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Prize for educational projects about National Socialism

The inflammatory slogans of hatred once again being spread on a large scale today by right-wing populists and right-wing extremists bear a shocking resemblance to Nazi propaganda. The extreme Right’s xenophobia, anti-Semitism and obliviousness to history are now penetrating mainstream society. It is the task of the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism to educate the public about the Nazi era and to make clear where the inhuman ideology of the Right has its roots.

From 2018 onwards the Documentation Centre will award a prize for outstanding publications, activities or projects that make a major contribution to educating the public about National Socialism, about the crimes of the Nazi regime and about the consequences and continuing impact of the Nazi era. The prize, worth 8,000 euros, will be awarded every two years.

In selecting the projects the jury will be looking for high-quality contributions with a broad social impact that are both in tune with the times and oriented towards the future. A jury of experts from German-speaking countries and honorary members of the City Council will propose national and international publications and projects for discussion and then recommend a candidate to receive the prize. The final decision about the selection of the winner will be taken by the City Council.

Prize winners 2018 – ‘Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation’ by Ari Folman and David Polonsky

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation’ by Ari Folman and David Polonsky has won a prize awarded by the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism for the first time in 2018. ‘Anne Frank’s Diary’ is one of the most important documents of the Holocaust. Its adaptation as a graphic novel follows the current trend of using alternative methods to convey difficult subjects like war or persecution. Employing a visual aesthetic familiar to teenagers, it zooms in on historic events to show them with a close-up directness; at the same time, the graphic realisation produces an alienating effect, distancing the reader from history. This dialectic of immediacy and distance opens up a space in which to portray and convey emotions, fears and hopes and to show the inner world – the thoughts and experiences – of this young girl hiding from the Nazis.

Anyone who thought there was nothing new to say about Anne Frank’s diary is in for some surprises from Folman and Polonsky in whose narrative and drawings the story of the Amsterdam backyard is retold with extraordinary vitality, conveying the feeling of claustrophobia, the lack of privacy, the silent conflicts and the danger posed by news from outside that time and again brings Anne’s complex, yet monotonous everyday life into sharp focus. The visual depiction of Anne’s inner life as she responds to her environment, sometimes with irony, sometimes with derision and increasingly with dejection, is particularly impressive. The images, most in colour, a few in sepia, bring home to readers the fears, emotions, day dreams, memories and hopes for the future of this intelligent young girl; but increasingly also her nightmarish fantasies, which grow out of the ever more detailed reports about the camps and the imminent threat of annihilation.

‘Folman and Polonsky’s “Diary of Anne Frank” brings together central aspects of the work of the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism at the interface between knowledge, education and art. The authors have translated the history of the Holocaust into an artistic language that enables readers to comprehend the unimaginable and the unutterable. The powerful effect of their haunting images reaches even those readers who have little knowledge of history or reading ability. To address this difficult subject requires a great deal of courage, sensitivity and skill from the artist. Folman and Polonsky have made a valuable and pioneering contribution to efforts to create a continually evolving, lively culture of remembrance’, the jury stated, explaining why it had chosen to award them the prize.

‘Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation’ will be available in all Munich public libraries from Monday, 4 February 2019.

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