The Ignored Lessons of Anne Frank
Length: 592 words (1.7 double-spaced pages)
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In Bettelheim's essay, The Ignored Lessons of Anne Frank, he criticizes Anne Frank's father because of the way he had his whole family hiding out in the attic of one family. Bettelheim claims he is not criticizing Mr. Frank, he just wants his readers to reexamine the way we read history. In his essay, Bettelheim concinced me that we, as readers should look again at the text and realize all the possibilities that the Franks had.
In the essay, the author points out that most of the other Jewish families who did decide to go into hiding did so separately, so if one family member were to get caught, the others still might have a chance. As Bettelheim points out that the chief desire of the Franks was to continue to live together as if they were free, in the same manner that they had been living in. At the time when I was reading The Diary of Anne Frank, I had never thought that there was any other way that they could have lived. I never once considered that they should split up.
Another important issue that the author brings up is the fact that the Franks were better informed than other Jews about the extirmination camps. The other Jews had no knowledge about these camps, making it a little bit more reasonable for the others to want to stick together as a family. The Franks, however, knew this and they still did nothing to prepare for the Nazis. The author also had some ideas for the Franks to prepare for the invasion when the Nazis came, even though they stayed together. He suggested that Mr. Frank could have had some form of protection, such as a gun; Mr. Frank could have tried to detain the police when they came, while his family could try to run to safety. Sure, Mr. Frank would have been killed of beaten, but he could have done a better job of protecting his family.
The most important point that Bettelheim makes is why he thinks that the movie and play are such enormous successes. He declares that the ending in which Anne says, "In spite of everything, I still believe that the people are really good at heart," is ficticious. He says that this sentence is improbable when one considers that she was starved to death, had watched her sister meet the same fate before she did, knew that her mother had been murdered, and had watched untold thousands of adults and children being killed.
Bettelheim states that as readers like the play and movie because with this ending, we can adhere to a false sense that all men are really good at heart and we are encouraged to believe that there never really was an Auschwitz.
In conclusion, after reading everything that Bettelheim stated, he changed my perspective on the book, as well as the play and movie. I still think that Anne Frank is a courageous and admirable person, and I feel the same about her father, although I would hope that given the same circumstances he would reconsider his choice to have his family split up, instead of having them stay together. Even though it seemed nice to stay together and be a family, it would have been much more practical to split up. If Mr. Frank would have chosen to do this, there is no telling what might have happened to the family. Anne Frank, her mother, or sister might have lived.