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Anne Frank, the Holocaust Victim:
The Controversy about Her Diary in School Education,
and the Controversy about Her Image.

By Jessica Landfried
UCSB Prof. Marcuse's Proseminar on "Legacies of the Holocaust"
March 2002; revised for web publication June 2002
[footnotes not included in this version; see annotated bibliography]

Close your eyes and imagine being stripped of everything you have ever known. Everything you have worked so hard for vanishes before your eyes. You are made to wear a symbol on your arm that designates you as inferior. Your value as a human is equaled to the value of a sewer rat. People can call you names, inflict punishment on you, or even kill you without a cause. Your friends have been taken from their homes, babies and all, and been exterminated. There are rumors about huge death camps where people are being mass murdered by gassing. You know that it is only a matter of time before you and your family are taken to be killed. How do you save your family from death? Who do you turn to, when everyone is your enemy? This scenario is not fictional; it was a real time and real place that existed. The Jewish people were made to suffer tremendous atrocities by Nazi Germany during WWII. The questions that I posed were many that Otto Frank tried to answer as a father who wanted to protect his family from death. His decision was to go into hiding.

His youngest daughter, Anne, kept a diary while her family was in hiding for 26 months.

First published in America in 1952, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ has been the most widely read book about the Holocaust in America. In a survey conducted in 1996 at the University of Michigan, it was still named as the predominant source of Holocaust education: the text was required reading in high school for over half the students surveyed.

The diary has sparked controversial arguments and debates as to whether it should be used in schools to educate students on the atrocities of the Holocaust. This paper will discuss both advantages and disadvantages for the use of the diary in schools. The paper will provide professional teachers’ experiences with the diary in the classroom setting. I have come to the conclusion that the diary should be the first text a child reads about the holocaust, but definitely not the last. I agree with scholars that Anne’s diary does not represent the majority of the victims However, I believe the diary sparks an interest in children so that they will want to continue being educated in the Holocaust.

In short, Anne’s diary is about the struggles of Anne in hiding. Otto Frank decided to take his family, his wife, and his daughters, Anne and Margot along with the Van Daans and their son Peter, and Mr. Dussel into hiding. For a little over two years eight people lived in an attic above Otto Frank’s factory. Miep Gies, Mr. Kraler, Mr. Koophuis and Ellie Vossen, former employees of Otto, aided the eight people and helped to protect them. All eight people lived in complete silence every day because the factory workers below might hear them. While Anne was living in the Annex she fell in love with Peter. Many of her diary entries are about her feelings and curiosities towards Peter. Unfortunately, an unknown person exposed the Franks and the others, and the Nazi police arrested and sent them to concentration camps. Every person hiding in the Annex died except for Otto Frank. Anne died with her sister in Bergen-Belsen from typhus. It is amazing that Anne’s diary exists today. The German Police could have easily destroyed it, but Miep Gies was able to rescue it.

It must be understood that the diary students are reading in the schools is not a direct copy of the diary Anne wrote. There are three different versions of the diary. The first was the actual diary itself, version A, the second was a rewrite in which Anne edited and rewrote her first diary, version B, and the third was the edited version Otto Frank allowed to be published, version C. Anne was given a blank diary on her 13th birthday, Friday June 12, 1942. Her very first entry was two days later, June 14. About a month later, on Thursday July 9, 1942, Anne and her family disappeared into hiding. Anne began writing a second version of the diary on Wednesday, March 29, 1944, when she heard a radio announcement asking for diaries that were being written during the war for a writing contest. On that day Anne recorded, "Bokestein, an M.P., was speaking on the Dutch News from London, and he said that they ought to make a collection of diaries and letters after the war." Anne had always wanted to be a famous writer and thought her diary would make a perfect romance novel. She began to rewrite her original diary. Somewhere along the way Anne had used up all the pages in her original diary and her father had given her other notebooks and loose sheets of paper to write on. Some of those sheets were lost; so her father used the written text from Anne’s rewrite to tell the story of the missing loose sheets of paper. The problem with using the rewrite is that Anne had gone through and edited her first diary because, as a 15 year old, she found her writing from two years before immature. The third version is the one that students read today. When Otto Frank went to publish the diary he edited parts of the diary that were personal about the family, and Anne’s curiosity in sexuality. Thus, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is not a complete verbatim version of Anne’s visual or rewritten diaries.

