Before assigning any of these, teach this mini-lesson:

Jews were persecuted in Nazi-controlled Europe simply because they were Jews. Hitler convinced the German people that Jews were responsible for much of the economic trouble faced by Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Thus, many Germans went along with Hitler's ideas because they believed Hitler's lies about the Jews.

What groups of people have been persecuted in other places and times? There are many answers, of course, but these are some likely responses:

  • Slavery/segregation of African-Americans in the United States
  • Restriction of Chinese immigration and persecution of Chinese immigrants in the United States
  • Employment and housing discrimination against Irish immigrants in the United States
  • General anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States and Europe today
  • Genocide against the Tutsi tribe in Rwanda
  • Genocide in Darfur in Sudan today
You may wish to add other examples if your students are likely to have familiarity with them due to their history education or personal background.

Now, invite your students to imagine themselves as a member of such a persecuted group. They could go with a historical example or make up a contemporary circumstance. (I have allowed students to be a little "silly" with these as long as they take the assignments seriously; students have imagined themselves as being persecuted by intelligent robots, space aliens, etc.)

Invite discussion on how they would feel and react.

Once they have this idea firmly in mind, you can assign any or all of the following tasks over the course of a week, two weeks, or the entire unit:

  • Your Secret Annexe: Students should describe or draw where they would hide if they had to. They should also consider how they would get to this place if they were living under the transportation restrictions Anne and her family had. Many students opt for relatives' and friends' homes, workplaces, schools, churches, etc. Make them consider the advantages and disadvantage of each place.
  • Your Secret Annexe Suitcase: Students should draw or list items they would wish to take with them into a hiding place. They can only take one bag. Remind them of trade-offs; for example, they may not want to take a cell phone because cell phones can give away their location; they may not want to take an iPod because they may not have a way to charge it, etc.
  • Who's in Your Secret Annexe?: Students should list who their companions in hiding would be. How many people can they realistically fit in the hiding place they chose? Can the hiding place accommodate babies, small children, pets, elderly people, disabled people? This gives students a sense of the heartbreaking decisions many Jewish families had to make if they chose to escape or hide during this time period--even if they were able to keep a nuclear family intact, Jewish people necessarily bid farewell to extended family members, friends, neighbors.
  • Prospectus and Guide to Your Secret Annexe: Students should make up a list of rules and procedures by which their hiding places would operate. They can use Anne's "Prospectus and Guide to the Secret Annexe" from the entry of 17 November 1942 as an example.
  • Say Goodbye...You're Off to the Secret Annexe: Anne and her family told few people they were leaving and deliberately misled friends and neighbors about their destination. Ask students if they felt they could trust anyone with the truth of their going into hiding. If so, what would you tell them? If not, how would you conceal your going into hiding?
  • First Dispatch from Your Secret Annexe: Students should write a diary entry in which they reflect on how successful their escape has been so far. They may also wish to imagine some of the challenges they may face being in hiding--not having certain things, having to get along with companions, etc. This assignment could also be easily repeated many times as students imagine how their feelings and experiences might change as they prolong their time in hiding, or you could simply follow it up with...
  • Dreaming of Freedom in the Secret Annexe: Students should write another diary entry that takes place approximately six months from the time in which they first went into hiding. What would you miss if you were in hiding for that long? Why? Imagine what people, places, foods, experiences, etc. you would miss most.
Students in my classes have combined these small assignments into projects, such as posters or storybooks, that serve as their imaginings of a world like Anne Frank's in which they themselves are forced to live.
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