The diary of a young gir.., p.10
The Diary of a Young Girl, p.10Anne Frank
You mustn’t get the idea that he’s starving. We found bread, cheese, jam and eggs in his cupboard. It’s absolutely disgraceful that Dussel, whom we’ve treated with such kindness and whom we took in to save from destruction, should stuff himself behind our backs and not give us anything. After all, we’ve shared all we had with him! But what’s worse, in our opinion, is that he’s so stingy with respect to Mr. Kleiman, Mr. Voskuijl and Bep. He doesn’t give them a thing. In Dussel’s view the oranges that Kleiman so badly needs for his sick stomach will benefit his own stomach even more.
Tonight the guns have been banging away so much that I’ve already had to gather up my belongings four times. Today I packed a suitcase with the stuff I’d need in case we had to flee, but as Mother correctly noted, “Where would you go?”
All of Holland is being punished for the workers’ strikes. Martial law has been declared, and everyone is going to get one less butter coupon. What naughty children.
I washed Mother’s hair this evening, which is no easy task these days. We have to use a very sticky liquid cleanser because there’s no more shampoo. Besides that, Moms had a hard time combing her hair because the family comb has only ten teeth left.
SUNDAY, MAY 2, 1943
When I think about our lives here, I usually come to the conclusion that we live in a paradise compared to the Jews who aren’t in hiding. All the same, later on, when everything has returned to normal, I’ll probably wonder how we, who always lived in such comfortable circumstances, could have “sunk” so low. With respect to manners, I mean. For example, the same oilcloth has covered the dining table ever since we’ve been here. After so much use, it’s hardly what you’d call spotless. I do my best to clean it, but since the dishcloth was also purchased before we went into hiding and consists of more holes than cloth, it’s a thankless task. The van Daans have been sleeping all winter long on the same flannel sheet, which can’t be washed because detergent is rationed and in short supply. Besides, it’s of such poor quality that it’s practically useless. Father is walking around in frayed trousers, and his tie is also showing signs of wear and tear. Mama’s corset snapped today and is beyond repair, while Margot is wearing a bra that’s two sizes too small. Mother and Margot have shared the same three undershirts the entire winter, and mine are so small they don’t even cover my stomach. These are all things that can be overcome, but I sometimes wonder: how can we, whose every possession, from my underpants to Father’s shaving brush, is so old and worn, ever hope to regain the position we had before the war?
SUNDAY, MAY 2, 1943
The Attitude of the Annex Residents Toward the War
Mr. van Daan. In the opinion of us all, this revered gentleman has great insight into politics. Nevertheless, he predicts we’ll have to stay here until the end of ’43. That’s a very long time, and yet it’s possible to hold out until then. But who can assure us that this war, which has caused nothing but pain and sorrow, will then be over? And that nothing will have happened to us and our helpers long before that time? No one! That’s why each and every day is filled with tension. Expectation and hope generate tension, as does fear—for example, when we hear a noise inside or outside the house, when the guns go off or when we read new “proclamations” in the paper, since we’re afraid our helpers might be forced to go into hiding themselves sometime. These days everyone is talking about having to hide. We don’t know how many people are actually in hiding; of course, the number is relatively small compared to the general population, but later on we’ll no doubt be astonished at how many good people in Holland were willing to take Jews and Christians, with or without money, into their homes. There’re also an unbelievable number of people with false identity papers.
Mrs. van Daan. When this beautiful damsel (by her own account) heard that it was getting easier these days to obtain false IDs, she immediately proposed that we each have one made. As if there were nothing to it, as if Father and Mr. van Daan were made of money.
Mrs. van Daan is always saying the most ridiculous things, and her Putti is often exasperated. But that’s not surprising, because one day Kerli announces, “When this is all over, I’m going to have myself baptized”; and the next, “As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to go to Jerusalem. I only feel at home with other Jews!”
Pim is a big optimist, but he always has his reasons.
Mr. Dussel makes up everything as he goes along, and anyone wishing to contradict His Majesty had better think twice. In Albert Dussel’s home his word is law, but that doesn’t suit Anne Frank in the least.
What the other members of the Annex family think about the war doesn’t matter. When it comes to politics, these four are the only ones who count. Actually, only two of them do, but Madame van Daan and Dussel include themselves as well.
TUESDAY, MAY 18, 1943
I recently witnessed a fierce dogfight between German and English pilots. Unfortunately, a couple of Allied airmen had to jump out of their burning plane. Our milkman, who lives in Halfweg, saw four Canadians sitting along the side of the road, and one of them spoke fluent Dutch. He asked the milkman if he had a light for his cigarette, and then told him the crew had consisted of six men. The pilot had been burned to death, and the fifth crew member had hidden himself somewhere. The German Security Police came to pick up the four remaining men, none of whom were injured. After parachuting out of a flaming plane, how can anyone have such presence of mind?
Although it’s undeniably hot, we have to light a fire every other day to burn our vegetable peelings and garbage. We can’t throw anything into the trash cans, because the warehouse employees might see it. One small act of carelessness and we’re done for!
