Our story goes back to the fall of 1939 when a Danville teacher, Miss Birdie Mathews, initiated a pen pal exchange for her class. Ten year old Juanita Wagner picked a name from a list of pen pals. She chose a girl her own age who lived in Amsterdam. The girl’s name was Anne Frank.
Danville, Iowa is one of two places in the world to view the pen pal letters. These letters are on display at the Danville Museum.
Visiting the Anne Frank Connection is a moving experience. The self-guided museum takes guests on a story starting in the 1920s. See what is happening in Danville, Iowa as well as the entire United States in the pre-WWII years. The parallel journey of Anne's family and the events in Europe are also chronicled along this timeline leading to the Holocaust and World War II. View Anne and Margot Frank's pen pal letters to the Wagner girls in Danville, Iowa. Enjoy the exhibit area dedicated to these pen pal letters, the girls who wrote them and Miss Birdie Mathews. Next step through the bookcase into Anne's time in hiding. The exhibit concludes with Postcards: A Memorial for Children.
Visitors are welcome during Library hours. Even if visiting during Library hours, please make advance arrangements for larger groups. Additionally, appointments may be made outside of Library hours for groups. School field trips and bus tours are welcome.
Cost: students $2, adults $4
Average time spent at the Anne Frank Connection: 1-2 hours
Eva Schloss is a Holocaust survivor, peace activist, international speaker, teacher and a humanitarian.
She is also the step-sister of Anne Frank who wrote the book “The Diary of Anne Frank”.
Eva has an incredible story of survival, grit, loss and ultimate triumph of the human spirit against all odds. She survived escape from her homeland in Austria, two years in hiding in Amsterdam, capture on her 15th birthday, nine months in Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, repatriation to Holland, the death of her beloved father and brother… and the poison of bitterness, the burden of grief, the integration of loss.
Forty years after the end of World War II Eva began to share her story. She has since written three books and spoken to more than one thousand audiences about her experiences.
Eva visited Danville, Iowa in May of 2018.
Part of our Anne Frank exhibit includes paintings created in hiding by Erich and Heinz Geiringer. Before the war, the Geiringers, Erich and Fritzi and their children, Heinz and Eva, lived in the same apartment building as Anne Frank and her family. In July 1942, the Geiringers went into hiding, and Erich and Heinz began painting to occupy their endless hours of isolation. Before the family was discovered, they were able to hide the paintings. Erich and Heinz died in Auschwitz but Fritzi and Eva survived and retrieved the paintings. The Quad City Jewish Federation generously donated the 30 reproduction paintings done by Erich and Heinz to the Danville Station.
The original paintings are in the Dutch Resistance Museum in Amsterdam. Copy and paste the youtube address below to learn more.