Advantages and Disadvantages for the use of the Diary

Scholars debate about how Anne Frank’s diary is taught in schools. The debate arises over how students are taught to relate to Anne Frank. Anne is a 13-15 year old and is going through many of the same experiences her 8th through 10th grade readers are going through. However, Alvin Rosenfeld, author of the essay The Anne Frank We Remember, explains that students should be made aware of the differences between themselves and Anne Frank. Students should not be made to feel they are close to Anne and can relate with her. Rosenfeld states, "In this instance, a pedagogy that stresses commonalities can only lead to misunderstandings or, at best, superficial understandings." Rosenfeld is clearly not against the use of the diary in education, but he is against how the school system today has interpreted her diary as a way for students to become personal and close with her. He feels that this leads to a superficial understanding of the atrocities of the Holocaust.

However, many scholars refute the claims made by Rosenfeld. It is through this closeness that students can view the holocaust in a more realistic sense, rather then an event that happened half a century ago on a different continent. According to Victoria Barnett,

By getting to know the victims as people with faces, families, histories and personalities, the full scope of the tragedy becomes more vivid. Even today, the Diary of Anne Frank tells an immediate, personal story about what happened to the European Jews that the numbers and statistics cannot convey.

Barnett raises a good point. If students are taught the holocaust through numbers and statistics, the holocaust will seem distant. It is through the personal stories that students will want to learn about the tragedies of the war. The controversy arises over whether the personal connection helps students to relate to Anne or instead leads children to a superficial understanding. Barnett states, "Despite everything, I believe it is still important that this voice be heard when we speak about the Holocaust. Part of it, of course, is because only through individual fates do students begin to understand what happened in the Holocaust." I believe that when stories are made personal people want to understand and learn more. If children aren’t made to relate, they will not be interested in furthering their knowledge of the subject. Michelle Britton, a teacher at Goleta Valley Middle School, feels that her students can relate to Anne and should be made to relate to her to understand what she went through. According to Hazel Rochman, "The point is that once students have been moved by Anne Frank’s story and drawn into history, then they will be open to reading more about the Holocaust." <description of interview>

Another problem that contemporary scholars have with Anne Frank’s Diary is that it shelters its readers from the gruesome horrors of the Holocaust. There is one reference in her diary to the gassings, but nothing that would give students an understanding of life in the concentration camps. Anne however, did become a victim of the camps, but her diary ends with her capture in the Annex, and the more gruesome details of her story are left untold to the reader. Anne wrote in her diary, "If I just think of how we live here, I usually come to the conclusion that it is a paradise compared with how other Jews who are not in hiding must be living." Critics feel that Anne Frank’s diary gives both children and adults a misperception about what happened during the Holocaust. Lawrence Langer, a professor at Simons College in Boston who has written extensively on the Holocaust, is appalled by the way school systems have misused the diary. He writes, "…it shelters both students and teachers from the worst, to say nothing of the unthinkable, making them feel they have encountered the Holocaust without being threatened by intolerable images." Langer brings up an important point: Because Anne was in hiding, she was not able to view or experience the atrocities that other Jews were experiencing. Therefore, the misperception lies in the fact that Anne lived in a so-called "paradise" and children might think that Anne’s life in the annex is a complete picture of the Holocaust.

Advocates in favor of using the diary in the classrooms feel that a harsh reality of the sufferings of the Jews would be too much to handle for young children. Hazel Rochman feels, "The diary may be too vague about the persecution, but we do not want to give young readers accounts that are sensational, with gruesome details of torment." Rochman adds that there are not many Holocaust books that are suitable for young children. That is not to say that Anne Frank’s is used because there are limited books, but the fact is that it is very difficult to teach the Holocaust to younger children without books that reach these students. Anne’s diary seems to get the point across without the gruesome details of torment. Henri Van Praag, author of "Diary as a Challenge to Education," points out that Anne addresses children through her "dear Kitty" diary entries. Praag states, "Through Kitty Anne speaks to millions of young people, as well as to adults." While reading the diary one can relate to Anne because people feel as though Anne is speaking directly to them. Through Kitty people feel they really get to know Anne. Her innocent writing style brings people closer to her and makes them sympathize with her. Praag states,

Identification with Anne becomes possible because the reader of the diary feels a deep psychological kinship with her. It is often the case, too, that Anne arouses self-awareness in the reader, gives him the courage to be himself. Reading the diary often leads to a new discussion with parents and teachers.

