Chapter 13: Change makes moving a challenge


© St. Petersburg Times, published December 6, 1999

The anti-Semitic Nazi party came to power in Germany in 1933. Otto Frank and his family emigrated to Holland to escape persecution and make a better life. Have any of you or your families (current or past generations) come to the United States because you were escaping from political or economic oppression and seeking a better life in the United States?

You could interview family members about their experiences or speak with friends who are immigrants and write about their adjustment to a new country and culture. Anne Frank was only 4 years old when her family moved to Holland and she adapted quickly, learning a new language so well that her diary is written in Dutch.

Are you bilingual (able to speak two languages)? Which language or languages are you using to write in your diary?

Anne wrote that she hoped someday to become a Dutch citizen. In Florida, many people have come from different countries, especially from Spanish-speaking and Asian countries. How do immigrants assimilate into their new communities? How do they become citizens?

Do you think people who have recently immigrated to the United States should have the same rights as those born here? Why or why not?

Look at the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and discuss what the terms "equality" and "liberty" mean.

Does a democracy allow different people to have different rights as citizens? For example, how do you have the right to vote in the United States? What citizens do not have this right? Is there a difference between rights and the ability or access to exercise these rights?

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After Holland was invaded by the German army and the Dutch surrendered in 1940, the occupying Nazis instituted anti-Semitic laws (laws against people who were of Jewish background) just as they had earlier in Germany. Anne Frank and her sister Margot were forbidden to go to private or public schools where there were people of different religions and backgrounds. Anne loved her Montessori school in Amsterdam; she was forced to attend a school for only Jews.

In her diary, she wrote of missing her old school but of adjusting quickly to a new one. Millions of children in this world move from school to school because their families do not have permanent homes, jobs or for other family reasons.

Where you live usually determines what school you attend. Do you think this is fair? List what you think are the pros and cons of going to a school in your neighborhood. Think about whether all neighborhoods are the same and whether all schools have the same resources to provide for students.

How do you treat new people who come to your school? Do you welcome them? Have you ever moved to a new school? How did you feel about it? How were you treated?

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Dr. Joyce Apsel is director of education at the Anne Frank Center USA in New York. Please address questions or comments about this series to: Floridian, Anne Frank and Human Rights, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail

On exhibit

"Anne Frank: A History for Today," an international touring exhibit, opens in January at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, 55 Fifth St. S. The exhibit, which traces Anne Frank's life and times through family photographs and diary passages as well as examines prejudice and violence today, is made available through the Anne Frank Center USA. Exhibit sponsors include the Eckerd Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Paul W. Martin Jr., the Sembler Family and the state of Florida.

Activities to do in class or at home

1. Remember to write in your diary/journal three to four times each week.

2. It is important to understand what citizenship is and to know what a country's laws are on citizenship. Write an essay about citizenship and include the following information in your essay: What is citizenship? What do you have to do to become a citizen of a country? What rights do you receive when you become a citizen? Can a country take away your citizenship? How?

3. Look in today's St. Petersburg Times and see if you can find an example of someone who has had their citizenship taken away from them.

4. (This question from The Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945 teachers guide, developed by the Tennessee Humanities Council for the Tennessee State Museum.):

Define internment. Study the internment of the Japanese-Americans during World War II and compare their treatment with that of the Jews and other groups in Nazi Germany, who were interned and later exterminated. How did the United States justify the Japanese-Americans internment under the Constitution?

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