The diary of a young gir.., p.14
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       The Diary of a Young Girl, p.14
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           Anne Frank

  The pot calling the kettle black!

  Yours, Anne

  MONDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 8, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  If you were to read all my letters in one sitting, you’d be struck by the fact that they were written in a variety of moods. It annoys me to be so dependent on the moods here in the Annex, but I’m not the only one: we’re all subject to them. If I’m engrossed in a book, I have to rearrange my thoughts before I can mingle with other people, because otherwise they might think I was strange. As you can see, I’m currently in the middle of a depression. I couldn’t really tell you what set it off, but I think it stems from my cowardice, which confronts me at every turn. This evening, when Bep was still here, the doorbell rang long and loud. I instantly turned white, my stomach churned, and my heart beat wildly—and all because I was afraid.

  At night in bed I see myself alone in a dungeon, without Father and Mother. Or I’m roaming the streets, or the Annex is on fire, or they come in the middle of the night to take us away and I crawl under my bed in desperation. I see everything as if it were actually taking place. And to think it might all happen soon!

  Miep often says she envies us because we have such peace and quiet here. That may be true, but she’s obviously not thinking about our fear.

  I simply can’t imagine the world will ever be normal again for us. I do talk about “after the war,” but it’s as if I were talking about a castle in the air, something that can never come true.

  I see the eight of us in the Annex as if we were a patch of blue sky surrounded by menacing black clouds. The perfectly round spot on which we’re standing is still safe, but the clouds are moving in on us, and the ring between us and the approaching danger is being pulled tighter and tighter. We’re surrounded by darkness and danger, and in our desperate search for a way out we keep bumping into each other. We look at the fighting down below and the peace and beauty up above. In the meantime, we’ve been cut off by the dark mass of clouds, so that we can go neither up nor down. It looms before us like an impenetrable wall, trying to crush us, but not yet able to. I can only cry out and implore, “Oh, ring, ring, open wide and let us out!”

  Yours, Anne

  THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  I have a good title for this chapter:

  Ode to My Fountain Pen

  In Memoriam

  My fountain pen was always one of my most prized possessions; I valued it highly, especially because it had a thick nib, and I can only write neatly with thick nibs. It has led a long and interesting fountain-pen life, which I will summarize below.

  When I was nine, my fountain pen (packed in cotton) arrived as a “sample of no commercial value” all the way from Aachen, where my grandmother (the kindly donor) used to live. I lay in bed with the flu, while the February winds howled around the apartment house. This splendid fountain pen came in a red leather case, and I showed it to my girlfriends the first chance I got. Me, Anne Frank, the proud owner of a fountain pen.

  When I was ten, I was allowed to take the pen to school, and to my surprise, the teacher even let me write with it. When I was eleven, however, my treasure had to be tucked away again, because my sixth-grade teacher allowed us to use only school pens and inkpots. When I was twelve, I started at the Jewish Lyceum and my fountain pen was given a new case in honor of the occasion. Not only did it have room for a pencil, it also had a zipper, which was much more impressive. When I was thirteen, the fountain pen went with me to the Annex, and together we’ve raced through countless diaries and compositions. I’d turned fourteen and my fountain pen was enjoying the last year of its life with me when …

  It was just after five on Friday afternoon. I came out of my room and was about to sit down at the table to write when I was roughly pushed to one side to make room for Margot and Father, who wanted to practice their Latin. The fountain pen remained unused on the table, while its owner, sighing, was forced to make do with a very tiny corner of the table, where she began rubbing beans. That’s how we remove mold from the beans and restore them to their original state. At a quarter to six I swept the floor, dumped the dirt into a newspaper, along with the rotten beans, and tossed it into the stove. A giant flame shot up, and I thought it was wonderful that the stove, which had been gasping its last breath, had made such a miraculous recovery.

  All was quiet again. The Latin students had left, and I sat down at the table to pick up where I’d left off. But no matter where I looked, my fountain pen was nowhere in sight. I took another look. Margot looked, Mother looked, Father looked, Dussel looked. But it had vanished.