Young students do not need the horrific pictures of dead bodies in the concentration camps to learn about the Holocaust. Anne helps children to understand the harsh reality that she endured through her writings. According to Michelle Britton, students have left her class in tears. Michelle didn’t show gruesome pictures, her students discussed the tragic outcome of Anne’s life and the students responded to Anne with an emotional response of understanding.

Critics of the diary not only oppose it because they feel it does not offer a horrific reality, but because it tells an incomplete story. Anne’s words are only about her hiding in the annex. There are no words to read about her untimely fate after she was captured in August 1944. According to Tim Cole, "Moreover, in the text of The Diary of Anne Frank, the implementation of the ‘final solution of the Jewish question’ plays a somewhat peripheral role. The Holocaust is essentially the context within which the diary is written, rather then the central focus." The claim that the diary is an incomplete story of the Holocaust seems to be the main reason people are against the use of the diary in schools. In agreement with Cole are other critics such as Lawrence Langer, Cynthia Ozick, Hazel Rochman and Victoria Barnett. According to Rochman, "There is nothing about how most children died; in the ghettos, massacres, transports, camps. That famous sentence ‘still I believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart" has been wrenched out of context and trumpeted on stage and screens across the world as a sentimental message of healing and hope.’

The claim these critics make is true. The diary ends and there are no words left about what is to come for Anne. However, Anne’s diary offers many messages for kids to take in and to respond to. It is a bad thing that her diary addresses puberty and femininity. Her readers understand her because they are going through the same experiences she was living through. It is within her writing that students are engaged and inspired to be better people. Her famous line "still I believe in spite of everything… people are really good at heart" is a positive message for children. Victoria Barnett does find flaws with how the diary is used, but she would agree that it is still the best text for young children to read about the Holocaust. She writes, " In reading Anne Frank’s diary, we are reminded of our possibility to be good, of our obligation to reawaken a sense of goodness within ourselves." The statement may be taken out of context, but in this situation it is good that children can view Anne positively. If children want their hero to be Anne, because she was an optimistic person, then it is perfectly okay to emphasize certain messages that are within Anne’s diary. I am not saying that it is okay to turn Anne’s diary into a universal message to fight racism and sexism, as critics have claimed, however, as long as teachers emphasize how Anne had a positive attitude in her particular situation, the diary is an excellent classroom choice.

The 1950s and the Universal Anne

Another complaint that critics have is the way Anne has been introduced to the public. In America Anne’s Jewishness has been downplayed, and if possible completely done away with. There a this tendency to universalize Anne into a person everyone can relate to, regardless of skin color, religion or gender. This is the only complaint that I too have of the way Anne was viewed in the past. It is wrong to ignore Anne’s Jewishness to make her story universal. The biggest controversy over the universalization of Anne’s Diary was in the 1955 Broadway play. In 1952, after the diary was published in the U.S., Meyer Levin wanted to adapt Anne’s Diary into a play. Otto Frank allowed Levin to write a script for the play. However, Levin’s script was rejected, because his script was considered to Jewish, and instead, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett produced their less Jewish, more universal stage version of the diary in 1955. Frank Rich, who wrote a review of "An Obsession with Anne Frank," claimed, "In the interest of creating a universal heroine who would speak to all audiences, they (Goodrich and Hackett) had chosen instead to bleach Anne of her Jewishness and, in his (Levin’s) view, had betrayed her and the Jewish people by sanitizing the Holocaust."

In response, Goodrich and Hackett said that the reason they made Anne more universal in the play, was because Anne’s Jewishness

…would set the characters in the play apart from the people watching them…, for the majority of our audience is not Jewish. And the thing that we have striven for, toiled for, fought for throughout the whole play is to make the audience understand and identify themselves… to make them one with them… to make them feel ‘that, but for the grace of God, might have been I’.

In agreement with Goodrich and Hackett, Otto Frank wanted to universalize Anne’s diary, so that her words could touch everyone, all over the world. Frank said, "it was my point of view to bring Anne’s message to as many people as possible even if there are some who think it is a sacrilege and does not bring the greatest part of the public to understand." However, the reason the eight people were in hiding was because they were Jewish. There was no other reason, other than their religion, that they had to go into hiding. It is wrong to take away Anne’s Jewishness, because if she weren’t Jewish, she would still be alive today.

