I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933-1941

by Victor Klemperer

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• Suppose you were to leave behind a diary that would preserve an important chapter in your life. What part of your life would it be? Consider the events of your life, both personal and historical, and choose the time you feel is most important. Write between seven and ten diary entries in which you relate these events for posterity. Include a short introduction explaining why you have selected this particular time in your life and what you hope readers will learn from reading it.

• Research the Jim Crow laws, which sustained racial segregation in the American South during the first part of the twentieth century. Compare these laws to the Nazis’ increasingly restrictive measures inflicted on Jews in Germany. Draw conclusions about the similarities and differences that you identify. Do you think such situations could happen in today’s world? Why or why not? How do you think Klemperer would answer this question?

• Choose an event from Klemperer’s diary that you found especially intriguing. Find three pieces of music that capture the feeling and atmosphere of that episode. Try to find three pieces that are as different from one another as possible.

• You are a substitute teacher for a high school English class that is finishing a study of Holocaust literature. Prepare for a class discussion. Create a graphic organizer that compares and contrasts Klemperer’s diary with Anne Frank’s. You will want to generate thought-provoking discussion during your class, so come up with at least three questions that will prompt your students.

• Research a personality test, such as the Myers Briggs test, which is based on the psychological theories of Carl Jung. See if you can determine Klemperer’s personality type, paying close attention to such qualities as his academic nature, his competitive streak, his patriotism, his devotion to his wife, and his relationships with his friends. Once you have determined his personality type, read more about that specific profile. What new insights do you gain from this exercise? Explain how it casts one or more of the events of the diary in a new light.

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