Friday, May 28, 2010

The Anne Frank Case: Simon Wiesenthal's Search for the Truth

The Anne Frank Case: Simon Wiesenthal's Search for the Truth is primarily the biography of Simon Wiesenthal who lived through the Holocaust years in a number of concentration and death camps and survived to have a tremendous impact on the post-war world. This excellent work provides a complete biography of Wiesenthal while focusing on one of his more noted accomplishments.

In 1958, Wiesenthal was living in Linz, Austria with his wife and recieved a phone call to come to the Landes Theater. Neo-Nazi teenagers were heckling the actors who were performing the stage version of The Diary of Anne Frank. They said the diary was a fake. After doing some investigating on the group of teenagers, Wiesenthal found that most people in his area agreed that the diary was a forgery, being used to extract more money for survivors. Wiesenthal vowed to prove Anne's existence to these young teens by locating the SS officer who arrested Anne and her family.

As Wiesenthal searches for the officer, the author provides the reader with the reason Wiesenthal was willing to spend so much time on this case. A fairly encompassing biography of the man who spent years of his life searching for, and finding, Nazi war criminals is both sad and illuminating. As is often the case, when Wiesenthal found the SS officer Silberbauer, he discovered that the man worked only blocks from his office in Vienna for the Austrian police force. Although Wiesenthal never spoke with any of the teenagers who disrupted the play, he hoped that they all saw the sensational story on the national news and realized that they were wrong. When asked why he continued with his search for war criminals, bringing over 1,100 to justice, Wiesenthal replied,

When we come to the other world and meet the millions of Jews who died in the camps and they ask us, "What have you done?" there will be many answers....But I will say, "I didn't forget you." (p. 34)

The author provides another more indepth biography of Wiesenthal at the end of the book, along with a small glossary and references for factual information contained in the story. These extra sources of information make this book useful for both literature studies and reference information.

I like to look for lesson plans or useful webpages to allow readers to expand their knowledge or the knowledge of children they teach. In many cases, if you go to the publisher's website, you will find an educator's guide of some sort. Here is a great guide put together by Holiday House.

Another source of information on both Wiesenthal and the Holocaust is the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Also visit the museums or resources affiliated with the Center:
TITLE: The Anne Frank Case: Simon Wiesenthal's Search for the Truth
AUTHOR: Susan Goldman Rubin
ILLUSTRATOR: Bill Farnsworth
TYPE: Biography, Holocaust literature
RECOMMEND: I like that this book is based in facts and provides references, which introduces young people to the idea that our factual statements must be grounded in other primary sources. In addition, Wiesenthal is someone who should be recognized for his contributions.

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