The universalization of Anne Frank in the Broadway play and the 1959 movie of Anne Frank seemed to show how the U.S. viewed the Holocaust. Many children and adults in the 1950s viewed a non-Jewish Anne Frank. Tim Cole has researched the 1950s and feels the way I do. He writes,

I am arguing throughout this book-- a period when the myth of the ‘Holocaust’ had not yet emerged… In this period--prior to the emergence of the myth of the ‘Holocaust’- ‘Anne’ gained a reputation not specifically as a ‘Holocaust victim’, but as a spokesperson of other causes

It seems that the 1950s Anne represented racism in the world, however, why she was a victim disappeared from the picture. This is important to note because many teachers from the 1950s through today have used either the 1955 Broadway play or the 1959 movie to teach their classes. Max Page a historian writes,

The story they told was a radically altered version of Anne Frank’s life as told in the diary, designed to fit the needs of Broadway producers and Americans in the 1950s. It has continued to serve the needs of hundreds of thousands of teachers worldwide, who have found the diary the perfect answer to their search for an accessible, and perhaps not too depressing work on the Holocaust.

Teaching Anne in the 1960s Through the 1980s

It is very hard to find statistics or personal experiences with the diary in the 1960s through the 1980s. Tim Cole suggests, "In the mid 1950s, America had little time for the ‘Holocaust’, being caught up in the early years of the Cold War and McCarthyism, and the beginning of the challenge to segregation in the south." One could make the assumption that in the 1960s the U.S. was concerned with Civil rights, the feminist movement and the Vietnam War, and the Holocaust may have faded from the picture.

In talking to people who were children in those decades I received different experiences from each person. Helene Landfried attended Palm Springs High School in the 1960s and said that she had read the diary. She said that her entire class had to read the diary. Mrs. Landfried said that she felt a close personal connection with Anne, part of the reason was because she herself is Jewish. Unfortunately, her memory has faded and cannot remember the details of her experience. In talking to Michelle Britton who was in High School in the 1970s, she had never heard about Anne Frank or her diary. It wasn’t until she traveled to Europe that she read the diary. In contrast, Melanie Jacobson, a teacher at San Marcos High school, read the diary when she was in high school in the late 1970s. She said that she was moved emotionally and it peaked her curiosity in learning about the Holocaust. It seems as though some teachers exposed their students to Anne Frank and the Holocaust and others didn’t. It is upsetting to hear that Michelle Britton had never heard about the diary or Anne Frank. In the 1980s it appeared that the Holocaust was not a priority in the school curriculums. In a study done by Sidney Bolkosky,

There was no shortage of Holocaust materials in 1985…, But virtually all of those materials were poorly conceived and/or painfully inadequate for teachers- often unhistorical, unsophisticated, and frightening to both teachers and students. Most curricula offered moralistic, sentimental courses of study… American and European history textbooks also provided woefully inadequate, averaging one paragraph (approximately 70 words) on the Holocaust.

The Jewishness of Anne Frank Blooms in the 1990s

When the Diary was published in 1952, there seemed to be a response that universalized Anne into a non-Jewish person that could represent all victims of racism. However, in the 1990s Anne reemerged as a Jewish victim and became the symbol of the Holocaust. On June 12, 1992 the diary celebrated its 50th anniversary. Following was the publication of the Definitive Edition and in 1998, Melissa Muller’s Autobiography of Anne Frank. The two books published in the 1990s uncovered the truth of Anne Frank and her history. The Definitive Edition published missing pages that Otto Frank with held from the 1952 publication. The edition also concluded with Anne’s story after the police captured her. Muller’s biography gives the reader a personal look into Anne’s life. The biography tells Anne’s story from her birth, through her death in Bergen-Belsen.

Not only was there a need to tell Anne’s whole story, but to bring to life her Jewishness. Meyer Levin, who from the beginning wanted Anne’s Jewishness to be in the forefront, but was denied in the 1950s, would finally see her Jewishness become the central focus. Bernstein, a critic of the New York Times writes,

Moreover, we do learn things, if slowly. I would argue that we are becoming at least somewhat more morally lucid about Anne Frank now that, for some reason, more then half a century after her luminous flame was snuffed out by the Nazi malevolence, she is receiving more attention than she has since her diary was first made into a play in the 1950s.

