Lesson Plans: Grades 6-8

Anne Frank: One of Hundreds of Thousands

Created September 23, 2010


The Lesson


Anne Frank

Portrait of Anne Frank, age 13

Credit: Courtesy of the Anne Frank Stichting in Amsterdam,the Netherlands.

One of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war and its impact on human beings that I have ever read."
—Eleanor Roosevelt in her introduction to The Diary of a Young Girl

"So much has happened it's as if the whole world had suddenly turned upside down."
—Anne Frank, June 8, 1942

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's online introduction to Anne Frank states, "Anne Frank was one of the hundreds of thousands of Jewish children who died in the Holocaust." In that sense, she is not unique; however, through the very ordinary act of writing a diary, through her youthful wisdom and budding literary talent, Anne remains today an extraordinary "symbol for the lost promise of the children who died in the Holocaust."

This lesson invites you to supplement your students' reading of The Diary of a Young Girl by connecting the diary to the study of history and to honor the legacy of Anne Frank, the writer, as she inspires your students to use writing to deepen their insights into their own experiences and the experiences of others.

Guiding Questions

  • What were the historical circumstances that led the Frank family to go into hiding?

Learning Objectives

After completing the lessons in this unit, students will be able to

  • Show on a map territorial changes to Germany as a result of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Identify European countries that came under German control before and during World War II.
  • Discuss the various policies Germany implemented in occupied countries in Europe and particularly in the Netherlands.

Preparation Instructions

  • This lesson, helps students put Anne Frank in a historical context. It begins with a broad overview of the map of World War II in Europe, continues with a look at what happened to a selection of countries, and ends with a lens on the Netherlands and Anne Frank.
  • Lesson 2 concentrates on the diary with a look at Anne Frank the adolescent and Anne Frank the writer. Students then practice one of Anne's writing strategies—self-imposed rules about how she would compose a particular entry--with material from their own lives.
  • A free online resource is available from the EDSITEment-reviewed United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, Teaching about the Holocaust: A Resource Book for Educators; this online resource provides guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust, an historical summary and chronology, and an annotated bibliography and videography on Holocaust-related topics. It also describes information about programs offered by Museum educators and additional resources for teachers. To view or print the entire resource book go to the page "For Teachers." Part III lets teachers receive, at no charge, an introductory packet of resources from the Education Resource Center; it also contains an extensive, annotated bibliography with sections for middle school students, high school students, and adults.
  • Material about the Holocaust must be presented to young people with great sensitivity. An excellent list of methodological considerations is available on page 13 of Teaching about the Holocaust: A Resource Book for Educators; guidelines may also be found in the online workshop Teaching about the Holocaust.
  • Though the web pages and other items specifically featured in this lesson plan have been selected with care, they inevitably contain—as they relate to the Holocaust—potentially disturbing material. Should students explore the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website on their own, they may come across material of a graphic nature. The teacher should set guidelines for the class and be prepared to help students.
  • Background on World War II in Europe:

    German pride had been wounded by its defeat in World War I; moreover, Germans resented the forced changes to their country's pre-World War I borders. According to the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum website, as a result of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, Germany had lost "13 percent of its European territory (more than 27,000 square miles) and one-tenth of its population (between 6.5 and 7 million people)."

    "At the Lausanne Conference of 1932, Germany, Britain, and France agreed to the formal suspension of reparations payments imposed on the defeated countries after World War I. Thus, when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January 1933, the financial provisions of the Treaty of Versailles (the post-World War I peace agreement) had already been revised. Hitler was determined to overturn the remaining military and territorial provisions of the treaty and include ethnic Germans in the Reich as a step toward the creation of a German empire in Europe." (From the EDSITEment-reviewed U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum website.)

    In a series of diplomatic maneuvers, propaganda campaigns, and, finally, devastating attacks using the blitzkrieg tactic, Germany rapidly took control of a series of European countries. In each, Germany implemented a particular set of governing policies. To each country, Germany attempted to export its racial ideology.

