KIRSTEN KUMPF BAELE, Ph.D., is a lecturer in the German Department (CLAS) whose research and teaching focuses on Anne Frank. She authored the application to the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect in New York City, which works collaboratively with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, to shepherd the chestnut saplings.
Dr. Kumpf Baele has worked diligently at sharing Anne’s tragic but inspiring experience and her humanitarian message with her students. In 2017, she developed a University of Iowa general education course (Anne Frank and Her Story) in the category “Diversity and Inclusion” which focuses on Anne and other adolescent writers during the Holocaust. In 2018, she presented at the University of Amsterdam a paper on the representation of trees in Holocaust literature. She applied to and was selected for an Andrew W. Mellon funded project to create a story through which to share Anne’s message in the digital liberal arts.
In honor of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), in April 2018 she presented a talk, “Anne Frank and Other Teen Stories from the Shoah,” at the local synagogue, Agudas Achim. When local performing arts centers, the Iowa City Community Theater and Theater Cedar Rapids respectively, staged the Diary of Anne Frank, Kumpf Baele incorporated student assignments that helped curate lobby spaces. Furthermore, she has served on panels such as “Us and Them, Prejudice and Persecution” to discuss issues of discrimination in past, present, and future contexts. Her chapter “What to Lea(f) In, What to Lea(f) Out: Pedagogical Opportunities of a Cultural Icon—Anne Frank’s Chestnut Tree” will be published in The Construction and Dynamics of Cultural Icons, edited by Erica van Boven and Marieke Winkler by Amsterdam University Press in spring 2021.
Currently, she is working on a joint project with an associate professor at Ghent University that examines how university students at Ghent University and at the University of Iowa remember and participate in stories about the Holocaust and larger human rights issues particularly through their involvement in community projects. Also, Kumpf Baele is developing a short-term study abroad program in Anne’s name which will include stops in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen to serve as a supplement to her popular seminar.
The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies is working with Kumpf Baele to plan and organize events associated with the Anne Frank sapling. Kumpf Baele was in the Obermann Center’s Faculty Institute and has attended multiple trainings regarding community engaged scholarship and teaching via the Center. Associate Director Jennifer New is shepherding the project at the Center.