Photo via Shankar S./Flickr (CC-BY)
Deutsche Bahn has a series of high-speed trains in the works for Germany, and the rail company plans to name one of them after Anne Frank. But many are advising against the decision since Germany’s railway system was also used to take Frank and others victims to labor and death camps during the Holocaust.
Frank’s name was chosen by a jury from a shortlist that included 25 iconic German figures; trains named after composer Ludwig van Beethoven and writer Thomas Mann are also planned. But as soon as the Anne Frank train was announced, criticism quickly emerged over the insensitivity of what the name-vehicle juxtaposition is a reminder of.
— Julian Reichelt (@jreichelt) October 29, 2017
Criticism against Deutsche Bahn quickly went global, too, with Americans and Western Europeans turning to Twitter in outrage.
Good morning to everyone except whoever thought naming a high speed German train "Anne Frank" was a good idea 😩 pic.twitter.com/AF7Wtt1iW1
— Flavia Dzodan (@redlightvoices) October 30, 2017
Sometimes a good cause comes with bad ideas.
— Rocky Wüst (@rockywuest) November 1, 2017
Maybe let's not name German rail lines after Jews. That seems to be in extremely bad taste, given what Germans used their rail lines for.
— Tomm (@SumTomGoingOn) November 1, 2017
we‘re talking about a train. A TRAIN! that‘s far away from showing humanity or remorse.
— plumos (@somulp) November 1, 2017
The Anne Frank House also spoke out against the train’s naming, reminding Deutsche Bahn that many Germans have family members affected by the Holocaust. Not to mention, plenty of survivors still live in Germany, and the Anne Frank train may remind them of their days under the Nazi regime.
“The combination of Anne Frank and a train evokes associations with the persecution of the Jews and the deportations during the Second World War,” the organization wrote in an official statement. “The combination is painful for the people who experienced these deportations, and causes fresh pain to those who still bear the consequences of those times within them.”
Deutsche Bahn stands by its decision but said it is in talks with Jewish organizations over their concerns.
“It was not our intention at D.B. to disrespect the memory of Anne Frank in any way whatsoever,” it said in a statement. “On the contrary—aware of the historical responsibility we bear, we made a deliberate decision to help keep Anne Frank’s memory alive. We are very sorry if any feelings were hurt as a result of this decision.”