Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl recounts the day-to-day experience of a young Jewish girl living in hiding in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II. In 1942, the thirteen-year-old Anne and her family moved to the top floors of a warehouse in the heart of Amsterdam, where they lived for over two years with another family and a man separated from his Christian wife. Anne chronicles life in the Secret Annex in great detail. The diary ends abruptly, just days before the entire group is arrested and deported to concentration camps. Everyone in the group perished, with the exception of Anne’s father, Otto Frank. Miep Gies, one of the people who helped the family while they were in hiding by bringing them fresh food and other supplies, went to the Annex shortly after the arrest and discovered Anne’s diary and other papers. She gathered them up and placed them in a drawer, unread, until after the war. When Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam, she handed them over to him. Although he was initially reluctant to have his daughter’s writing published, he eventually relented, realizing that her story might be of value to others. Anne’s diary has since become one of the most famous first-person accounts of World War II.
Anne writes about her experience in the moment. Her diary has an immediacy that is difficult to achieve when writing from memory. She also writes from the perspective of an adolescent; therefore, many young readers feel a special connection to her. They understand her frustrations with her parents, her desire for independence, and her curiosity about sex and relationships. Identifying with Anne makes it possible for them to more vividly imagine her experience. Finally, Anne is a gifted and insightful writer with an inspiring and almost unwavering sense of hope and optimism. She maintains her faith in humanity and a positive outlook—despite being cut off from any kind of normal life and despite the cruelty of the Nazi regime. After hiding from the Nazis for two years, Anne Frank writes, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart,” a testament to the strength of her spirit.
Anne’s diary can be appreciated on several different levels. For many students, the diary is their first experience in reading a Holocaust-era narrative and serves as a point of departure for discussing that difficult period in history. On another level, it is the story of an exceptionally self-aware young girl chronicling her maturation over the course of two pivotal years of adolescence. When Anne begins her diary, she is a young girl like any other, absorbed by her friends and school. Two years later, she is a mature and thoughtful young woman with well-formulated thoughts on social justice, women’s rights, religion, humanity, and goodness. Although much of what Anne experiences in daily life is impossible for readers to fully grasp, her desire for independence, her journey of self-discovery, her boundless curiosity, and her questions about what sort of person she wants to become can be understood by young people everywhere. Finally, Anne’s diary demonstrates the saliency of first-person narratives as primary documents in the study of history. How is a diary more valuable than statistics? How is one voice more powerful than millions? Why has Anne Frank become one of the defining symbols of World War II?
Anne says at one point, “I want to go on living even after my death!” She explains that her greatest wish is to be a famous writer, and at another time, she expresses her desire to make her voice heard. Although not in the way she ever intended, her powerful voice has indeed been heard, and it continues to resonate. Anne Frank’s hope and humanity continue to be an inspiration to many around the world.
Note: Understanding the historical context of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl is essential to students’ understanding and appreciating the book. The policies of Nazi Germany in World War II that forced Anne into hiding and that resulted in the Holocaust should be reviewed before students read the diary.
By the end of the unit the student will be able to:
1. Describe Anne’s personality and explain why she continues to inspire so many people.
2. Identify the challenges and dangers of life in hiding.
3. Describe how Anne changes over the course of her two years in hiding.
4. Explain why Jewish people were forced to go into hiding during World War II.
5. Discuss why Anne Frank’s diary has become such a renowned account of this period in history.
6. Explain the importance of primary documents as a historical resource.
7. Define the following terms: genocide, the Holocaust, racial “purity”/ethnic cleansing, Nazi Germany, anti-Jewish laws, and concentration camps.
8. Explain how the act of writing can serve as a means of resistance or assertion for the disenfranchised and oppressed.
This eNotes lesson plan is designed so that it may be used in numerous ways to accommodate ESL students and to differentiate instruction in the classroom.
Student Study Guide
- The Study Guide is organized to study the diary in sections. Study Guide pages may be assigned individually and completed at a student’s own pace.
- Study Guide pages may be used as pre-reading activities to preview for students the vocabulary words they will encounter in reading the sections of the diary and to acquaint them generally with their content.