  “Maybe it fell in the stove, along with the beans!” Margot suggested.

  “No, it couldn’t have!” I replied.

  But that evening, when my fountain pen still hadn’t turned up, we all assumed it had been burned, especially because celluloid is highly inflammable. Our darkest fears were confirmed the next day when Father went to empty the stove and discovered the clip, used to fasten it to a pocket, among the ashes. Not a trace of the gold nib was left. “It must have melted into stone,” Father conjectured.

  I’m left with one consolation, small though it may be: my fountain pen was cremated, just as I would like to be someday!

  Yours, Anne

  WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  Recent events have the house rocking on its foundations. Owing to an outbreak of diphtheria at Bep’s, she won’t be allowed to come in contact with us for six weeks. Without her, the cooking and shopping will be very difficult, not to mention how much we’ll miss her company. Mr. Kleiman is still in bed and has eaten nothing but gruel for three weeks. Mr. Kugler is up to his neck in work.

  Margot sends her Latin lessons to a teacher, who corrects and then returns them. She’s registered under Bep’s name. The teacher’s very nice, and witty too. I bet he’s glad to have such a smart student.

  Dussel is in a turmoil and we don’t know why. It all began with Dussel’s saying nothing when he was upstairs; he didn’t exchange so much as a word with either Mr. or Mrs. van Daan. We all noticed it. This went on for a few days, and then Mother took the opportunity to warn him about Mrs. van D., who could make life miserable for him. Dussel said Mr. van Daan had started the silent treatment and he had no intention of breaking it. I should explain that yesterday was November 16, the first anniversary of his living in the Annex. Mother received a plant in honor of the occasion, but Mrs. van Daan, who had alluded to the date for weeks and made no bones about the fact that she thought Dussel should treat us to dinner, received nothing. Instead of making use of the opportunity to thank us—for the first time—for unselfishly taking him in, he didn’t utter a word. And on the morning of the sixteenth, when I asked him whether I should offer him my congratulations or my condolences, he replied that either one would do. Mother, having cast herself in the role of peacemaker, made no headway whatsoever, and the situation finally ended in a draw.

  I can say without exaggeration that Dussel has definitely got a screw loose. We often laugh to ourselves because he has no memory, no fixed opinions and no common sense. He’s amused us more than once by trying to pass on the news he’s just heard, since the message invariably gets garbled in transmission. Furthermore, he answers every reproach or accusation with a load of fine promises, which he never manages to keep.

  “Der Mann hat einen grossen Geist

  Und ist so klein von Taten!”9

  Yours, Anne

  SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  Last night, just as I was falling asleep, Hanneli suddenly appeared before me.

  I saw her there, dressed in rags, her face thin and worn. She looked at me with such sadness and reproach in her enormous eyes that I could read the message in them: “Oh, Anne, why have you deserted me? Help me, help me, rescue me from this hell!”

  And I can’t help her. I can only stand by and watch while other people suffer and die. All
I can do is pray to God to bring her back to us. I saw Hanneli, and no one else, and I understood why. I misjudged her, wasn’t mature enough to understand how difficult it was for her. She was devoted to her girlfriend, and it must have seemed as though I were trying to take her away. The poor thing, she must have felt awful! I know, because I recognize the feeling in myself! I had an occasional flash of understanding, but then got selfishly wrapped up again in my own problems and pleasures.

  It was mean of me to treat her that way, and now she was looking at me, oh so helplessly, with her pale face and beseeching eyes. If only I could help her! Dear God, I have everything I could wish for, while fate has her in its deadly clutches. She was as devout as I am, maybe even more so, and she too wanted to do what was right. But then why have I been chosen to live, while she’s probably going to die? What’s the difference between us? Why are we now so far apart?

  To be honest, I hadn’t thought of her for months—no, for at least a year. I hadn’t forgotten her entirely, and yet it wasn’t until I saw her before me that I thought of all her suffering.

