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Horror and Truth

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 27, 2006 10:42PM

Spend enough time on the Internet and you’ll find someone making a Nazi metaphor, typically a flip comment about anyone inspiring enough wrath: strict parents, obtuse politicians, that guy who disagreed with you in an online chat. We can’t fathom how a blowhard political commentator or grandstanding Congressman merits comparison with a regime that killed millions of people in concentration camps, so we were relived when Senator Obama denounced this type of rhetoric in the political forum on last week’s Face the Nation. The Third Reich’s atrocities are among the most horrific in history, in no way resembling a soup dispenser or the people who flamed you online.

frankpanel.jpgTwo exhibits opening this weekend quietly put a human face on Nazi genocide. The array of photographs, accounts, and documents in Anne Frank: A History for Today illuminate the everyday life of the Holocaust’s most famous victim. The Spertus Museum show is a multimedia experience, an introduction to Anne Frank’s pre-war life, a meditation on what might have been, and a space for discussion. Author Pat Conroy leads the first discussion at Sunday’s opening, revealing how Frank’s life inspired his work.

The Auschwitz Album: The Story of a Transport opens today at the Field Museum, its first U.S. exhibition since sharing space at the United Nations. These 40 photographs once comprised an SS album smuggled by a survivor who recognized the loved ones she had lost. The exhibit is a rare, in-depth look at that camp’s conscription process. These are the images—ordinary people unaware of their fate—that will continue to shape our understanding of the Holocaust, arguably making a deeper emotional impact than the grisly aftermath.

Anne Frank: A History for Today is at the Spertus Museum, 618 S Michigan Ave, January 29 – May 28. Museum admission is $10 families, $5 adults, $3 for kids, students and seniors. Fridays are free. More info at

The Auschwitz Album is at the Field Museum, 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, through May 31. Museum admission is $10-12, $6-7 for children and seniors, kids under 4 are free. More info at

Image via the Anne Frank Center.