- Before Study Guide pages are assigned, questions may be selected from them to use as short quizzes to assess reading comprehension.
- Study Guide vocabulary lists include words from the diary that vary in difficulty.
1. The vocabulary lists for each section are sufficiently comprehensive so that shorter lists of vocabulary words can be constructed from them.
2. Working from the Study Guide vocabulary lists, the teacher also may construct vocabulary studies for individual students, choosing specific words from each section that are most appropriate for them.
The discussion questions vary in degree of difficulty.
1. Some questions require higher levels of critical thinking; others engage students with less challenging inquiry.
2. Individual discussion questions may be assigned to students working in pairs or in small groups; their contributions may then be added to a whole-class discussion.
Test questions also vary in degree of difficulty.
1. Some multiple-choice questions address the factual content of the diary; others require students to employ critical thinking skills, such as analyzing, comparing and contrasting, and drawing inferences.
2. The teacher may select specific...
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1. Why is it necessary for Anne and her family to go into hiding? What is happening to Jews in Holland and the rest of Europe during this time?
2. What makes Anne such a compelling storyteller? How does her diary invite readers to identify with her?
3. Anne’s father initially refused to authorize publication of Anne’s diary but was later persuaded to do so. Why might he not have wanted to have it published? What might have changed his mind? What do you think Anne would think of her diary being published?
4. Consider the role of those who help Anne’s family. What do you think it is like for them to take care of those in hiding? What are the dangers for them? What impulses or outside forces discourage them from helping Jews? Why do you think they do it?
5. What events—both in the Annex and in the world beyond—keep the inhabitants’ hopes alive and enable them to maintain their sense of optimism?
6. Do you think Anne is as mature as she thinks she is? In what ways does she mature? In what ways is she still a child? What sorts of responsibilities, fears, and concerns might the adults feel in hiding that Anne might not understand?
7. How is reading a first-person account different from reading about World War II in a history textbook?
8. Anne says, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” Why is this a surprising statement?
9. How does Anne change over the course of her two years in hiding?
10. What are sources of comfort and hope to Anne? Where does she turn for inspiration?
11. At one point, Anne says, “I want to go on living even after my death!” How has she managed to do so? How does the survival of her narrative help people who read it?
12. At various times, Anne discusses the idea of her hidden self—the Anne that no...
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ardor: a passion, an eagerness
blithely: casually, in a carefree manner
brooch: a piece of jewelry that is held by a pin or clasp and is worn at or near the neck
brooding: thinking anxiously or gloomily about a subject
capitulation: a surrender, a submission
conditional: uncertain, indefinite, dependent on circumstances or events
confide: to impart secrets, to disclose or reveal privately
decrees: pronouncements, laws, orders
disposition: a temperament, a mood
eminently: to a high degree, exceedingly
enamored: infatuated, smitten
guilders: basic monetary units of the Netherlands until 2002
(The entire section is 679 words.)
alcove: a niche, a nook
blackout screens: screens used to block out all light, making anyone unable to see through them from either direction
concentration camps: camps where particular persons (prisoners of war, political prisoners, or refugees) are detained and confined
conspicuous: very noticeable
dismal: depressing, miserable
distraught: distressed, upset
hypochondriac: a person suffering extreme depression that is centered on imaginary physical ailments
ignoramus: a person who is utterly without knowledge or education, a dunce
incessant: continuous, never-ending
keyed up: tense, anxious
(The entire section is 791 words.)
abide: to stand, to tolerate
admonitions: reprimands, reproaches
appendage: a body part (such as an arm or a leg) connected to the torso
barbaric: brutal, vicious
composure: self-control, self-possession
diffidence: a hesitancy, a shyness
inconceivable: unthinkable, unimaginable
industrious: diligent, productive
momentous: important, significant
paragon: an ideal, an epitome, an embodiment of perfection
prudish: narrow-minded; excessively attentive to manners and extreme modesty
retiring: introverted, shy, timid (referring to disposition)
saboteurs: civilian or enemy agents involved in destructive or...
