Sir Michael Morpurgo pays tribute to Anne Frank ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day

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Sir Michael Morpurgo pays tribute to Anne Frank ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day

'What books she might have written had she lived, can you imagine?" asks beloved author, poet and former children's laureate at emotional event for Anne Frank Trust.

Pic: Antonio Salgado
Pic: Antonio Salgado

Beloved children’s writer Sir Michael Morpurgo has spoken of how powerfully Anne Frank’s diary impacted his own life at an annual lunch for the Anne Frank Trust.

Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January, more than 400 guests attended the charity event at London’s Hilton Park Lane to support the organisation, dedicated to empowering 10- to 15-year-olds to challenge all forms of prejudice through Anne’s diary entries.

Young students from schools in Blackburn and Cheshire shared their stories of education and empowerment through the Anne Frank Trust ambassador programme, followed by a moving candle lighting ceremony and one minute silence reflection led by BBC presenter Jo Coburn.

Guest speaker Sir Michael Morpurgo, author of more than 150 books including War Horse, delivered an impassioned address. “I am, ” he began, “a war baby, born on 5th of October 1943. Anne Frank probably died on 31st of March 1945. We shared this world for only a few months.”

Pic: Antonio Salgado. Left to right: Annabel Schild, Eve Kugler, Alphonsine Kabagabo, Michael Smith, Emma Levy.

He learned about the Holocaust through reading Anne Frank’s Diary, saying: “Her face was on the opening page looking out at me. She wrote directly to me, confiding in me, telling me how it was to be her, how she was enduring her imprisonment in her attic in Amsterdam, the tedium, the frustration, the dread, the anger, the memories, the friends and relations, the hope, the longing to be free again, for liberation to come. It was her living testimony. And it lives on today.”

“The last page of her diary is the last we hear of her. She is simply not there any more. We knew before we ever read it that she had died, that these were to be her last words. Once read it is never forgotten.”

Pic: Antonio Salgado

Other speakers included Nicola Cobbold, Chair of the Anne Frank Trust UK, an appeal from Daniel Mendoza, the charity’s outgoing honorary vice president, and chief executive officer Tim Robertson.

Michael Morpurgo with Anne Frank Trust UK ambassadors. 18th January, 2024, London Hilton Park Lane. Pic: Michelle Rosenberg

Candle lighters included 37-year old primary school teacher Michael Smith, the victim of a violent homophobic attack in 2023; Emma Levy, a first year student at Leeds University who confronted anti-Israel sentiment on campus two days after the 7th October atrocities; Annabel Schild, the daughter of Holocaust survivor Rolf Schild, (who together with his wife Daphne, co-founded the charity and hosted the first ever Anne Frank Trust lunch in 2003), Alphonsine Kabagabo, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi and Kindertransport refugee Eve Kugler.

Click here to read more about the work of Anne Frank Trust UK.

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