Kitchener-Waterloo

Stratford's Anne Frank stars Holocaust survivor descendant

Actress Sara Farb says the role of Anne Frank is a part she's wanted to play her entire career. Her grandmother and great-grandmother survived escaped Nazi-occupied Lithuania, beating incredible odds.
Sara Farb stars as Anne Frank in Stratford Festival's production of The Diary of Anne Frank. (David Hou/Stratford Festival)

When actress Sara Farb heard through the Stratford Festival rumour mill that The Diary of Anne Frank was to be part of the 2015 season, she was instantly intrigued. 

"It's been a part that I've wanted to play for my whole career," says Farb. 

Farb's great-grandmother and her grandmother, Helen Yermus, survived the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Lithuania, and Farb says that history was always the foundation of her upbringing. 

"I don't even remember like, the day when it was explained to me, what happened [to my grandmother]. It was just an understanding in my family," says Farb. "It was just always what she was; She was my grandmother and a holocaust surivor."

Yermus grew up in Kovno, Lithuania which was annexed in 1941, and turned into a Jewish ghetto. 

"Pretty soon after that they began shrinking the ghetto by doing mass killings, many of which my grandmother and her family miraculously managed to escape," says Farb. 

"The ghetto shrunk so much that the remainder of the ghetto was like living in just a few buildings and then finally they were all removed and taken to the concentration camps."

She says her grandmother and great-grandmother had countless near-death experiences leading right up to the moment when they were liberated by Russian allies. 

Hear that incredible story, and how their experience influenced Farb's interpretation of the role of Anne Frank, in the following interview.

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