language arts, plays

On October 1, 1956, The Diary of Anne Frank opened simultaneously in seven cities in Germany. At the end of the play, the audience sat silently without applauding. Not long after the play’s opening, Germans began openly expressing remorse for the Holocaust. This was an important change because, up until this point, Germans had not publicly spoken about the Holocaust.

Think about the audience’s reaction to the opening of The Diary of Anne Frank, and think about the events that followed. Why do you think audiences were silent at the end of the play? Why might Germans not have talked about the Holocaust until years after the war had ended? How do you think The Diary of Anne Frank helped people talk about the Holocaust?

My answer: I think that the audience could have been silent at the end of the play because they did not like the way they as a culture were portrayed or they could have been thinking. Maybe they did not think it was polite to clap and their silence was a sort of guilt or observance, even reverence. In my experience clapping is sort of a "band-wagon" type of thing so it could be possible that no one just decided to make the first move or they felt it was too serious of a matter to be praised as if lighthearted fun.

Germans might not have talked about the Holocaust until years after the war had ended because of guilt, I'm not one to categorize all German people and say that they all felt a specific way so I think it's safe to say there were a wide range of emotions and thoughts held by different German individuals, the most prominent ones likely being guilt, shame and bitterness.

I think that The Diary of Anne Frank helped people talk about the Holocaust because of the manner in which Anne stated things. She spoke of things that weren't discussed and were avoided, but did so in a blithe, truthful and well... frank manner. Anne still believed that humans were truly good at heart. This could be accepted by some as a sort of forgiveness.

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asked by Maria
  1. I agree.

    I suspect the silent audience was also a response to shock.

    It reminds me of visiting Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam many years later. The tourists were quiet, showing the reverence seen in churches and cathedrals.

  2. Thank you, Ms. Sue.

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    posted by Maria

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