A new production on Broadway partly restores to Anne what the earlier production took away- her Jewish identity and specifically the Jewish character of her persecution. The reason that Bernstein gives for this emergence of Jewishness is that the survivors now are prepared to deal with the situation and their own Jewishness. "The plain fact is, however, that the Jewish insistence on the Jews’ uniqueness as a victimized people is recent. It is something that many Jews, perhaps even most of them, were unprepared for decades ago". Bernstein attributes this factor to the reason that Otto Frank and the Hackett’s wanted Anne to be universalized in the 1950s and implied that Otto and the Hackett’s’ did not want to bring attention to Anne’s Jewishness.

In the 1990s Anne had become a familiar face to school students. Anne had been introduced in many forms, through her diary, movies, documentaries, museums and exhibitions. Miep Gies is an important person, because she saved Anne’s diary and because of her, Anne lives on through her words. Her documentary Anne Frank Remembered won an academy award. Her appearances are rare, but she makes an effort, every time she is in the United States to visit a classroom of thirteen year olds. Connie Schultz a writer for a San Diego newspaper wrote about Miep’s visit to a Cleveland-area junior high school. Schultz quoted Miep, "Otto Frank asked of me like I ask of you: stop saying ‘the Jews,’ ‘the blacks,’ ‘the Asians,’ ‘the Arabs,’ lumping people together is racism." Schultz described the intensity of the students, "The group of students… was still and quiet as she continued in careful English punctuated by a Dutch accent." It is the personal stories that students relate to. It is wonderful that a courageous woman will speak to students about Anne and the message that she represents.

In 1997, "Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945" exhibit came to Santa Barbara, in which many young students and others visited. "Since June of 1985 the exhibit has reached more than 3 million Americans in 120 communities." "It chronicles the dramatic story of a young Jewish girl during the Holocaust and the impact of racism and intolerance today- (it) will reach more than 20,000 local children and their families during the next month." Santa Barbara had encountered several incidences of hatred and racism inflicted by people in the community. One incident, someone had written ‘Go home, Jew’ on the window of Mrs. Weinstein’s toffee place. Judith Stotland, executive director of the Santa Barbara Jewish Federation said "A lot of Anne’s experiences will strike a chord with young people in the community. The important lesson we all can learn from the exhibit is tolerance and an understanding of who Anne Frank was and the horrible conditions she was forced to endure." As Judith implied, the exhibit is inspirational and motivating for young children as well as adults. The exhibit brings a visual reality of Anne to many people. The 1990s offered the United States a new look into who Anne was and her message to fight racism, but more importantly that she was a victim because she was Jewish, and no other reason but that!

Personal Experiences with Reading and Teaching the Diary:

I will start with my personal experience with Anne’s diary. I have always been fascinated with Anne and her story for many reasons. One is that I too am Jewish and have always felt that I had a special relationship with Anne because we shared the same faith. I thought that if I lived during Anne’s time we would have been friends. I read the play in my eighth grade literature class and was deeply moved. I had heard about Anne Frank through my family, so her story was not a shock. However, no matter how many times I read the diary I will always think of the tragic outcome of her life and the many others that perished. In my eighth grade class we not only read the play but also had to act out a scene. I chose to be Anne Frank, and I had the opportunity to put myself in her shoes. I read the words she wrote, and tried to imagine what life was like for her in hiding. Being able to become Anne was very powerful for me; it moved me to study the Holocaust and why such atrocities occurred to innocent people. I feel that I am an example of a student who was inspired by Anne’s Diary.

Sharon Whitley, a former teacher wrote about her teaching experience in The San Diego Union Tribune. "I especially recall the powerful impact that Anne’s diary had on my fifth grade class in a small desert town 16 years ago." Whitley remembered that it was a hot September day. The students loudly rustled in after lunch. She made a remark that her students could never keep as quite as Anne Frank did for more then two years. The children began asking who is Anne Frank; does she go to school here? As the students settled down, Whitley told the story of how Anne Frank and her family were forced to hide from the Nazi’s. She told her students how Anne perished in a concentration camp at the age of 15. "The children were wide-eyed and quite as I told them the tale of Anne. But that was not enough." "’Read the story to us!’ they excitedly demanded." So from that day on, Whitley would read several pages a day. "The diary opened a whole knew world for these kids. They understood prejudice; now they knew there were many different kinds. They identified with Anne and her plight." Through Whitley’s experience in the classroom we can see how important the diary is for children. They are moved and compelled to feel sympathy and understanding for Anne’s life and what we can learn from her story.

