When Justin Bieber visited the Anne Frank House ten years ago, it became
something of a PR fiasco for the young American pop star.

For as he left, he wrote these words in the guestbook: “Truly inspiring to
be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have
been a belieber.” Belieber being the name given to the star’s biggest fans,
his inscription was attacked as incredibly crass. But my mother defended

Having grown up in the same community as the Franks (they were friends
from the synagogue Otto helped found), Mum did not see Anne quite as
we see her. Though she recognised her as an icon, Mum had known her as
just an ordinary girl. Or as my Aunt Ruth put it: “Just a kid in the class”.
She saw that this, as much as her brilliant writing, is what made Anne
Frank important. Anne quite possibly would have been a belieber.

Anne was special but it is her ordinariness that is poignant. She stands for
all the ordinary people who suffer from murderous ideology, from bigotry,
from violence.

I’ve told this story quite a few times, but thinking about it now there is
another part to it. And it is about my Mum rather than Anne.

My Mum believed that little was more important than generosity of spirit,
particularly among friends and allies. That we should do our best to see
each other’s good intentions and understand each others motives. She
resisted the urge to criticise those who were trying hard to advance a
common cause. She saw the good in things and in people. She always
urged me: “Don’t look at the emmental cheese and only see the holes”.

I know how proud and supportive she would be of the modern work of the
Anne Frank Trust. She would have loved its own generosity of spirit. She
was and would have been its ally.

When her father Alfred Wiener retired from his library in 1961 he said
this: “We have always believed that it is no good to isolate antisemitism
from all other forms of intolerance and hatred in human relations, and that
one cannot successfully combat anti-Jewish prejudice, while ignoring the
colour bar or other manifestations of racialism.”

Quite right too. And thank you to the Anne Frank Trust for understanding this.