Study Guide

The Diary of Anne Frank Identity

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Anne Frank

Our freedom was severely restricted by a series of anti-Jewish decrees: Jews were required to wear a yellow star; Jews were required to turn in their bicycles; Jews were forbidden to use streetcars; Jews were forbidden to ride in cars, even their own; Jews were required to do their shopping between 3 and 5 P.M.; Jews were required to frequent only Jewish-owned barbershops and beauty parlors; Jews were forbidden to be out on the streets between 8 P.M. and 6 A.M.; Jews were forbidden to go to theaters, movies or any other forms of entertainment; Jews were forbidden to use swimming pools [. . .] (6/20/1942.9)

These are just a few examples of how Nazi policies imposed an identity on Jewish people. They were identified as separate, different, and less than human. Anne doesn’t seem to believe any of this about herself or other Jewish people, but she is forced to live it. This imposed identity contributes to Anne’s later identity as a fearful person, living on the brink of disaster.

It’s sweltering. Everyone is huffing and puffing, and in this heat I have to walk everywhere. Only now do I realize how pleasant a streetcar is, but we Jews are no longer allowed to make use of this luxury; our own two feet are good enough for us [. . .] The only mode of transportation left to us is the ferry. The ferryman at Josef Israëlkade took us across when we asked him to. It’s not the fault of the Dutch that we Jews are having such a bad time. (6/24/1942.1-2)

In this passage, we see that the identity being imposed upon Anne by the Nazis is not, in Anne's view, reinforced by the Dutch people. She understands that Holland is being occupied by Nazi forces and under Nazi control, but that the Dutch as a people don’t seem to buy in to Nazi propaganda, and are not to blame.

Fine specimens of humanity, those Germans, and to think I’m actually one of them! No, that’s not true, Hitler took away our nationality long ago. (10/9/1942.6)

National identity is confusing. How much our identities are influenced by the nation we live in or are born in is different for each person. While the Nazi party was in power, proper German identity meant hating Jewish people. Most people don’t want to hate other people. Identity crises were rampant among “Germans” and “Jews.”

Rauter, some German bigwig, recently gave a speech. "All Jews must be out of the German-occupied territories before July 1. The province of Utrecht will be cleansed of Jew [as if they were cockroaches] between April 1 and May 1, and the provinces of North and South Holland between May 1 and June 1." These poor people are being shipped off to filthy slaughterhouses like a herd of sick and neglected cattle. (3/27/1943.3)

Anne understands that many Jewish people were being forced to experience the identity the Nazis so brutally carved out for them. The final sentence of the quote is interesting because it shows that Anne believes such treatment unjust for both people and animals.

I’m "on top of the world" when I think of how fortunate we are and compare myself to other Jewish children, and "in the depths of despair" when, for example, Mrs. Kleiman comes by an talks about Jopie’s hockey club, canoe trips, school plays and afternoon teas with friends. (12/24/1943.1)

Anne yearns for her old identity, the identity of a girl fully immersed in life. This passage shows that she feels guilt for her yearning, when others are suffering worse than she. She uses this guilt to try to blunt her longing.

I sometimes wonder if anyone will ever understand what I mean, if anyone will ever overlook by ingratitude and not worry about whether or not I’m Jewish and merely see me as a teenager badly in need of some good plain fun. (12/24/1943.4)

Longing for fresh air and freedom, Anne’s youth becomes, for a moment at least, a her most important identity marker.

We can never be just Dutch, or just English, or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. (4/11/1944.48)

This passage shows that Anne’s identity as a Jewish girl is now reduced to feelings of isolation and discrimination.

The war isn’t even over, and already there’s dissention and Jews are regarded as lesser beings. Oh, it’s sad, very sad that the old adage has been confirmed for the umpteenth time: "What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does reflects on all Jews." (5/22/1944.7)

This is isn’t the first time Anne talks about this, about how Jewish people were dehumanized not only by being identified as “lesser beings,” but also by being held to higher standards of conduct than other people. What for a non-Jewish person would be considered a mistake, for a Jewish person could be considered proof of a collective inferiority.

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