in the public space, it sets off alarm bells and sends out warnings concerning the fate of remembrance culture in our country.”
The childcare facility had been known as the Anne Frank Centre since the 1970s.
The Jewish girl was 16 when she died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 just before Germany’s defeat in World War II. Her best-selling diary chronicles how her family hid from the Nazis inside a secret annex of their Amsterdam home for two years before being discovered. The diary was first published in 1947.