The diary of a young gir.., p.13
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       The Diary of a Young Girl, p.13

           Anne Frank
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  FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  Every time I write to you, something special has happened, usually unpleasant rather than pleasant. This time, however, something wonderful is going on.

  On Wednesday, September 8, we were listening to the seven o’clock news when we heard an announcement: “Here is some of the best news of the war so far: Italy has capitulated.” Italy has unconditionally surrendered! The Dutch broadcast from England began at eight-fifteen with the news: “Listeners, an hour and fifteen minutes ago, just as I finished writing my daily report, we received the wonderful news of Italy’s capitulation. I tell you, I never tossed my notes into the wastepaper basket with more delight than I did today!”

  “God Save the King,” the American national anthem and the Russian “Internationale” were played. As always, the Dutch program was uplifting without being too optimistic.

  The British have landed in Naples. Northern Italy is occupied by the Germans. The truce was signed on Friday, September 3, the day the British landed in Italy. The Germans are ranting and raving in all the newspapers at the treachery of Badoglio and the Italian king.

  Still, there’s bad news as well. It’s about Mr. Kleiman. As you know, we all like him very much. He’s unfailingly cheerful and amazingly brave, despite the fact that he’s always sick and in pain and can’t eat much or do a lot of walking. “When Mr. Kleiman enters a room, the sun begins to shine,” Mother said recently, and she’s absolutely right.

  Now it seems he has to go to the hospital for a very difficult operation on his stomach, and will have to stay there for at least four weeks. You should have seen him when he told us good-bye. He acted so normally, as though he were just off to do an errand.

  Yours, Anne

  THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  Relationships here in the Annex are getting worse all the time. We don’t dare open our mouths at mealtime (except to slip in a bite of food), because no matter what we say, someone is bound to resent it or take it the wrong way. Mr. Voskuijl occasionally comes to visit us. Unfortunately, he’s not doing very well. He isn’t making it any easier for his family, because his attitude seems to be: what do I care, I’m going to die anyway! When I think how touchy everyone is here, I can just imagine what it must be like at the Voskuijls’.

  I’ve been taking valerian every day to fight the anxiety and depression, but it doesn’t stop me from being even more miserable the next day. A good hearty laugh would help more than ten valerian drops, but we’ve almost forgotten how to laugh. Sometimes I’m afraid my face is going to sag with all this sorrow and that my mouth is going to permanently droop at the corners. The others aren’t doing any better. Everyone here is dreading the great terror known as winter.

  Another fact that doesn’t exactly brighten up our days is that Mr. van Maaren, the man who works in the warehouse, is getting suspicious about the Annex. A person with any brains must have noticed by now that Miep sometimes says she’s going to the lab, Bep to the file room and Mr. Kleiman to the Opekta supplies, while Mr. Kugler claims the Annex doesn’t belong to this building at all, but to the one next door.

  We wouldn’t care what Mr. van Maaren thought of the situation except that he’s known to be unreliable and to possess a high degree of curiosity. He’s not one who can be put off with a flimsy excuse.

  One day Mr. Kugler wanted to be extra cautious, so at twenty past twelve he put on his coat and went to the drugstore around the corner. Less than five minutes later he was back, and he sneaked up the stairs like a thief to visit us. At one-fifteen he started to leave, but Bep met him on the landing and warned him that van Maaren was in the office. Mr. Kugler did an about-face and stayed with us until one-thirty. Then he took off his shoes and went in his stockinged feet (despite his cold) to the front attic and down the other stairway, taking one step at a time to avoid the creaks. It took him fifteen minutes to negotiate the stairs, but he wound up safely in the office after having entered from the outside.

  In the meantime, Bep had gotten rid of van Maaren and come to get Mr. Kugler from the Annex. But he’d already left and at that moment was still tiptoeing down the stairs. What must the passersby have thought when they saw the manager putting on his shoes outside? Hey, you there, in the socks!

