WCU Grad Student Finds Adolescent Resilience in Holocaust Diaries

Dan Weckerly
Image via Erica Thompson, West Chester University.
WCU grad student Jenna Walmer, left, and professor Dr. Lauri Hyers.

Jenna Walmer, a West Chester University graduate student, prepared her thesis on adolescent resilience during the Holocaust by focusing on diaries written by two young women, Anne Frank and Renia Spiegel, writes Bill Rettew for the Daily Local News.

Walmer noted the similarities in the adolescent development of both Frank and Spiegel in her thesis, including their sexual awakenings, physical changes, and social relationships.

“The diaries show the capability of adolescent girls to be resilient,” she said.

Professor of history and director of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program Jonathan Friedman said that, using different and unique methodologies, Walmer parsed out a saga of two teenagers finding a normal existence in horrific times.

“They were trying to find a normal life, and they didn’t know their fate,” he said. “They shed a light on the enormity of human tragedy.”

Walmer’s thesis advisor, Dr. Lauri Hyers, who is a Social Psychologist in the Psychology Department of WCU, emphasized the importance of both the diaries and Walmer’s work.

“Diaries provide an excellent window into everyday, lived experience,” Hyers said.

Walmer’s thesis, titled “Adolescent Resilience in the Holocaust Diaries of Anne Frank and Renia Spiegel,” was successfully defended and published.

Read more about Jenna Walmer’s thesis in the Daily Local News.