In 1941, the Nazis separated all Jewish students and made them attend a special school, the Amsterdam Jewish Lyceum. Theo Coster was a student at this school and one of his classmates was Anne Frank. His family went into hiding, but unlike the Franks, they all survived. He returned to Amsterdam, finished his university studies, and immigrated to Israel, where he married and became a successful businessman. In 2001, Dienke Hondius wrote a book about the Lyceum and invited any surviving students to attend the launch party. Realizing that all of the survivors were now in their eighties, he decided to make a film to document their memories of the war and their impressions of Anne. This book is based on the 1995 film, The Classmates of Anne Frank. It introduces readers to a remarkable group of people who remember Anne as vain and generous, ordinary and creative, rebellious and precocious. Noting that the situation caused children to grow up quickly, this book becomes a tribute to their resilience. Among Anne’s classmates are Albert Gomes de Mesquita, who hid in ten different towns across Europe during the war, and Hannah Goslar, who survived the horrors of Bergen Belsen and reconnected with Anne just before her death. This is a wonderful chance for readers to learn more about Anne Frank as well as to meet other children who survived.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.