All college students are being asked to sign an official statement to the effect that they “sympathize with the Germans and approve of the New Order.” Eighty percent have decided to obey the dictates of their conscience, but the penalty will be severe. Any student refusing to sign will be sent to a German labor camp. What’s to become of the youth of our country if they’ve all got to do hard labor in Germany?
Last night the guns were making so much noise that Mother shut the window; I was in Pim’s bed. Suddenly, right above our heads, we heard Mrs. van D. leap up, as if she’d been bitten by Mouschi. This was followed by a loud boom, which sounded as if a firebomb had landed beside my bed. “Lights! Lights!” I screamed.
Pim switched on the lamp. I expected the room to burst into flames any minute. Nothing happened. We all rushed upstairs to see what was going on. Mr. and Mrs. van D. had seen a red glow through the open window, and he thought there was a fire nearby, while she was certain our house was ablaze. Mrs. van D. was already standing beside her bed with her knees knocking when the boom came. Dussel stayed upstairs to smoke a cigarette, and we crawled back into bed. Less than fifteen minutes later the shooting started again. Mrs. van D. sprang out of bed and went downstairs to Dussel’s room to seek the comfort she was unable to find with her spouse. Dussel welcomed her with the words “Come into my bed, my child!”
We burst into peals of laughter, and the roar of the guns bothered us no more; our fears had all been swept away.
SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 1943
The poem Father composed for my birthday is too nice to keep to myself.
Since Pim writes his verses only in German, Margot volunteered to translate it into Dutch. See for yourself whether Margot hasn’t done herself proud. It begins with the usual summary of the year’s events and then continues:
Margot had trouble getting the part about food to rhyme, so I’m leaving it out. But aside from that, don’t you think it’s a good poem?
For the rest, I’ve been thoroughly spoiled and have received a number of lovely presents, including a big book on my favorite subject, Greek and Roman mythology. Nor can I complain about the lack of candy; everyone had dipped into their last reserves. As the Benjamin
TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 1943
Heaps of things have happened, but I often think I’m boring you with my dreary chitchat and that you’d just as soon have fewer letters. So I’ll keep the news brief.
Mr. Voskuijl wasn’t operated on for his ulcer after all. Once the doctors had him on the operating table and opened him up, they saw that he had cancer. It was in such an advanced stage that an operation was pointless. So they stitched him up again, kept him in the hospital for three weeks, fed him well and sent him back home. But they made an unforgivable error: they told the poor man exactly what was in store for him. He can’t work anymore, and he’s just sitting at home, surrounded by his eight children, brooding about his approaching death. I feel very sorry for him and hate not being able to go out; otherwise, I’d visit him as often as I could and help take his mind off matters. Now the good man can no longer let us know what’s being said and done in the warehouse, which is a disaster for us. Mr. Voskuijl was our greatest source of help and support when it came to safety measures. We miss him very much.
Next month it’s our turn to hand over our radio to the authorities. Mr. Kleiman has a small set hidden in his home that he’s giving us to replace our beautiful cabinet radio. It’s a pity we have to turn in our big Philips, but when you’re in hiding, you can’t afford to bring the authorities down on your heads. Of course, we’ll put the “baby” radio upstairs. What’s a clandestine radio when there are already clandestine Jews and clandestine money?
All over the country people are trying to get hold of an old radio that they can hand over instead of their “morale booster.” It’s true: as the reports from outside grow worse and worse, the radio, with its wondrous voice, helps us not to lose heart and to keep telling ourselves, “Cheer up, keep your spirits high, things are bound to get better!”
SUNDAY, JULY 11, 1943
To get back to the subject of child-rearing (for the umpteenth time), let me tell you that I’m doing my best to be helpful, friendly and kind and to do all I can to keep the rain of rebukes down to a light drizzle. It’s not easy trying to behave like a model child with people you can’t stand, especially when you don’t mean a word of it. But I can see that a little hypocrisy gets me a lot further than my old method of saying exactly what I think (even though no one ever asks my opinion or cares one way or another). Of course, I often forget my role and find it impossible to curb my anger when they’re unfair, so that they spend the next month saying I’m the most impertinent girl in the world. Don’t you think I’m to be pitied sometimes? It’s a good thing I’m not the grouchy type, because then I might become sour and bad-tempered. I can usually see the humorous side of their scoldings, but it’s easier when somebody else is being raked over the coals.
