Israeli TV Adds 'Killed in Auschwitz' to Anne Frank Bio

TV show sets out to highlight public ignorance on Holocaust, ends up showing its own.

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Anne Frank.
Anne Frank.Credit: AP
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

When TV reporters ask passersby questions on the street and air it during prime time, ignorance is often put on display. Channel 2’s “Chai B’Layla” (“Nightlife”) program over the weekend is a good example.

After the Education Ministry announced last week that the Holocaust would now be taught starting in kindergarten, the show’s crew took to a mall to ask people basic questions about the Holocaust.

One question was: When did the Holocaust start? Some of the answers weren’t bad, starting the Holocaust with the first violence against German Jews. These answers included “around 1933,” “1934, I think,” and “when Hitler was in power, 1934” — though “about 30 or 40 years ago” clearly missed the mark.

Answers to “What is a ghetto?” were particularly amusing: “It’s a place, what do you mean?” “There were a few ghettos.” “There were a bunch of Jews there who opposed German rule and such.”

The show didn’t leave viewers guessing; the answers were displayed on screen. Some viewers were sharp enough to notice a mistake by the show’s producers in their answer to the question “Who was Anne Frank?” The on-screen answer read: “A young Jewish girl who wrote a diary while hiding in an attic. She perished at Auschwitz.”

Anne Frank didn’t perish at Auschwitz, she died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen. On August 4, 1944, she was found with others hiding in an Amsterdam house and sent to the Westerbork transit camp, and then on to Auschwitz. Her mother died there a few months later, but Anne and her sister were transferred to Bergen-Belsen, where they died in early March 1945.

On the show’s website, someone made sure to fix the mistake. The current answer reads “perished at a death camp.” But even that’s not totally right. Bergen-Belsen was a concentration camp.

So what was more embarrassing? The answers from the public? One person said: “Anne Frank, that’s the one who smuggled … food?” Maybe it was the confusion by the show’s producers, or host Nadav Bornstein’s comment at the end of the program: “education, education, education.”

The lesson could be that those looking to boost ratings by exposing people’s ignorance should make sure they know what they’re talking about.

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