Whitely was not the only teacher that had an emotional experience with students. When I talked to Michelle Britton, some of her students responded in tears. She said that the diary plants the seed that it could be them that endured what Anne did. They are no different than Anne. Melanie Jacobson, in remembering her experience was asked to paint a portrait of Anne. She said that she was moved and it peeked her curiosity in the Holocaust. Painting the portrait allowed her to become personal with Anne and imagine living in Anne’s shoes. Joyce Hazelkorn a retired teacher in Chicago, who taught the diary in the 1970s, said that it woke the children up. She said that most of the students had no background information on WWII. She even had parents asking to read the diary.

In talking with Michelle Britton, Melanie Jacobson, Joyce Hazelkorn and reading Whitely’s article, none of them felt that the diary was a negative influence for students. They all felt the children were interested and became very emotionally involved in Anne’s story. Michelle Britton said the only negativity that she experienced from some students was that the diary was too long and boring. Some students questioned why they had to study Anne Frank. Michelle explained how Anne’s story is important today in understanding tolerance for all groups of people and what we can learn specifically about Jewish people from Anne’s diary. The teachers said that they would pick Anne’s diary over any other Holocaust book. This is important in showing that teachers who interact with students’ everyday feel that Anne’s diary is their number one choice to teach students about the Holocaust.

How the Diary is Taught in Schools

Obviously there is not one way to teach the diary to students. However, there are similar messages that teachers feel Anne’s diary addresses. Michelle Britton taught an elective class called "Facing History and Ourselves." She used the resource book Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior. In the class she also had the students read Anne’s Diary. The class was about tolerance and racism. While the students read the diary she had them keep an interactive notebook (Unfortunately, she had none to show me). In the notebooks the students could write questions, and express their feelings. Michelle said that she would address the concerns of the children and would have discussions in class. She also showed one of the movies made on the Diary. Within the Santa Barbara school district the seventh grade students take a trip to the Museum of Tolerance. With reading the diary, writing thoughts in notebooks and visiting the Museum, the student’s interests were sparked and they yearned for more education.

Melanie Jacobson used several teaching books. She used, "Teaching the Diary of Anne Frank: An In-depth Resource for Learning About the Holocaust Through the Writings of Anne Frank", Latitudes: Resources to Integrate Language Arts and Social Studies, Anne Frank the Diary of a Young Girl" and "Anne Frank in Historical Perspective: A Teaching Guide for Secondary Schools". Melanie would begin the class by asking the students what words came to their mind when she mentioned the word Holocaust. She then asked the students to reflect words and images about racism. She handed out important passages from the diary. The diary entries she emphasized were Thursday, July 9, 1942 and Wednesday, May 3, 1944. After reading the entries the students discussed the importance of the passages and how they could relate Anne’s message to today.

Both teachers taught similarly to each other. Each held interactive discussions with the students, allowing them to speak their opinions. They both incorporated the theme of racism and why Anne was a victim of racism. The books that they used offered a broad history of WWII and important events or ideas. The books posed questions for teachers to use to spark discussion in students, such as "As students read the book, note if Anne or other characters are aware of why they are objects of discrimination. Watch for any clues that show characters in the Secret Annexe stereotype non-Jews." The strongest commonalty in their teachings was that they stressed oral discussion. They talked with the students about how it could be them, why Anne was hated, and what can people do to stop racism and genocide.


The final factor in deciding my thesis was interviewing the teachers. In looking at the advantages and disadvantages of teaching the diary I found that the people opposed tended to be historians, Holocaust writers and College Professors. The people in favor were also scholars but many were secondary school teachers. Historians and writers are not the ones that interact with students on an individual every day basis. Their main argument against the diary is that it is irrelevant to the Holocaust and is an incomplete story. The fact that it is irrelevant is arguable. Anne represents the untold and unknown stories that are just as important as the ghetto and concentration camp stories. Anne’s story is not as vivid and telling as others, but it is personable and relatable. Teachers are there to explain what is left untold in the diary. It is not necessary to overwhelm students with graphic pictures of death. Anne’s untold story leaves an impression that cannot be mirrored by pictures. She leaves the readers with the curiosity and interest to discover the other stories of the Holocaust. She sparks an interest in students to further their education.

The diary should be the first text a child reads about the Holocaust but definitely not the last. It is a stepping-stone for young students to learn of the many unimaginable stories of the Holocaust. Not one book can give the whole picture of the genocide that occurred. Anne’s diary opens the door to students that want to continue their knowledge on WWII.

Link to: top of this page; Anne Frank annotated bibliography

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