Before we read Anne Franks Diary, you will learn some facts about her. Begin by reading the text below. I have made a glossary for you to use, if needed. You find it on the last page. Look up any other words you don´t know in a dictionary.
The reason we know so much about Anne Frank is because of her diary – which was first published as a book, in Dutch, in 1947. Since then, millions of people have read the thoughts and hopes of one young girl and have been inspired by them. But why? Who was she? And why is her diary so important?
Anne Frank's Life
Anne was born in 1929. She had one sister, Margot, who was 3 years older. Anne, Margot and their parents lived in Frankfurt in Germany until Anne was four. In 1933 in Germany, the Nazi party came to power, led by Adolf Hitler. They were a violent political party who hated and victimised many groups in society – often Jewish people, who were blamed for many of the social problems in Germany. Anne and her family were Jewish so in 1933 they had to move to Amsterdam in The Netherlands to escape from the persecution of the brutal Nazis. After a few happy years in Amsterdam, World War 2 broke out – Germany attacked Poland, and the German army went through Europe taking over country after country. The Netherlands never expected to be attacked by their neighbours, but the country was invaded and taken over in 1940. Now the Nazis’ policies against Jews would be put in place there too.
“After May 1940…the trouble started for the Jews. Our freedom was severely restricted by a series of anti-Jewish decrees: Jews were required to wear a yellow star; Jews were required to turn-in their bicycles; Jews were forbidden to ride trams or in cars, even their own…Jews were forbidden to go to theatres, cinemas or any other forms of entertainment; Jews were forbidden to use swimming pools, tennis courts, hockey fields or any other athletic fields…You couldn’t do this and you couldn’t do that, but life went on…” 20 June 1942
These words come from Anne’s diary. In 1942, after Anne and her family had lived by the rules set by the Nazi party for two years, they went into hiding to escape from the persecution, imprisonment and maybe even death by the cruel Nazis. Just before the family hid themselves away, Anne’s parents bought her a present for her birthday, June 12th. It was a red checked diary - a special journal to record all her thoughts and dreams. It was just what she had asked for. She took this new prized possession with her into hiding and spent over two years writing in it nearly every day at her desk in her new bedroom. This is what she wrote about receiving her diary on her birthday in 1942:
“I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.” 12 June 1942
However, Anne’s story does not have a happy ending. After they had been hidden away from the world for over two years, without being able to go outside or make loud noises – Anne and her family were betrayed. Somebody had told the Nazis where they were hiding. They were taken by the Dutch police from their hiding place and were sent to concentration camps in Eastern Europe with thousands of other Jews, black people, homosexuals, gypsies and others. They were kept imprisoned in atrocious conditions. Millions of people died in the camps - including Anne and Margot Frank, and their mother, Edith. Her father, Otto Frank, was the only member of her family to survive. When Otto returned to Amsterdam he found Anne’s diary. When he realised Anne would never come home, he decided to publish it as a book, so people would remember his daughter, and the millions of other men, women and children who died in the Holocaust.
The Diary and its Legacy
Anne’s diary is important in many ways to many people - historians often regard her diary as an important historical document of the period. And teachers use Anne’s words to talk about feelings, about growing up and family relationships because Anne wrote about all of these things. Anne’s diary is still an inspiration to people today because even though Anne knew was happening to her Jewish friends and neighbours, and even though she was trapped in her hiding place, Anne always believed in the true goodness of people. The words and ideals of this young girl from sixty years ago remind us that we need to respect each other and appreciate and understand each other's differences.
“It’s difficult in times like these; ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” 21 July 1944
Anne Frank and You and You and You...
A young woman recently said this about Anne’s diary:
“I first read Anne's diary when I was 15. I am now 19 and of all the books in the world I cherish her diary most. Although she was not a philosopher, a Nobel Prize winner, or a great contemporary thinker, she has influenced me as no one else could. I feel strongly that the diary has become a part of me. It has made me aware of myself. I now realise my shortcomings, my needs, my longings. I am not afraid anymore. And, like Anne, I want to do things with great force, great determination."
Anne's story and her diary are very powerful and affect people in different ways at different times. The Anne Frank Trust UK wants to know what Anne and her diary mean to you, so to let us know what you think, email: [email protected]
References: www.freedomwritersmovie.co.uk, www.annefrank.org.uk
Anne Frank´s Story
Answer the following questions. Write the answers on a computer. Write both the question and the answer.
Pretend you´re talking to someone who is clueless about European history. Explain to him/her how the Nazis treated the Jews.
Anne was German. Why did she and her family live in the Netherlands?
What happened when Germany attacked Poland?
On June 1942 Anne writes about different laws directed against Jews. Which of these decrees would you find most hurtful if you had to obey them?
Why did the Frank family decide to go into hiding?
Why didn´t Anne and her family stay in the attic until the war was over?
What happened to Anne´s mother and sister?
List some of the other groups in society who could be sent to concentration camps
Explain the phrase”atrocious conditions” using English words. What does it mean?
Why, and when, was Anne’s diary published as a book?
”Holocaust” is a word that is connected to Anne’s fate. Can you explain the word?
Violent Victimized Jewish, Persecution Severely Restricted Required Imprisonment Prized possession Checked Confide in Betrayed Gypsies Atrocious Neighbours Cherish Impractical Contemporary Shortcomings Determination våldsamt trakasserade Jew judiska, jude förföljelse kraftigt, allvarligt begränsad begärd, tvingad fängslande, fångenskap älskad/omtyckt ägodel rutig lita på förrådd Romer förfärliga grannar vårda, troget hålla fast vid opraktisk nutida brist beslutsamhet