  Oh, Hanneli, I hope that if you live to the end of the war and return to us, I’ll be able to take you in and make up for the wrong I’ve done you.

  But even if I were ever in a position to help, she wouldn’t need it more than she does now. I wonder if she ever thinks of me, and what she’s feeling?

  Merciful God, comfort her, so that at least she won’t be alone. Oh, if only You could tell her I’m thinking of her with compassion and love, it might help her go on.

  I’ve got to stop dwelling on this. It won’t get me anywhere. I keep seeing her enormous eyes, and they haunt me. Does Hanneli really and truly believe in God, or has religion merely been foisted upon her? I don’t even know that. I never took the trouble to ask.

  Hanneli, Hanneli, if only I could take you away, if only I could share everything I have with you. It’s too late. I can’t help, or undo the wrong I’ve done. But I’ll never forget her again and I’ll always pray for her!

  Yours, Anne

  MONDAY, DECEMBER 6, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  The closer it got to St. Nicholas Day, the more we all thought back to last year’s festively decorated basket. More than anyone, I thought it would be terrible to skip a celebration this year. After long deliberation, I finally came up with an idea, something funny. I consulted Pim, and a week ago we set to work writing a verse for each person.

  Sunday evening at a quarter to eight we trooped upstairs carrying the big laundry basket, which had been decorated with cutouts and bows made of pink and blue carbon paper. On top was a large piece of brown wrapping paper with a note attached. Everyone was rather amazed at the sheer size of the gift. I removed the note and read it aloud:

  As each person took their own shoe out of the basket, there was a roar of laughter. Inside each shoe was a little paper package addressed to its owner.

  Yours, Anne

  WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1943

  Dearest Kitty,

  A bad case of flu has prevented me from writing to you until today. Being sick here is dreadful. With every cough, I had to duck under the blanket—once, twice, three times—and try to keep from coughing anymore. Most of the time the tickle refused to go away, so I had to drink milk with honey, sugar or cough drops. I get dizzy just thinking about all the cures I’ve been subjected to: sweating out the fever, steam treatment, wet compresses, dry compresses, hot drinks, swabbing my throat, lying still, heating pad, hot-water bottles, lemonade and, every two hours, the thermometer. Will these remedies really make you better? The worst part was when Mr. Dussel decided to play doctor and lay his pomaded head on my bare chest to listen to the sounds. Not only did his hair tickle, but I was embarrassed, even though he went to school thirty years ago and does have some kind of medical degree. Why should he lay his head on my heart? After all, he’s not my boyfriend! For that matter, he wouldn’t be able to tell a healthy sound from an unhealthy one. He’d have to have his ears cleaned first, since he’s becoming alarmingly hard of hearing. But enough about my illness. I’m fit as a fiddle again. I’ve grown almost half an inch and gained two pounds. I’m pale, but itching to get back to my books.

  Ausnahmsweise10 (the only word that will do here), we’re all getting on well together. No squabbles, though that probably won’t last long. There hasn’t been such peace and quiet in this house for at least six months.

  Bep is still in isolation, but any day now her sister will no longer be contagious.

  For Christmas, we’re getting extra cooking oil, candy and molasses. For Hanukkah, Mr. Dussel gave Mrs. van Daan and Mother a beautiful cake, which he’d asked Miep to bake. On top of all the work she has to do! Margot and I received a brooch made out of a penny, all bright and shiny. I can’t really describe it, but it’s lovely.

  I also have a Christmas present for Miep and Bep. For a whole month I’ve saved up the sugar I put on my hot cereal, and Mr. Kleiman has used it to have fondant made.

  The weather is drizzly and overcast, the stove stinks, and the food lies heavily on our stomachs, producing a variety of rumbles.

  The war is at an impasse, spirits are low.

