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The Diary of Anne Frank

Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett

Theme: The Holocaust
Grades: Grades 7-8

The play The Diary of Anne Frank is a reenactment of events from the diary of a Jewish girl who hid with her family from the Nazis in Holland. For decades this award-winning play, along with the diary on which it is based, has been viewed as an insightful portrait of courage, dignity, and perseverance.

  1. Small-Group Work: Projecting.
    Divide the class into groups of three to five students. Ask each group to think about what problems would likely evolve from living under the circumstances they will shortly read about -- hiding for several years with people who are basically strangers and with very little space, major restrictions on noise, and no opportunity to go outside. Each group should report back with two or three conflicts that they envision as inevitable. The class can then discuss the similarities and differences in group responses.
  1. Linking to Today; Conflicts Between Groups.
    Ask students to create two columns on their paper and to label one column "Part of World" and one column "Description of Conflict." What conflicts are they aware of today or in recent years that have pitted one group of people against another? Students' answers may include Afhanistan, Ireland, Rwanda, the Middle East, Bosnia -- to mention just a few trouble spots. What, if anything, do these conflicts have in common and how do they relate to the Nazis' "war" against the Jews?
  1. Making Numbers Meaningful.
    How can students grasp the enormity of genocide involving six million people? Challenge students who enjoy working with numbers to come up with a math equivalent for helping their classmates to appreciate what that number means -- in terms they can relate to. How does six million people compare to the population of your school? city/town? state? How many football stadiums would be needed to hold six million people? How many train cars in which the prisoners would stand, jammed together for days on end? Encourage students to think of their own standards of comparison.

  1. Visceral Visual.
    Anne liked to write, and so she kept a diary of her emotions. Someone else in Anne's situation might have painted or drawn as a way to express their feelings. Perhaps some students can best respond to Anne's experiences in the Holocaust through the graphic arts. Students may paint or draw pictures of hope or of anxiety or of pain. Encourage them to choose an appropriate medium for their feelings -- paints, pastels, charcoal, or pen and pencil. They may choose to make representational art or abstract art.
  1. Holocaust Survivors.
    Have your students use the internet or the library to locate first-hand accounts of Holocaust survivors. After reading several of them, focus on an element of survivors' experiences that you want to bring to the class's attention -- for example, separation from parents, food supplies in camps, relocation after the war. Have your students prepare a written report in which you discuss one element of the Holocaust as seen by two or more survivors.

  2. War Speeches.
    Have students research speeches by some of the great orators of the World War II period such as Churchill and Roosevelt. Suggest that they try and find the actual speeches on a recording. Encourage students to try to imagine the effect the speeches would have had on the British and American citizens of the time, as well as on people like Mr. Kraler. Students should research the elements that led people to call these orators great and then write a report. Have them consider: would the same speeches, delivered in the same way, have an equal impact today? Why or why not?