Anne Frank, Alicia Appleman and Frederick Douglass
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
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.