  Yours, Anne

  WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  It’s Mrs. van Daan’s birthday. Other than one ration stamp each for cheese, meat and bread, all she received from us was a jar of jam. Her husband, Dussel and the office staff gave her nothing but flowers and also food. Such are the times we live in!

  Bep had a nervous fit last week because she had so many errands to do. Ten times a day people were sending her out for something, each time insisting she go right away or go again or that she’d done it all wrong. And when you think that she has her regular office work to do, that Mr. Kleiman is sick, that Miep is home with a cold and that Bep herself has a sprained ankle, boyfriend troubles and a grouchy father, it’s no wonder she’s at the end of her tether. We comforted her and told her that if she’d put her foot down once or twice and say she didn’t have the time, the shopping lists would shrink of their own accord.

  Saturday there was a big drama, the likes of which have never been seen here before. It started with a discussion of van Maaren and ended in a general argument and tears. Dussel complained to Mother that he was being treated like a leper, that no one was friendly to him and that, after all, he hadn’t done anything to deserve it. This was followed by a lot of sweet talk, which luckily Mother didn’t fall for this time. She told him we were disappointed in him and that, on more than one occasion, he’d been a source of great annoyance. Dussel promised her the moon, but, as usual, we haven’t seen so much as a beam.

  There’s trouble brewing with the van Daans, I can tell! Father’s furious because they’re cheating us: they’ve been holding back meat and other things. Oh, what kind of bombshell is about to burst now? If only I weren’t so involved in all these skirmishes! If only I could leave here! They’re driving us crazy!

  Yours, Anne

  SUNDAY, OCTOBER 17, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  Mr. Kleiman is back, thank goodness! He looks a bit pale, and yet he cheerfully set off to sell some clothes for Mr. van Daan.

  The disagreeable fact is that Mr. van Daan has run out of money. He lost his last hundred guilders in the warehouse, which is still creating trouble for us: the men are wondering how a hundred guilders could wind up in the warehouse on a Monday morning. Suspicion abounds. Meanwhile, the hundred guilders have been stolen. Who’s the thief?

  But I was talking about the money shortage. Mrs. van D. has scads of dresses, coats and shoes, none of which she feels she can do without. Mr. van D.’s suit is difficult to sell, and Peter’s bike was put on the block, but is back again, since nobody wanted it. But the story doesn’t end there. You see, Mrs. van D. is going to have to part with her fur coat. In her opinion, the firm should pay for our upkeep, but that’s ridiculous. They just had a flaming row about it and have entered the “oh, my sweet Putti” and “darling Kerli” stage of reconciliation.

  My mind boggles at the profanity this honorable house has had to endure in the past month. Father walks around with his lips pressed together, and whenever he hears his name, he looks up in alarm, as if he’s afraid he’ll be called upon to resolve another delicate problem. Mother’s so wrought up her cheeks are blotched with red, Margot complains of headaches, Dussel can’t sleep, Mrs. van D. frets and fumes all day long, and I’ve gone completely round the bend. To tell you the truth, I sometimes forget who we’re at odds with and who we’re not.

  The only way to take my mind off it is to study, and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.

  Yours, Anne

  FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1943

  My dearest Kitty,

  Mr. Kleiman is out again; his stomach won’t give him a moment’s peace. He doesn’t
even know whether it’s stopped bleeding. He came to tell us he wasn’t feeling well and was going home, and for the first time he seemed really down.

  Mr. and Mrs. van D. have had more raging battles. The reason is simple: they’re broke. They wanted to sell an overcoat and a suit of Mr. van D.’s, but were unable to find any buyers. His prices were way too high.

  Some time ago Mr. Kleiman was talking about a furrier he knows. This gave Mr. van D. the idea of selling his wife’s fur coat. It’s made of rabbit skin, and she’s had it for seventeen years. Mrs. van D. got 325 guilders for it, an enormous amount. She wanted to keep the money herself to buy new clothes after the war, and it took some doing before Mr. van D. could make her understand that it was desperately needed to cover household expenses.