(The entire section is 713 words.)
aboveboard: legitimate; open and honest
adamant: unwavering, resolute
aggressor: an attacker
antagonize: to provoke, to irritate
bounty: a reward, a prize
consolation: a comfort, a relief
denounced: condemned, pronounced blameworthy
derision: scorn, ridicule
dispossessed: expelled, ejected
egotistical: self-centered, arrogant
fatalistic: based on the belief that events are predetermined and beyond control
indifferent: uninterested, unconcerned
insolent: rude, disrespectful
invariably: always, consistently
lenient: compassionate, merciful
pretext: an excuse, a pretense...
(The entire section is 663 words.)
allotment: a portion, a ration
the Benjamin: the youngest child
clandestine: secret, concealed
Danaïdean vessel: Greek mythology an allusion to the Danaides, who were cursed in the underworld and forced to continually pour water into a leaky vessel; suggests a never-ending task that cannot be accomplished
dictates: commands, orders
dispel: to dismiss, to drive out
estimation: an assessment, an appraisal, a personal opinion
harangue: a tirade, a rant
hypocrite: a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
immemorial: extending or existing since beyond the reach of memory
(The entire section is 879 words.)
conjectured: estimated, speculated
engrossed: absorbed, enthralled
leaden: heavy, weighty, sluggish
neurotic: anxious, irrational, phobic
oppressive: cruel, tyrannical
profanity: vulgar or crude language
reconciliation: a resolution, a restoration of friendship or harmony
spinster: an unmarried woman who is past the common age for marrying
stifling: hot; airless
tempestuous: emotional, uncontrolled, passionate
valerian: an herbal medicine with a calming effect
1. What is Anne’s way of coping with what she doesn’t like?
Anne believes that one should just...
(The entire section is 835 words.)
alluded: referred, made reference
bashful: shy, timid, self-conscious
beseeching: imploring, pleading
bout: an outbreak (usually of sickness); a spell of activity
chastise: reprimand, rebuke
diligently: industriously, attentively
foisted: imposed, forced upon
impasse: a stalemate, a standoff
ironically: paradoxically, contrary to plan or expectation
magnitude: greatness, extent
mercurial: changeable, unpredictable
pomaded: coated with pomade (a greasy or waxy hair-styling substance)
tact: discretion, delicacy
(The entire section is 624 words.)
agitation: anxiety, nervousness
anesthetic: a type of solution that produces numbness or a lack of feeling
blunders: mistakes, errors
curtly: abruptly, rudely
elicited: provoked, caused
fellowship: companionship, friendship
haughtiest: proudest, most arrogant
impartial: unbiased, neutral
indignation: anger and resentment provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment
indulgence: an unrestrained pleasure
Methuselah: the oldest man in the Bible
momentary: brief, temporary
preliminaries: actions or events that precede and prepare for something fuller or more important
proverbial: well-known, commonly...
(The entire section is 476 words.)
amply: thoroughly, fully
compensated: rewarded, paid
conquest: the act or state of conquering (such as capturing land during warfare)
despondent: hopeless, dejected, unhappy
impudent: rude, disrespectful
irrevocably: irreversibly, permanently
magnanimous: generous, noble
ordeals: trials, sufferings
rambunctious: unruly, showing uncontrollable exuberance
raptures: states of ecstasy or passion
sages: those distinguished for wisdom or sound judgment
solace: comfort, consolation
wretched: miserable, pitiful, rejected
yearning: a desire, a...
(The entire section is 560 words.)
alienated: isolated, separated
amends: compensation, recompense
begrudge: to resent, to envy
candid: open, honest
conceited: self-important, proud, arrogant
contemptuous: scornful, sneering
crone: a withered old woman
dastardly: shameful, dishonorable
disparagingly: critically, disapprovingly
dissent: opposition, disagreement
endearing: appealing, engaging
enlighten: to inform, to clarify
forsaken: abandoned, deserted
goad: to provoke, to prod
monopoly: control, domination
regaled: delighted, entertained
surmount: to overcome, to conquer
(The entire section is 349 words.)
bemoan: to lament, to complain
drivel: nonsense, talk or writing that is stupid or careless
ferret: to search, to hunt
foiled: thwarted, blocked
piccalilli: a relish of chopped vegetables and spices
1. How does life in Amsterdam worsen during this time? What assertive actions and what destructive behaviors do the conditions prompt in the citizens?