  Yours, Anne

  FRIDAY, DECEMBER 24, 1943

  Dear Kitty,

  As I’ve written you many times before, moods have a tendency to affect us quite a bit here, and in my case it’s been getting worse lately. “Himmelhoch jauchzend, zu Tode betrübt”11 certainly applies to me. I’m “on top of the world” when I think of how fortunate we are and compare myself to other Jewish children, and “in the depths of despair” when, for example, Mrs. Kleiman comes by and talks about Jopie’s hockey club, canoe trips, school plays and afternoon teas with friends.

  I don’t think I’m jealous of Jopie, but I long to have a really good time for once and to laugh so hard it hurts. We’re stuck in this house like lepers, especially during winter and the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Actually, I shouldn’t even be writing this, since it makes me seem so ungrateful, but I can’t keep everything to myself, so I’ll repeat what I said at the beginning: “Paper is more patient than people.”

  Whenever someone comes in from outside, with the wind in their clothes and the cold on their cheeks, I feel like burying my head under the blankets to keep from thinking, “When will we be allowed to breathe fresh air again?” I can’t do that—on the contrary, I have to hold my head up high and put a bold face on things, but the thoughts keep coming anyway. Not just once, but over and over.

  Believe me, if you’ve been shut up for a year and a half, it can get to be too much for you sometimes. But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem. I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I’m free, and yet I can’t let it show. Just imagine what would happen if all eight of us were to feel sorry for ourselves or walk around with the discontent clearly visible on our faces. Where would that get us? I sometimes wonder if anyone will ever understand what I mean, if anyone will ever overlook my ingratitude and not worry about whether or not I’m Jewish and merely see me as a teenager badly in need of some good plain fun. I don’t know, and I wouldn’t be able to talk about it with anyone, since I’m sure I’d start to cry. Crying can bring relief, as long as you don’t cry alone. Despite all my theories and efforts, I miss—-every day and every hour of the day—having a mother who understands me. That’s why with everything I do and write, I imagine the kind of mom I’d like to be to my children later on. The kind of mom who doesn’t take everything people say too seriously, but who does take me seriously. I find it difficult to describe what I mean, but the word “mom” says it all. Do you know what I’ve come up with? In order to give me the feeling of calling my mother something that sounds like “Mom,” I often call her “Momsy.” Sometimes I shorten it to “Moms”: an imperfect “Mom.” I wish I could honor her by removing the “s.” It’s a good thing she doesn’t realize this, since it would only make
her unhappy.

  Well, that’s enough of that. My writing has raised me somewhat from “the depths of despair.”

  Yours, Anne

  It’s the day after Christmas, and I can’t help thinking about Pim and the story he told me this time last year. I didn’t understand the meaning of his words then as well as I do now. If only he’d bring it up again, I might be able to show him I understood what he meant!

  I think Pim told me because he, who knows the “intimate secrets” of so many others, needed to express his own feelings for once; Pim never talks about himself, and I don’t think Margot has any inkling of what he’s been through. Poor Pim, he can’t fool me into thinking he’s forgotten that girl. He never will. It’s made him very accommodating, since he’s not blind to Mother’s faults. I hope I’m going to be a little like him, without having to go through what he has!

  Anne

  MONDAY, DECEMBER 27, 1943

  Friday evening, for the first time in my life, I received a Christmas present. Mr. Kleiman, Mr. Kugler and the girls had prepared a wonderful surprise for us. Miep made a delicious Christmas cake with “Peace 1944” written on top, and Bep provided a batch of cookies that was up to prewar standards.

  There was a jar of yogurt for Peter, Margot and me, and a bottle of beer for each of the adults. And once again everything was wrapped so nicely, with pretty pictures glued to the packages. For the rest, the holidays passed by quickly for us.

  Anne

  WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 29, 1943

  I was very sad again last night. Grandma and Hanneli came to me once more. Grandma, oh, my sweet Grandma. How little we understood what she suffered, how kind she always was and what an interest she took in everything that concerned us. And to think that all that time she was carefully guarding her terrible secret.12

 
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