In 1940, weeks before Amsterdam was occupied by Germany, Anne Frank and her sister Margot wrote letters to eighth graders in Danville, Iowa as part of an international pen pal exchange. Enlarged copies of these documents have been available to view by appointment only, but this year they’ll become more accessible in a museum. It will be in a building called The Danville Station which also houses a new public library that just opened.
Co-chair of The Danville Station board, Janet Hesler, says the Frank letters inspired the creation of a Holocaust exhibit titled The Anne Frank Connection Room.
“Part of the room is actually gonna be, you open the bookcase and then it will lead you back to an area that will be a replica of the attic,” says Hesler.
The letter is the only known document where Anne wrote in English.
“Anne’s father had studied in New York for several years, so he was pretty proficient in English,” says Hesler. “They wrote the letter in Dutch and her dad transcribed that in English and then the girls copied his English.”
For two years her family hid in a small attic of a three-story warehouse before being arrested by the Nazis. Anne extensively wrote about the experience, which was published by her father in 1947. The girls died in a concentration camp.
The museum is expected to open this spring and will have a section dedicated to the Holocaust.