For the 10th year, William Blair was honored to sponsor the annual Anne Frank art competition in Frankfurt featuring young filmmakers from across Germany who presented their films expressing how they view democracy today.

The contest was started as a way for youth to live out the legacy of Anne Frank, a Jewish girl from Frankfurt whose diary of her experiences while hiding from the Nazis during World War II has inspired millions around the world to take a stand against hatred, prejudice, and indifference.

This year’s event was particularly special as the awards ceremony was held on May 19 during Frankfurt’s “Paulskirche Festival,” a four-day celebration of the 175th anniversary of the German National Assembly, which laid the foundation for German democracy.

Addressing the Anne Frank art contest awards ceremony Annette Lorenz (left), with the Evangelical Academy, a partner of the Anne Frank Educational Centre, and TV personality Tobias Krell, one of the judges of the 2023 competition.

Youth submitted videos up to three minutes in length, supporting the central theme of the 2023 contest: young people’s view of democracy. Topics ranged from lowering the voting age in national elections to children’s rights and the future of young people in Germany. Others chose to ask questions of migration, inclusion, and exclusion. Films featured stop-motion and satirical formats, while others emulated the style of news programs or traditional documentaries.

The top award, selected by a panel of judges, went to a group of six teenagers from the Hamburg film association for their film Home. The film consisted of interviews with people walking the streets of Hamburg, who were asked what home means to them.

William Blair and Anne Frank Educational Centre Partnership

William Blair investment banker Philipp Mohr, with the firm’s office in Frankfurt, founded the contest and partners with the Anne Frank Educational Centre in Frankfurt to hold the contest annually.

Since its inception, youth have expressed their ideas through various art forms from posters and paintings to music, comics, storytelling and now films. Themes have also varied—Anne Frank, refugees, democracy, human rights, antisemitism, gender equality, diversity.

“I am thrilled that we had our 10th anniversary of the art contest and that William Blair could be a part of this beautiful journey,” says Mohr. “So many participants, so many themes, such wonderful expressions in various art forms inspired by the legacy of Anne Frank are simply terrific.”

We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.

ANNE FRANK'S DIARY, July 6, 1944

Throughout his life, Mohr has been a student of the Holocaust, working to ensure it never happens again. His master’s thesis was on Hitler’s seizure of power and his Ph.D. dissertation on international law and the persecution of Jewish people at the beginning of the Nazi dictatorship. In September 2022 he was appointed to the Financial Committee of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, which advises the foundation on its endowment fund used to preserve the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, the site of the largest of all Nazi German concentration camps.

The Touch depicts a page from Anne Frank’s diary and the inspiration for the annual contest.

The idea of the contest grew out of a trip Mohr had taken in 2012 when visiting the Jewish Center of the Hamptons, where he encountered a painting by Michael Knigin, The Touch, that depicts a page from Anne Frank’s diary. Captivated by the painting, Mohr purchased it and gifted it to the Anne Frank Educational Centre. That also inspired Mohr to partner with the centre’s leadership to find ways to connect youth with the legacy of Anne Frank. The annual Anne Frank art contest was conceived from those early conversations.

Engaged in Communities Globally

William Blair has a long history of being a long-term partner to the communities where colleagues live and work, beginning when it was founded 88 years ago.

“Our partnership with the Anne Frank Educational Centre is a wonderful example of how William Blair employees are making a difference in the communities where they live and work,” says Nancy Bonges, director of community engagement at William Blair. “Philipp’s commitment of encouraging youth to find a way to carry on the legacy of Anne Frank inspired the partnership and William Blair’s support of the art contest year after year.”

Top photo: Moderator Laura Paloma of the Anne Frank art awards ceremony held during Frankfurt’s “Paulskirche Festival.”