Further, I’ve decided (after a great deal of thought) to drop the shorthand. First, so that I have more time for my other subjects, and second, because of my eyes. That’s a sad story. I’ve become very nearsighted and should have had glasses ages ago. (Ugh, won’t I look like a dope!). But as you know, people in hiding can’t …
Yesterday all anyone here could talk about was Anne’s eyes, because Mother had suggested I go to the ophthalmologist with Mrs. Kleiman. Just hearing this made my knees weak, since it’s no small matter. Going outside! Just think of it, walking down the street! I can’t imagine it. I was petrified at first, and then glad. But it’s not as simple as all that; the various authorities who had to approve such a step were unable to reach a quick decision. They first had to carefully weigh all the difficulties and risks, though Miep was ready to set off immediately with me in tow. In the meantime, I’d taken my gray coat from the closet, but it was so small it looked as if it might have belonged to my little sister. We lowered the hem, but I still couldn’t button it. I’m really curious to see what they decide, only I don’t think they’ll ever work out a plan, because the British have landed in Sicily and Father’s all set for a “quick finish.”
Bep’s been giving Margot and me a lot of office work to do. It makes us both feel important, and it’s a big help to her. Anyone can file letters and make entries in a sales book, but we do it with remarkable accuracy.
Miep has so much to carry she looks like a pack mule. She goes forth nearly every day to scrounge up vegetables, and then bicycles back with her purchases in large shopping bags. She’s also the one who brings five library books with her every Saturday. We long for Saturdays because that means books. We’re like a bunch of little kids with a present. Ordinary people don’t know how much books can mean to someone who’s cooped up. Our only diversions are reading, studying and listening to the radio.
TUESDAY, JULY 13, 1943
The Best Little Table
Yesterday afternoon Father gave me permission to ask Mr. Dussel whether he would please be so good as to allow me (see how polite I am?) to use the table in our room two afternoons a week, from four to five-thirty. I already sit there every day from two-thirty to four while Dussel takes a nap, but the rest of the time the room and the table are off-limits to me. It’s impossible to study next door in the afternoon, because there’s too much going on. Besides, Father sometimes likes to sit at the desk during the afternoon.
So it seemed like a reasonable request, and I asked Dussel very politely. What do you think the learned gentleman’s reply was? “No.” Just plain “No!”
I was incensed and wasn’t about to let myself be put off like that. I asked him the reason for his “No,” but this didn’t get me anywhere. The gist of his reply was: “I have to study too, you know, and if I can’t do that in the afternoons, I won’t be able to fit it in at all. I have to finish the task I’ve set for myself; otherwise, there’s no point in starting. Besides, you aren’t serious about your studies. Mythology—what kind of work is that? Reading and knitting don’t count either. I use that table and I’m not going to give it up!”
I replied, “Mr. Dussel, I do take my work seriously. I can’t study next door in the afternoons, and I would appreciate it if you would reconsider my request!”
Having said these words, the insulted Anne turned around and pretended the learned doctor wasn’t there. I was seething with rage and felt that Dussel had been incredibly rude (which he certainly had been) and that I’d been very polite.
That evening, when I managed to get hold of Pim, I told him what had happened and we discussed what my next step should be, because I had no intention of giving up and preferred to deal with the matter myself. Pim gave me a rough idea of how to approach Dussel, but cautioned me to wait until the next day, since I was in such a flap. I ignored this last piece of advice and waited for Dussel after the dishes had been done. Pim was sitting next door and that had a calming effect.
I began, “Mr. Dussel, you seem to believe further discussion of the matter is pointless, but I beg you to reconsider.”
Dussel gave me his most charming smile and said, “I’m always prepared to discuss the matter, even though it’s already been settled.”
I went on talking, despite Dussel’s repeated interruptions. “When you first came here,” I said, “we agreed that the room was to be shared by the two of us. If we were to divide it fairly, you’d have the entire morning and I’d have the entire afternoon! I’m not asking for that much, but two afternoons a week does seem reasonable to me.”
Dussel leapt out of his chair as if he’d sat on a pin. “You have no business talking about your rights to the room. Where am I supposed to go? Maybe I should ask Mr. van Daan to build me a cubbyhole in the attic. You’re not the only one who can’t find a quiet place to work. You’re always looking for a fight. If your sister Margot, who has more right to work space than you do, had come to me with the same request, I’d never even have thought of refusing, but you …”
And once again he brought up the business about the myt
He went on and on until there was such a deluge of words I could hardly keep up. For one fleeting moment I thought, “Him and his lies. I’ll smack his ugly mug so hard he’ll go bouncing off the wall!” But the next moment I thought, “Calm down, he’s not worth getting so upset about!”
At long last Mr. Dussel’s fury was spent, and he left the room with an expression of triumph mixed with wrath, his coat pockets bulging with food.
I went running over to Father and recounted the entire story, or at least those parts he hadn’t been able to follow himself. Pim decided to talk to Dussel that very same evening, and they spoke for more than half an hour. They first discussed whether Anne should be allowed to use the table, yes or no. Father said that he and Dussel had dealt with the subject once before, at which time he’d professed to agree with Dussel because he didn’t want to contradict the elder in front of the younger, but that, even then, he hadn’t thought it was fair. Dussel felt I had no right to talk as if he were an intruder laying claim to everything in sight. But Father protested strongly, since he himself had heard me say nothing of the kind. And so the conversation went back and forth, with Father defending my “selfishness” and my “busywork” and Dussel grumbling the whole time.
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