Anne Frank in the World, 1929 - 1945 Teacher Workbook

Anna's Dilemma

What Would You Do?
Not all Germans supported the Nazi program. Some actively opposed it. Others were silent in their opposition. Some were put to the test. Anna is a German citizen who lives with her husband, Wilhelm, and their three small children in a comfortable home in Munich, Germany. Munich in 1938 is a center of Nazi activity in Germany. Anna's husband is a high-ranking civil service employee and a member of the Nazi party. Wilhelm's high paying job was a reward for his loyalty to the party. Although Anna leads a comfortable life and is happily married, she disagrees with the Nazi philosophy and her husband's party activities. She especially deplores the anti-Jewish laws and decrees that Hitler's government has imposed.

During her childhood, Anna's family developed deep friendships with a number of Jewish families in their town, and Anna learned to respect their cultural and religious differences. By 1938, the Nuremberg laws are in effect and Kristallnacht or "Night of Broken Glass" has recently occurred. Jews in Germany have systematically been stripped of their political, economic, and social rights. Some Jews are attempting to leave the country to avoid what they consider to be eventual catastrophe.

One night, a friend of Anna's approaches her and explains that he is secretly hiding Jews in Munich until he can find transportation for them to leave Germany. This is risky business because it is considered a racial crime against the folk, the German people. Anna's friend asks her to help her by hiding two members of a Jewish family who are wanted by the Nazis. He explains that because of Wilhelm's position, nobody would suspect Anna. Also, Anna's property includes a rarely used guest house located in a wooded corner. Anna is offered about 500 dollars for her cooperation.

Anna is aware than if caught, she and her family could face serious consequences. Also, she could jeopardize her husband's good job and her family's security. On the other hand, she realizes that what the Nazis are doing to the Jews, with widespread public support, is morally wrong. She has long believed that those who remain silent when human rights are being violated are also guilty. Anna's friend tells her that he will come back the next morning for her decision.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What values come into conflict in this story?
  2. What is Anna's responsibility to her husband? Children? The Jews? The government?' The law? Which is greatest? Explain.
  3. Should Anna agree to hide Jews?
  4. How frequently do you think this kind of situation occurred? Why?
  5. Evaluate the following statement "All that is necessary for evil to win out over good is for good men to do nothing." How does this relate to Anna's dilemma?