Alfred Schenker’s Secret War Diary, 1941-43

Write an essay about Alfred Schenker’s Secret War Diary, 1941-43, in which you focus on one theme in the diary. For example, heroism vs. villainy, courage vs. cowardice, the Nazis’ plan of annihilation of the Jews vs. the courage of those who helped save them, identity vs. loss of the Self, etc., as it relates to (and is embodied by) Alfred Schenker and the people he talks about in the diary.

Use examples from the Secret War Diary, 1941-43 to illustrate your ideas as they relate to Alfred Schenker and the people he talks about (Ukrainians, Poles, Nazis, Russians, etc.)

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Step 1 – PLAN – Look at the prompt or question: Think about and decide what it is asking you to do. Do you have to analyze why something is happening in a story? Explain how and why you might relate to a story or to a subject? State the Overall Theme that is driving the actions of the characters in the story, and explain why it, and related smaller themes, are motivating them to behave as they do? The answer is most likely, yes, if you are going to write an essay.

Step 2 – Brainstorming or thinking about the prompt, or question, and the topic it is about: Make a list of all words and ideas that relate to everything you can think of about the prompt, the question, the topic, the text it is based on, and extended and/or related ideas (This is called connecting so you can synthesize two ideas to make a new, bigger one). Be as specific as possible. Keep thinking about how things are connected or related until you get to the base or foundation of what is driving them (Then you can stop).

Step 3 – Think about the genre of the essay: This is the form that you will be using and the format that you will be writing in to respond to the prompt or question. An essay, specifically an analytical or persuasive one, can be seen as a “space” where you provide a specific and in-depth discussion of a topic. This often means not just describing events, or saying “what” has happened, but also making sure to say “why” each event happened, or why a character was driven to act in the way that he or she did. What was his or her psychological motivation? What did he or she gain, internally, emotionally, and psychologically, from doing that, or that series of actions?

An essay is about more than “what” is happening. It is also about “why” things are happening in a text, your focus should be on both describing and explaining the action and events that are happening in a text, or as they relate to an issue or topic that is being discussed.

Step 4 – Organizing it all in Essay format: Take all of the words you have come up with about the prompt, question, and the text and put them in a clear and specific order that matches the sequence of events in the text (e.g., if it’s a story, then your words to describe and explain should match each part of the story in the order in which it is presented). Add all relevant words that come directly from the text. These include exact quotes and examples of action by the characters or players.

Step 5 – WRITE – a. Start with the Introduction as your first part of the Essay. The Introduction can be a clear statement that establishes your position or idea about what is driving the entire text, or what is the big idea that is driving a character. Be as specific as possible. Use idea words which name or identify specific emotional/psychological states that human beings feel and experience.

Come up with a title which encapsulates or encompasses the entire text in one sentence. It could also be a question, but it should contain the driving idea behind the text that you are going to explore/discuss. Your title should aim to include: WHO is doing the action, WHAT the action is, WHERE the action or sequence of events is occurring, WHEN the action is happening for societal context, WHY he/she is doing the action, and HOW the action is being carried out by the character(s). Try to step back and look at the big picture for your title. In other words, think of what the characters are doing, and are driven by, relates to life, history, the societal context(s) they are constrained by, and state them in terms of an objective ideal they are trying to match (or are driven by).

You may also start with a question (but, you must answer it in the next sentence to reinforce your position, or list three key things that you think the text is about, but do so in a way that connects to your overall theme.

b. Aim for a short paragraph of approximately 3-5 sentences. Then extend the meaning of your opening statement by explaining it, briefly.

c. Write the Body paragraphs to match the order of the action as it is presented in the story/text. Use all of the words you have thought of on your own to describe what is happening, so you are not just repeating what the author already wrote.

d. Aim for 5 sentences per paragraph which match the following order:

Transition (Connects to the previous paragraph)

Idea (This is the center of the paragraph – the “Why?” – and relates to the Overall Theme, in the order of the action as it is presented)

Explanation (This is “What?” the obvious reason or meaning or context of the situation is, and extends or elaborates upon your idea

Example (This is the concrete evidence from the text – we can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch – or the characters can. This could be an exact quote or a paraphrase as well).

Big Finish – (This wraps up or restates the same idea in this paragraph in bigger terms – how it relates to society, Fate, a lesson the character learns, etc.)

Try to write enough paragraphs so that you “match” the action in the text. The focus should be on the purpose of each sentence in a “unit” of the paragraph, and how all of those “units” are linked in order so that they match the text AND develop your position/idea/argument. Cover what is happening – and why it is happening in the text from the beginning of the action to the end.

e. Write the Conclusion – Reiterate your position in the Introduction. This is not a summing up the entire story/text by making a statement that mirrors what you wrote in the Introduction, perhaps in larger terms. Here, this is not where you give your opinion, or how it relates to you, but how it relates to society, the big picture, etc.

Step 6 – PROOFREAD – Read the whole essay over from the beginning to the end to make sure that the sequence of what you wrote matches the sequence of events in the text. Make any grammatical, syntactical, spelling, and/or conceptual corrections.

Step 7 – Hand it in and feel good and relax.

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