Anne Frank in the World, 1929 - 1945 Teacher Workbook

Teachers' Notes

The Anne Frank Journal is an American adaptation of the Anne Frank Krant that is published in Holland. The Anne Frank Krant is published by the Anne Frank Center every year on May 5th. On this day the liberation from the Nazi regime is celebrated in Holland. In the Anne Frank Krant the history of the rise and fall of the Nazis is told, together with the story of Anne Frank. Information is also given about current forms of racism, discrimination and neo-Nazism.

Working with the Anne Frank Center in New York, and with the help of American educational experts, we have adapted the text and illustrations of the Anne Frank Krant for use in middle and secondary schools in the United States. We expect the Journal to be appropriate for use in subjects like English, History, Social Studies, and Moral Education. The Journal is best used in projects that combine several of these subjects.

Approach & Aims
The premise of the Anne Frank Journal is that the study of history is most meaningful when it has significance for present day society. The Journal examines the history of the period 1929-1945 on the scale of the individual as well as on the larger scale of political developments. The story of Anne Frank is the story of an 'ordinary' girl who became a victim of a regime that believed in the principle of racial superiority.

The history of Nazi Germany is the history of a country that expelled Jews and other so-called 'inferior' people from society, oppressed them, and finally exterminated them. It was a slow process that started in a small way and ended on a dreadful and gigantic scale. The Journal is concerned with the way the process began and with how people reacted to the Nazis: with indifference, resignation, selfishness, or resistance.

The Anne Frank Journal stresses the need for every individual to make a choice, not only with regard to what happened in the past, but also with regard to what is happening today when people are often still treated as second-class citizens because of their descent, when racist groups try to blame minorities for all problems, and when racial violence (by organized racists and 'ordinary' people) is common.

General Suggestions

Series of Lessons

  • Ask the students what questions they have after reading the Journal.
  • Select the subjects that you consider to be the most important. Select the articles accordingly so that they center around the theme you want to emphasize.
  • Work towards a final product. This might be:
    • a report by the students about the lessons
    • an essay or talk by the students on the theme
    • a wall poster or collage made by students
    • an exhibition for other classes or students
    • any other art-craft work that's appropriate
    • the writing and staging of a play by the students with discrimination as the theme
    • the formation of an anti-racist group
  • Supply background information. Contact the local library (or exhibition committee) beforehand and ask whether they can provide clippings and information on fascism and racism. Also, depending on their knowledge, the students may need more background information on the history of the Second World War.
  • Create a certain atmosphere. When you work with these themes it is helpful to make the atmosphere in the classroom appropriate for the subject. For instance, place posters and photographs on the walls.
  • Let the students collect their own information. Students will be more involved if they can collect their own information and have to make an effort to get it. They can make interviews or collect clippings on racism and fascism.
  • Invite a guest speaker. Oral information will enliven the lessons enormously. A meeting with a guest speaker (preferably a survivor of the resistance or the concentration camps) is usually quite impressive for students. Also, videotapes of people who remember the period are helpful teaching tools.
  • Be alert for information that needs further exploration. Leave time at the end of the project for the students.

'It's really a wonder that I haven't dropped all my ideals.'

  • Find quotations in Anne Frank's diary which you think will appeal to your students. Each quotation can serve as material for discussion.
  • Try to make the students imagine what it would be like hiding in the Secret Annex. What would you miss? What would the constant threat and fear do to you?
  • Write the following text on the blackboard:
    I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up to the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again. -- (July 15, 1944)
  • Ask the students: Have Anne Frank's words come true?

We Are Not Going to Take It

  • Discuss the various reactions to the Nazi occupation of Holland and the persecution of the Jews.
  • Discuss the various motives people could have had for joining the resistance. The resistance operated in several ways, on a small and large scale, and people had a lot of different reasons to hate the Nazi occupation.
  • Show several pictures of resistance activities. Discuss the risks these actions implied.
  • Discuss the roles of the people who helped the Frank family hide in the Secret Annex. Why would the helpers have done this? Ask the students to imagine what this would take.
  • Ask the students to name and discuss people who help others in emergency situations nowadays. What do the students think they themselves would or could do to help other people in a risky situation?

The Rise and Fall Of the Nazis
It should be emphasized that the Nazi's were elected with 6.4 million votes, a plurality.

  • Ask the students what reasons are given in the Journal for why so many people would support Hitler. Why did the rest of the Germans (and the other political parties) not unite against him?
  • Discuss the poem by Martin Niemoller:
    First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
    It should be emphasized that the Germans were not a unity and that there was a choice for each German citizen. Millions of them did support the Nazis, or did not protest out of fear. There were also those who organized resistance.
  • Discuss the problems in Germany between the wars and the effect these problems had on the rise of the Nazis and the subsequent militarization and persecution of Jews and political opponents. Emphasize that there are no simple answers to these questions.

Summing Up
Racism is not just a matter of neo-Nazi propaganda. It is important to stress that, though racism is a keystone in fascist thought, action against neo-Nazism is not identical to fighting racism.

Read the sentence:

People will spot a problem and will not rest until they have found a scapegoat to blame it on.

  • What examples are given in the text that indicate that Jews were used as scapegoats by the Nazis?
  • Let the class give examples of groups that are used as scapegoats nowadays.
  • Let the class develop a description of what happens when people are made scapegoats.

Ask the question: Could today's racism lead to something like the Holocaust?

Return to the quote from the diary that you put on the blackboard and ask the students their opinions after going through the whole Journal.

Anne Frank Center
106 East 19th St. 4th Floor
New York, NY 10003
(212) 529-9532