Anne Frank is a bad name for a train
It’s not a bad idea to name high-speed trains after national figures, turning them into “mobile monuments” criss-crossing the country, says David Hesse. But one wonders what genius decided to name one after Anne Frank – in Germany, of all places. It must surely be obvious that, in this context, a famous Holocaust victim is a dubious choice. The Jews were deported to the camps in crowded freight cars and even made to pay their fare, making huge profits for the “Reichsbahn”. The railways are a potent symbol of the massacres, typified by the iconic image of the tracks leading to Auschwitz, where Frank was first sent, before dying months later in Bergen-Belsen. It’s a particularly odd gaffe for the Deutsche Bahn, the Reichsbahn’s “polite and reserved” successor, to make. It says it ran an online poll to identify 25 suitable candidates and that Frank was among those who got the most votes; a jury made the final selection. Weirdly, she was cited as a symbol of tolerance and “peaceful coexistence”, not what most of us would think of in the context of the Holocaust. Of all the famous people the railways could have chosen, how unthinking to choose one it “drove to her death”.