Anne Frank, Alicia Appleman and Frederick Douglass as Role Models for Today

By Marjorie Montenegro

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Anne Frank, Alicia Appleman and Frederick Douglass
as Role Models for Today
From the bowels of oppression rise three role models from whom our young people may take lessons on life and the indomitable human spirit.  Frederick Douglass, Anne Frank and Alicia Appleman share a common thread; all were heroes whose voices could not be stilled by either the enemy or time.  Douglass created keys that would unlock the doors of his servitude; Frank would not allow the monsters to come out of the closet and steal her soul; and Appleman fought a war armed only with courage and determination.
For Frederick Douglas, reading and writing were the devices that would enable him to gain control and open the doors to freedom.  Douglass realized that he had once been "shut up in mental darkness," and that literacy would lead him down the "pathway from slavery to freedom" (83, 36), so he fights to become literate.  This example of perseverance and determination can instill in the student the importance of an education.  The Narrative allowed Douglass to free himself from the last shackle of his enslavement.  It was a catharsis and a platform from which the voice of reason could be heard.
Similarly, The Diary of a Young Girl was also a catharsis for its author, Anne Frank.  Moreover, The Diary gives its reader the ecstasy of an angel's voice rising above the hell on earth created by the Nazis.  Because she was Jewish, Anne Frank was torn from her world of childish giggles, schoolgirl secrets and family security and thrown into a situation that could easily have destroyed her faith in humanity.  Instead, Anne spent her two-year imprisonment harboring hope for a better tomorrow and maintaining respect for the human race.  Anne's legacy is best exemplified in the last words written in her diary, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart."  By saying that all people are really good at heart she showed compassion even for her tormentors.  Anger and hatred had no place in Anne's life and through her tenderness and courage we learn of tolerance and hope. 
Courage was not in short supply during the Holocaust.  At a time when only the strong, resourceful and lucky would survive, Alicia Appleman refused to die.  Her bravery and sacrifices serve as a shining example for young people of what can be accomplished when you believe in yourself.  She teaches the need to fight hatred and prejudice, and breaks down the image of the helpless child.  Because Alicia decided that there would be no more death in her family, when the Nazis came to her home looking for her mother, Alicia quickly answers to her mother's name.  She knows that her mother would be killed if she were taken by the Nazis; therefore, she bravely assumes her mother's identity to save her mother's life.  This not only shows Alicia's courage and determination, but her quick wittedness in a moment of extreme pressure.  By reading Alicia: My Story, the young student can learn that each of us can make a difference and the power to do so lies within each of us.

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