The diary of Anne Frank, records of the Ashkenazic Jewish community in Mexico, and the Magna Carta are among the 35 documents of exceptional value that were added to a United Nations register on Friday.
The additions to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Memory of the World Program bring the total number of inscriptions since 1997 to 193. UNESCO’s director-general, Koïchiro Matsuura, announced the additions of these items during a three-day meeting of the International Advisory Committee (IAC) of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program, which ends July 31 in Barbados.
The Memory of the World Register features documents marking significant contribution to world culture. The documents are identified by the International Advisory Committee and endorsed by the director-general of UNESCO in order to be included.
New inscriptions on the Memory of the World Register include the diary of Anne Frank. The 12-year-old girl wrote about her daily life in hiding in the attic of a Netherlands home during the Holocaust. She described her life during the two years that she, her family and four other people, all Jews, lived in hiding from Nazi persecution, before they were betrayed and deported. Her diary is one of the top 10 most read books worldwide.
UNESCO also added to its cultural registry records of Ashkenazic (European) Jews in Mexico between the 16th and 20th century. The collection consists of 16,000 volumes, mostly in Yiddish and Hebrew, but also in Polish, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Russian and other languages relating to Ashkenazic culture. It preserves and disseminates a European Jewish culture that almost disappeared during the Nazi era. It also safeguards the memory of the community of Jews who arrived in Mexico from Central and Eastern Europe.
Showing a form of even-handedness, the UN also included photo and film archives from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Since the inception of the agency 60 years ago, UNRWA’s Public Information Office has produced photographs and films covering all the stages of the history of what the UN calls “Palestine refugees.” The collection documents the establishment of functional camps in the 1950s, the flight of Arabs during the Six Day War in 1967, the civil war in Lebanon, and the two intifadas (Arab uprisings) in the late 80s and in 2000.
UNRWA was established to assist Arab refugees throughout the Middle East. Among the recipients are children and grandchildren of the original “refugees,” including many Arabs who live in permanent homes. Arab states provide less than 3% of the annual budget of UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East. By contrast, Western countries cover some 95% of the organization's finances each year.