  • Review the lesson plan. Download the chart, World War II in Europe (available as a PDF), that will be used in this lesson. Prepare copies of the maps, articles, and chart, as necessary.
  • In the class activity, students look at a series of maps to gain an idea of the territorial changes in Europe after World War I up to the beginning of the defeat of Germany. They complete a map intended to show the speed and reach of Germany's wartime expansion. Then students share information about the German occupation in some European countries, which they then compare to the situation in the Netherlands. Lastly, students analyze a map.

Lesson Activities

Activity 1. Anne Frank: One of Hundreds of Thousands
  • As Germany took control of any particular country, it implemented policies relating to governance and racial ideology. Those policies differed somewhat from country to country. Divide students into groups and assign each an article about one country; from the information in the article (and any other appropriate sources chosen), students should compose a news article that adheres to the facts about the events that transpired. Students may elaborate as desired as long as they do not stray from what is truly possible. Remind the class about the Reporter's Formula (Who? What? When? Where? and Why?); they should address these questions early in the article, as well as provide a headline and byline. Put the articles together to create a news account of German wartime expansion.

Extending The Lesson

Students interested in learning more about The Holocaust can explore The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's The Holocaust: A Learning Site for Students: "Organized by theme, this site uses text, historical photographs, maps, images of artifacts, and audio clips to provide an overview of the Holocaust. It is the first step in a growing resource for middle and secondary level students and teachers, with content that reflects the history as it is presented in the Museum's Permanent Exhibition, The Holocaust."

Students can read authentic stories of some Dutch citizens in Netherlands Stories, from U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Included are four brief videotaped accounts of eyewitnesses.

Students can read and react to a contemporary diary written by a young woman in a war torn part of the world through Zlata's Diary, by Zlata Filipovic. (Viking Press, 1997. Grade levels: 6-12.)

Students can use the resources of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to research "Blacks During the Holocaust," including learning about Joseph Nassy: "... a black expatriate artist of Jewish descent. Nassy was living in Belgium when World War II began, and was one of about 2,000 civilians holding American passports who were confined in German internment camps during the war." The site also includes examples of works by Nassy.

Students can use the resources of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to research the 1936 Olympics and read Witness to History: John Woodruff, African-American Gold Medal Winner, 1936.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also provides information about contemporary incidents of potential genocide through Alerting the National Conscience to Threats of Genocide Today.

Have students read (or read to them from) Tales from the Secret Annex by Anne Frank (Doubleday Books: 1983. Grade levels 9-12.).

Students who want to learn more about Anne Frank can view some photos of the rowhouse and the attic in which Anne spent two years confined with her family and four other people, available from the website Anne Frank House, a link from the EDSITEment-reviewed United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. As one recent visitor to the house described it: "Amsterdam rowhouses are very tall, very narrow, with incredibly steep staircases. You walk up the steep narrow stairs, go through the secret doorway behind the bookcase, then all of a sudden there's this surprisingly large space. … From the windows of the Anne Frank House … you can look out and see the windows of other houses and of the street and canal below; for us this was a picaresque detail, but for Anne and her family it presented an incredible danger, as their eventual betrayal by a Dutch neighbor attests." Some editions of the diary include a sketch that Anne herself made of the rooms in the house.

Teaching about the Holocaust: A Resource Book for Educators (available for free download at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Outreach Page for Teachers) contains an extensive, annotated bibliography of readings for middle school students wanting to know more about World War II in Europe and/or the Holocaust.

Selected EDSITEment Websites

The Basics

Time Required

3 class periods

Subject Areas
  • History and Social Studies > Themes > Common Core
  • History and Social Studies > Place > Europe
  • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Biography
  • History and Social Studies > World > The Modern World (1500 CE-Present)
  • History and Social Studies > People > Women
  • Critical thinking
  • Historical analysis
  • Textual analysis
  • Using primary sources
  • MMS (AL)


Activity Worksheets
Student Resources

Related Lessons

  • Anne Frank: Writer

    Created September 23, 2010
    Anne Frank

    This lesson concentrates on Anne Frank as a writer. After a look at Anne Frank the adolescent, and a consideration of how the experiences of growing up shaped her composition of the Diary, students explore some of the writing techniques Anne invented for herself and practice those techniques with material drawn from their own lives.