  You can’t imagine the screaming, shouting, stamping of feet and swearing that went on. It was terrifying. My family stood holding its breath at the bottom of the stairs, in case it might be necessary to drag them apart. All the bickering, tears and nervous tension have become such a stress and strain that I fall into my bed at night crying and thanking my lucky stars that I have half an hour to myself.

  I’m doing fine, except I’ve got no appetite. I keep hearing: “Goodness, you look awful!” I must admit they’re doing their best to keep me in condition: they’re plying me with dextrose, cod-liver oil, brewer’s yeast and calcium. My nerves often get the better of me, especially on Sundays; that’s when I really feel miserable. The atmosphere is stifling, sluggish, leaden. Outside, you don’t hear a single bird, and a deathly, oppressive silence hangs over the house and clings to me as if it were going to drag me into the deepest regions of the underworld. At times like these, Father, Mother and Margot don’t matter to me in the least. I wander from room to room, climb up and down the stairs and feel like a songbird whose wings have been ripped off and who keeps hurling itself against the bars of its dark cage. “Let me out, where there’s fresh air and laughter!” a voice within me cries. I don’t even bother to reply anymore, but lie down on the divan. Sleep makes the silence and the terrible fear go by more quickly, helps pass the time, since it’s impossible to kill it.

  Yours, Anne

  SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  Mother’s nerves are very much on edge, and that doesn’t bode well for me. Is it just a coincidence that Father and Mother never scold Margot and always blame me for everything? Last night, for example, Margot was reading a book with beautiful illustrations; she got up and put the book aside for later. I wasn’t doing anything, so I picked it up and began looking at the pictures. Margot came back, saw “her” book in my hands, knitted her brow and angrily demanded the book back. I wanted to look through it some more. Margot got madder by the minute, and Mother butted in: “Margot was reading that book; give it back to her.”

  Father came in, and without even knowing what was going on, saw that Margot was being wronged and lashed out at me: “I’d like to see what you’d do if Margot was looking at one of your books!”

  I promptly gave in, put the book down and, according to them, left the room “in a huff.” I was neither huffy nor cross, but merely sad.

  It wasn’t right of Father to pass judgment without knowing what the issue was. I would have given the book to Margot myself, and a lot sooner, if Father and Mother hadn’t intervened and rushed to take Margot’s part, as if she were suffering some great injustice.

  Of course, Mother took Margot’s side; they always take each other’s sides. I’m so used to it that I’ve become completely indifferent to Mother’s rebukes and Margot’s moodiness. I love them, but only because they’re Mother and Margot. I don’t give a darn about them as people. As far as I’m concerned, they can go jump in a lake. It’s different with Father. When I see him being partial to Margot, approving Margot’s every action, praising her, hugging her, I feel a gnawing ache inside, because I’m crazy about him. I model myself after Father, and there’s no one in the world I love more. He doesn’t realize that he treats Margot differently than he does me: Margot just happens to be the smartest, the kindest, the prettiest and the best. But I have a right to be taken seriously too. I’ve always been the clown and mischief maker of the family; I’ve always had to pay double for my sins: once with scoldings and then again with my own sense of despair. I’m no longer satisfied with the meaningless affection or the supposedly serious talks. I long for something from Father that he’s incapable of giving. I’m not jealous of Margot; I never have been. I’m not envious of her brains or her beauty. It’s just that I’d like to feel that Father really loves me, not because I’m his child, but because I’m me, Anne.

  I cling to Father because my contempt of Mother is growing daily and it’s only through him that I’m able to retain the last ounce of family feeling I have left. He doesn’t understand that I sometimes need to vent my feelings for Mother. He doesn’t want to talk about it, and he avoids any discussion involving Mother’s failings.

  And yet Mother, with all her shortcomings, is tougher for me to deal with. I don’t know how I should act. I can’t very well confront her with her carelessness, her sarcasm and her hard-heartedness, yet I can’t continue to take the blame for everything.

