Rebuttal Essay – Sammy Kovnat

Teaching the Holocaust; Things Left Unsaid

Anne Frank was an artist and a gifted writer who because of environmental factors grew into her talent at a very young age. When Anne Frank’s story is taught in schools however, she is only ever acknowledged as a victim: A young girl who just so happened to be writing a diary about her daily struggles in hiding during the Holocaust, and after being murdered behind the concentration camp walls, had her novel/diary/best-friend published for all the world to see. Except for the entries Otto is acknowledged to have cut, students believe that what they are reading and discussing is completely innocent, unaltered, and unedited material.

Teachers and administrators choose to focus on how Anne’s story can educate students, and expose them to things they may know little to nothing about. They feel that by denying Anne the credit she deserves as a writer, they are giving students a more well rounded education, hitting all of the objectives those above them require.

“Teachers will find these books helpful in achieving the following objectives:

  • Students will be able to place the Holocaust in its historical context.
  • Students will gain an understanding of how it felt to live during that period.
  • Students will gain an appreciation of and a sense of responsibility for living in a democratic society.
  • Students will be able to articulate an explanation for the act of genocide, i.e., it occurred because individuals, organizations, and governments made choices that not only legalized discrimination but also allowed prejudice, hatred, and, ultimately, mass murder to occur.
  • Students will be inspired to think critically and to grow emotionally and intellectually.
  • Students will learn that people had different roles during the war: victims, helpers, bystanders, and perpetrators.
  • Students will understand some of the dilemmas of the victims, helpers, bystanders, and perpetrators. “

All of the above mentioned objectives are important for children to learn and understand when being educated about the Holocaust. The problem with this, for anyone who knows, and is passionate about Anne Frank as an individual, is that Anne is being used to express the inner voice of all of the Holocaust victims, her own is being read, but not truly analyzed, appreciated, and understood.  

The educational system only has time to educate students on so much, the fact that they even include Anne’s story within their short time-frame for the Holocaust is fantastic. Although fantastic, it seems that students are leaving without a full understanding of how remarkable Anne Frank truly was. She had writer in her blood. She was an artist. Anne was passionate; she had fierce determination to complete what she had started. She was a writer working through an “unforeseeable” deadline. Anne went back and edited her entries so as to make her Diary all that it could be for future generations. She made it flow seamlessly, made any reader instantly feel connected to her, and shared with us her soul. What she made was a gift for the world.

Anne Frank sewed her heart within every page of her diary, she made sure everything fit right, sounded right, flowed right. Ignoring the hard tireless work she put into the manifestation of her being on paper is a sin. Anne perfected her Diary for us, the least we can do is acknowledge her hard work and life accomplishment.

Works Cited

The Anne Frank House. “About Anne Frank.” Teaching the Holocaust: A Guide to Anne Frank. The Anne Frank Center USA, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.
<http://annefrank.com/about-anne-frank/&gt;. The Anne Frank center USA has a small biography on Anne Frank that states the common knowledge one should know on the subject, but they also have PDF files of material for
teachers to use when teaching about the Holocaust and Anne Frank. This material shows their neglect to acknowledge Anne as an artist, but only as a victim.

Basu, Moni. “Swiss man reintroduces his cousin: Anne Frank.” CNN U.S. Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc, 27 May 2012. Web. 16 Apr. 2013.
<http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/27/us/anne-frank-letters/index.html&gt;.
This is an article discussing a cousin of Anne Frank’s who came across over 6,000 letters and documents about the Frank family in their attic. The article gives you a bit of a broader view of the Franks, and their family as a whole. It also expresses how the extended Frank family (Buddy Elias is Anne’s cousin), were gifted  writers, and all loved to keep letters and things from each other.

Frank, Anne. The Definitive Edition: The Diary of a Young Girl. Ed. Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler. Trans. Susan Massotty. Definitive ed. New York, New York: Bantam Books, 1997. Print.

The Anne Frank House. “About Anne Frank.” Teaching the Holocaust: A Guide to Anne Frank. The Anne Frank Center USA, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <http://annefrank.com/about-anne-frank/&gt;.

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2 Responses to Rebuttal Essay – Sammy Kovnat

  1. kovnat77 says:

    I would appreciate feedback on this one first I believe!

  2. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Sammy!
    P1. I love the directness of your confident, straightforward first sentence. Do always refer to people, though, as “who,” not as “that.” (I don’t think I have ever heard confinement to the attic by fear of Nazis referred to as “environmental factors,” but they certainly are.) Your “however” sentence is perfect. It should be followed by a colon. A victim: a young girl who . . . .
    Get your Otto material out of the way first. (Except for the entries Otto is acknowledged to have cut, students believe they are reading . . . .)

    P2. Instead of “ignoring giving,” could you substitute “denying Anne the credit”? You could describe what they do as teaching the subject matter instead of the art of the book. And I know you can hardly blame them for doing so. The shame is that Frank isn’t taught in literature courses, not that the holocaust is taught as history. Your “those above them” is weirdly mysterious.

    P3 the list. “These books” must be left over from an earlier draft. The list is very nice, but I see it’s contained in quotation marks, without a citation. Identify its source within your text if it’s not yours.

    P4. When you say anyone knows and is passionate about Anne Frank as an individual, it’s hard not to conclude that that anyone has met Anne and loves her as a person. You’re right the approach doesn’t fully take advantage of the material, but it’s more of a shortcoming than a problem, isn’t it? Is harm done by neglecting Anne’s artistry? Or is it more of a missed opportunity?

    P5. Well, there’s my answer, isn’t it? Really, Sammy, you’ve completely anticipated my reservation and addressed it. What I love about leaving notes as I read each paragraph is that you can see how your reader is reacting step by step. (Core Value I: writing is a social process.)

    This reader got goosebumps reading the paragraph from “the writer in her blood” all the way to the end. That’s a lovely rhetorical roll you get on there, Sammy. We can really feel your appreciation.

    P6. AND, you get the better of my quibble about whether there’s a problem here or a mere opportunity lost. You’re right. It’s a problem that the artist doesn’t get her due. You’ve convinced me. We owe her.

    You’ve worked hard to achieve this very fine work, Sammy. It’s been a pleasure to watch it take shape. Thank you.

    Grade recorded.

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