November 18, 2003


In the fall of 1939, ten-year-old Juanita Wagner of Danville, Iowa began a pen-pal relationship with a girl in the Netherlands: Anne Frank. While Juanita would wonder what had happened to the Frank family during the war, it was only after the 1955 production of The Diary of Anne Frank on Broadway that she realized who her pen pal had been. Today, millions of readers around the world have become familiar with Anne Franks poignant coming of age. Through her diary, published two years after her death at the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, Anne came to represent the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished at the hands of the Nazis.

While Anne and Margot Franks story of hiding has become famous worldwide, their letters to American pen pals Juanita and Betty Wagner on the dawn of World War II have never before been published. They are now featured in Searching for Anne Frank: Letters from Amsterdam to Iowa, a new book by Susan Goldman Rubin, in association with the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance Library and Archives, published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Through firsthand reports and interviews with Juanitas sister Betty Wagner, as well as never-before-published photographs, Searching for Anne Frank weaves the story of two girls one an American Methodist and one a Dutch Jew against the backdrop of pending World War II, its brutal reality, and its aftermath. Although the girls corresponded only briefly, their letters capture a moving moment in Annes life, before the Nazis arrived.

On Sunday, November 23, at 3:30 p.m., the Museum of Tolerance Library and Archives will host the national launch of Searching for Anne Frank: Letters from Amsterdam to Iowa. The program will feature Millie Perkins, who played Anne Frank in the 1959 film, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Academy Award WinnerTM Margaret OBrien, as well as author Susan Goldman Rubin. Anne and Juanitas original pen pal letters will be on display.

To purchase a copy of "Searching For Anne Frank: Letters From Amsterdam To Iowa"click here

The Museum of Tolerance is a high tech, hands-on experience that focuses on two themes through unique interactive exhibits: the dynamics of racism and prejudice in America and the history of the Holocaust the ultimate example of mans inhumanity to man.

For more information, contact the Centers Public Relations department, 310-553-9036.