  I’m the opposite of Mother, so of course we clash. I don’t mean to judge her; I don’t have that right. I’m simply looking at her as a mother. She’s not a mother to me—I have to mother myself. I’ve cut myself adrift from them. I’m charting my own course, and we’ll see where it leads me. I have no choice, because I can picture what a mother and a wife should be and can’t seem to find anything of the sort in the woman I’m supposed to call “Mother.”

  I tell myself time and again to overlook Mother’s bad example. I only want to see her good points, and to look inside myself for what’s lacking in her. But it doesn’t work, and the worst part is that Father and Mother don’t realize their own inadequacies and how much I blame them for letting me down. Are there any parents who can make their children completely happy?

  Sometimes I think God is trying to test me, both now and in the future. I’ll have to become a good person on my own, without anyone to serve as a model or advise me, but it’ll make me stronger in the end.

  Who else but me is ever going to read these letters? Who else but me can I turn to for comfort? I’m frequently in need of consolation, I often feel weak, and more often than not, I fail to meet expectations. I know this, and every day I resolve to do better.

  They aren’t consistent in their treatment of me. One day they say that Anne’s a sensible girl and entitled to know everything, and the next that Anne’s a silly goose who doesn’t know a thing and yet imagines she’s learned all she needs to know from books! I’m no longer the baby and spoiled little darling whose every deed can be laughed at. I have my own ideas, plans and ideals, but am unable to articulate them yet.

  Oh well. So much comes into my head at night when I’m alone, or during the day when I’m obliged to put up with people I can’t abide or who invariably misinterpret my intentions. That’s why I always wind up coming back to my diary—I start there and end there because Kitty’s always patient. I promise her that, despite everything, I’ll keep going, that I’ll find my own way and choke back my tears. I only wish I could see some results or, just once, receive encouragement from someone who loves me.

  Don’t condemn me, but think of me as a person who sometimes reaches the bursting point!

  Yours, Anne

  WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  To take our minds off matters as well as to develop them, Father ordered a catalog from a correspondence school. Margot pored through the thick brochure three times without finding anything to her liking and within her budget. Father was easier to satisfy and decided to write and ask for a trial lesson in “Elementary Latin.” No sooner said than done. The lesson arrived, Margot set to work enthusiastically and decided to take the course, despite the expense. It’s much too hard for me, though I’d
really like to learn Latin.

  To give me a new project as well, Father asked Mr. Kleiman for a children’s Bible so I could finally learn something about the New Testament.

  “Are you planning to give Anne a Bible for Hanukkah?” Margot asked, somewhat perturbed.

  “Yes … Well, maybe St. Nicholas Day would be a better occasion,” Father replied.

  Jesus and Hanukkah don’t exactly go together.

  Since the vacuum cleaner’s broken, I have to take an old brush to the rug every night. The window’s closed, the light’s on, the stove’s burning, and there I am brushing away at the rug. “That’s sure to be a problem,” I thought to myself the first time. “There’re bound to be complaints.” I was right: Mother got a headache from the thick clouds of dust whirling around the room, Margot’s new Latin dictionary was caked with dirt, and Pim grumbled that the floor didn’t look any different anyway. Small thanks for my pains.

  We’ve decided that from now on the stove is going to be lit at seven-thirty on Sunday mornings instead of five-thirty. I think it’s risky. What will the neighbors think of our smoking chimney?

  It’s the same with the curtains. Ever since we first went into hiding, they’ve been tacked firmly to the windows. Sometimes one of the ladies or gentlemen can’t resist the urge to peek outside. The result: a storm of reproaches. The response: “Oh, nobody will notice.” That’s how every act of carelessness begins and ends. No one will notice, no one will hear, no one will pay the least bit of attention. Easy to say, but is it true?

  At the moment, the tempestuous quarrels have subsided; only Dussel and the van Daans are still at loggerheads. When Dussel is talking about Mrs. van D., he invariably calls her “that old bat” or “that stupid hag,” and conversely, Mrs. van D. refers to our ever so learned gentleman as an “old maid” or a “touchy neurotic spinster,” etc.

 
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