Life is increasingly difficult in Amsterdam. There are long lines for food, theft is rampant, children are stealing anything they can find, and people are afraid to leave their homes. Anne wonders “what’s suddenly gotten into the Dutch to make...
(The entire section is 363 words.)
confinement: an imprisonment, a quarantine
engulfed: immersed, submerged
epistle: a letter
mestizos: persons of mixed blood; specifically, persons of mixed European and Native American ancestry
peat: moss, compost
swindling: obtaining money or property by fraud or deceit
temperance: abstinence, restraint
transgressors: wrongdoers, offenders
1. What milestone takes place in Anne and Peter’s relationship? How does she feel about the event?
Peter kisses Anne for the first time. She realizes this is an important occasion (“Remember yesterday’s date, since it was a red-letter day...
(The entire section is 551 words.)
abject: miserable, wretched
adage: a saying, a proverb
delusions: misbeliefs, misconceptions
dissension: opposition, disagreement
foreboding: omen or prediction of coming event, portent
laborious: strenuous, hard
merciless: cruel, pitiless
meted: gave out in measured amounts
refrain: a chorus, something that is repeated
revered: respected, admired
smitten: enamored, infatuated
1. What outside event is everyone eagerly awaiting? What do the residents hope this event will mean for them?
Western Europe is eagerly awaiting the Allied invasion when British,...
(The entire section is 560 words.)
berate: to scold, to criticize
broach: to raise a sensitive or difficult subject for discussion
deceit: dishonesty, treachery
flippancy: inappropriate or disrespectful levity or casualness
hygienic: clean, sterile, disinfected
impeccable: flawless, perfect
kindred: close, alike (often in regard to family)
meticulous: careful, scrupulous
predominates: outweighs, dominates
prescription: a designated remedy
purgatory: a place or state of temporary suffering or misery
repatriated: sent back to the country of one’s birth
reprimand: a rebuke, an admonishment
scornful: disdainful, disrespectful...
(The entire section is 475 words.)
1. What becomes of the inhabitants of the Annex?
Someone tips off the police that Jews are hiding in the building. The authorities arrive, discover the hiding place, and arrest all eight of them. They are sent to concentration camps, where all of them perish shortly before the end of the war, with the exception of Mr. Frank.
2. What happens to the helpers?
Mr. Kugler and Mr. Kleiman are both arrested. Mr. Kleiman is released because he is ill, while Mr. Kugler manages to escape. Miep and Bep are not arrested.
3. What does the sudden end of the diary suggest about how the end came for the residents? How does the unfinished...
(The entire section is 337 words.)
1. When and where does Anne live during the time period covered in her diary?
A. Amsterdam, two years before World War II begins
B. Frankfurt, during World War II
C. Vienna, during World War II
D. Amsterdam, during World War II
E. Poland, during World War I
2. Before Anne goes into hiding, her personality could be described as
B. shy and reserved.
E. energetic and very social.
3. Why must Anne and her family go into hiding?...
(The entire section is 1077 words.)
1. How does Anne change over the course of her two years in hiding? Please cite specific examples.
When the reader first meets Anne at the age of thirteen, she is a lively, social, and highly opinionated young girl. Like many girls her age, she is absorbed by her friends, thoughts of boys, school quandaries, and frivolous, happy things like birthday presents. Although the war has come to Holland, she thinks of it as little more than an inconvenience.
When she moves into the Annex, she has a suitably childlike response to it. She is intrigued by the adventure of it. After describing the physical space, she ends cheerfully with “Now I’ve introduced you to the whole of our lovely Annex!” She is caught up in the...
(The entire section is 2756 words.)