Anne Frank Essay

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Anne Frank

The main points of an Anne Frank unit in a college-level history course will be much different than they would be for a middle school or high school level course. Likewise, the parameters of the history discipline would influence the approach to The Diary of a Young Girl, which might be treated from a literary point-of-view in an English class. At the college level, the instructor has the opportunity to explore several aspects of Anne Franks' diary in depth. Discussions can be provocative and challenging, encouraging students to voice concerns, opinions, and perspectives. The instructor would also be able to synthesize The Diary of a Young Girl with similar first hand testimonies from the Holocaust.

History professors might also opt to treat The Diary of a Young Girl in the broader context of social oppression or Jewish history in particular. It is this last perspective that I would select as the focus for the unit. The Diary of a Young Girl can and should be viewed as one among many historiographies that illuminate the nature of oppression and social control. In this light, Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl can be presented and analyzed alongside slave narratives and similar documentary evidence. Doing this would offer poignant insight into how oppressed groups of people (a) survived physically; (b) survived socially, maintaining cohesion and traditions; (c) impacted individuals such as Anne Frank.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Essay on Anne Frank Assignment

Main points of the proposed college-level history lesson would include the following. First, I would offer background information about Jewish history and anti-Semitism. Instead of starting with Nazism, the unit should start with the anti-Semitism that brewed throughout Europe long before. Anti-Semitism was evident in literature such as in Shakespeare but was most evident in the ghettos and other institutionalized forms of social oppression and segregation. Historical documentation of anti-Semitism throughout history will enhance the content of Anne Frank's diary and offer context for the story. A unit that centers on Anne Frank can also include optional materials that help illuminate the author's story, her sense of personal identity as a Jew, and the history of anti-Semitism. If at all possible, the instructor would be able to access multimedia materials that showed how anti-Semitism was normative even before the Nazis took power, except in relatively socially liberal areas like Amsterdam.

Second, the unit will focus on the issue of Anne Franks' personal identity formation and how her identity ties in with the collective identity of the Jewish people. Identity is a major theme of Anne Frank's diary, especially as it relates to her growing understanding of persecution and human cruelty but also as it relates to national identity or lack thereof. Adding some psychology to the unit on Anne Frank is useful, given that the central text is an autobiography.

Frank's identity was formed in isolation, which is a crucial element of the theme of oppression. Students will be able to explore the effect that physical isolation had on Anne and her family. Motifs such as confinement and darkness recur in the narrative. Physical confinement and similar struggles Frank recounts in the diary still do not capture what Anne and her family went through afterwards in the death camps.

Anne Frank's family's experiences in hiding closely resemble imprisonment. An examination of how environmental factors impact identity formation could be discussed. Parallels could be drawn with slave narratives. Moreover, students will be able to explore the evolution of Jewish identity in particular: and also considering the relative lack of religiosity in Anne Frank's diary. Her writing is filled more with her thoughts about Jewish cultural identity. Jewish identity has always reflected prevailing social and political climates. Thus, Anne Frank also comes to understand that she is a member of an oppressed social group. Students should be able to explore the nature of Jewish solidarity and how the oppressed group was able to cling to its traditions -- and why.

Jewish history and cultural identity is also inextricably linked with the Old Testament story of the exodus. The exodus is a recurring motif in Jewish writings, and in the actual experiences of the Jewish people. Systematic persecution and ultimately the Holocaust epitomize the historic Jewish struggle for survival. Students can research how Jewish identities and self-concepts have changed since the Holocaust, in Europe, North America, and Israel. How have Jewish people managed to retain solidarity in spite of being systematically persecuted? What are the tools Anne Frank uses, and what do those tools say about the human experience in the face of torture?

The third point reaches the deepest part of the lesson, which is about the nature of dominance and oppression throughout history. Here, the introduction of historical theories and sociological theories will be especially important. Also, parallels between Jewish ghettos before the Holocaust and apartheid in South Africa or the segregated communities of the American South could be helpful to explore. The extermination of millions of Cambodians during Pol Pot's regime would also offer an important historical comparison.

Still, the specific trend of anti-Semitism in Europe will be the crux of the unit. Students will use the diary of Anne Frank as one of many emblems of what human beings are capable of: in terms of survival and in terms of persecution and betrayal. A controversial tangent would be to explore what can happen when a massive number of people become complicit in a regime such as Hitler's. To what degree does groupthink become an excuse, if it can ever be an excuse? Students should ideally be able to identify which sociological theories might account for some of the stories in Anne's diary such as the betrayal of the Frank family whereabouts on more than one occasion. In other words, what would cause an individual to divulge information about a family in hiding -- when theoretically the informant had nothing to gain personally. The topic of ethics could be fruitful: what ethical theories were used to justify the persecution of the Jews, if any? At this point in the lesson, students will explore the psychological and sociological theories that might account for the betrayal of the Frank family -- as well as the kindness of those who helped them.

An exploration of how Nazism capitalized on the persecution of the Jews as a political platform would be helpful. This would entail an analysis of the social and political climate of Germany after World War One, and the need for the German people to reach for symbolic solidarity under a common cause. The unit should address issues such as the birth of the nation state and how nationalism played into young Anne's own thoughts about her personal identity. Jews were viewed and treated as outsiders throughout the course of European history.

If Anne is not German, and she is not Dutch, then what is she? Are the Jewish people a nation, and if so how is nation defined? These are some of the crucial historical lessons that provide context to The Diary of a Young Girl. Also, the third part of the unit would ideally address sociological issues in history and how those might tie in with Diary of a Young Girl. For instance, Emile Durkheim's theory of anomie could be explored as it relates to a theory of deviance or to the breakdown of normative ethics.

Ultimately I would be assigning the book as a historical artifact that lends a personal face to the Holocaust. One of the most difficult aspects of teaching the unit on Anne Frank's diary and the Holocaust in general could be addressing the matter of Israel. Great Britain and the United States helped the Jews relocate to the Holy Land, and used their postwar power and military might to do so. The creation of the state of Israel has created tremendous… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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