Teaching Students About Otto Frank: A Guide for Educators

Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank and a prominent figure in Holocaust history, deserves recognition and exploration in classrooms around the world. This article aims to provide educators with the necessary information and resources to effectively teach students about Otto Frank and his contributions.

I. Introduction to Otto Frank

Otto Heinrich Frank was born on May 12, 1889, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He served in the German army during World War I and later married Edith Holländer in 1925. They had two daughters: Margot and Anne.

Due to the rise of the Nazi Party and anti-Semitic laws, the family was forced to flee from their home country and sought refuge in Amsterdam. Otto started a small business there, which ultimately became their hidden sanctuary, famously known as the Secret Annex.

 II. Life in Hiding

After receiving a notice for Margot’s deportation, the family went into hiding on July 6, 1942. Along with four other Jewish individuals, they hid for two years at Otto’s business address, Prinsengracht 263. During this time, Anne documented her experiences through her diary entries.

It is crucial to highlight Otto’s resilience during this period. He devised a strict daily schedule for everyone in hiding, emphasizing education for the children. He encouraged Anne’s writing talent and provided her with a safe space to express herself.

III. Liberation and Legacy

On August 4, 1944, after an anonymous tip-off, their hiding place was discovered by Nazi officers. The residents of the Secret Annex were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Tragically, only Otto survived.

At Auschwitz-Birkenau, he was separated from his family but managed to survive until its liberation by Soviet forces on January 27, 1945. Upon returning to Amsterdam, he discovered that his wife and daughters had perished.

Miep Gies, a former employee of Otto and one of their protectors during hiding, managed to safely preserve Anne’s diary. Otto was moved by her writings and decided to publish them in 1947 as “The Diary of a Young Girl.” The book became a symbol of the Holocaust’s impact and Anne’s legacy.

 IV. Teaching Strategies

 1. Introduce Otto Frank as a key figure in Holocaust history by emphasizing his courage and perseverance in providing shelter for his family and others.

2. Use primary sources such as Anne Frank’s diary, letters, and photos to offer students an insight into the life in hiding.

3. Discuss the challenges faced by Otto, including his decision to go into hiding, daily struggles, the loss of his family, and coping with grief.

4. Encourage students to reflect on how Otto preserved Anne’s legacy through publishing her diary.

5. Focus on the significance of honoring Holocaust survivors like Otto Frank by visiting museums, watching documentaries, or sharing their stories with others.

V. Conclusion

Teaching students about Otto Frank’s life grants them an opportunity to understand his bravery and dedication. By sharing both his and Anne’s story, educators ensure that their memory lives on, giving students a unique perspective on the horrors of the Holocaust and the resilience of human spirit even amidst adversity.

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