The Anne Frank House announces John Kastner as new Canadian co-ordinator

The Anne Frank House announced earlier this month that John Kasner, retired general manager of the Stratford Perth Museum, is the new coordinator for the Anne Frank House activities in Canada.

Education and reflection on history are crucial elements of the Anne Frank Exhibit, which was displayed twice at the Stratford Perth Museum under Kastner’s management.

“The museum has a really special relationship with the Anne Frank House for so many reasons,” said Kastner. “One was the very significant Dutch community in Perth County, and the other was the role that the Perth regiment played in the liberation of the Netherlands. That was why the Anne Frank House exhibit was held in Stratford twice. Once in 2016 and again after COVID in 2021.”

The Anne Frank House exhibit exemplifies how museums can address social issues through education and how the Anne Frank House and Stratford are connected on more than one level.

Kastner, who recently retired as general manager of the Stratford Perth Museum, has a long relationship with the Anne Frank House dating back to 2016 when he brought the display to the museum for the first time to coincide with the Stratford Festival’s Diary of Anne Frank performance.

“The exhibit really spoke to our partnership and our relationship with the Stratford Festival,” said Kastner. “It was a nudge from the Stratford Festival that said, ‘You know, there's this excellent travelling exhibit. You should try and get it.’ And that started that process. We were successful in getting it, and it was really a fundamental change for the museum because it was of an international nature.”

More than 10,000 people walked through the museum to see the world-famous exhibit, which Kaster notes was one of the most successful and pivotal moments in the museum's history.

“The Anne Frank exhibit was hugely successful, and that really started to change the strategic thinking of the Stratford Perth Museum and create a long-lasting relationship with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.”

The Anne Frank House is an independent organization that manages the house where Anne Frank went into hiding during the Second World War and where she wrote her diaries in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

There are four travelling Anne Frank exhibits in Canada. The travelling exhibitions are part of the mission of the Anne Frank House to increase awareness of her life story all over the world and reflect on the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination, and the importance of freedom, equal rights and democracy.

The exhibit tells the story of Anne Frank, set against the background of the Holocaust, and each panel displays information about the most important developments in that time: the rise of National Socialism, the Second World War and the prosecution of the Jews.

The travelling exhibit is available to museums, schools, municipalities and community organizations. The Canadian Tour of the Anne Frank exhibition is part of the educational program of the Anne Frank House in North America, implemented in close cooperation with a permanent partner, the Anne Frank Center at the University of South Carolina

Amanda Modaragamage, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Stratford Times