The diary of a young gir.., p.17
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       The Diary of a Young Girl, p.17

           Anne Frank
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Going underground or into hiding has become as routine as the proverbial pipe and slippers that used to await the man of the house after a long day at work. There are many resistance groups, such as Free Netherlands, that forge identity cards, provide financial support to those in hiding, organize hiding places and find work for young Christians who go underground. It’s amazing how much these generous and unselfish people do, risking their own lives to help and save others.

  The best example of this is our own helpers, who have managed to pull us through so far and will hopefully bring us safely to shore, because otherwise they’ll find themselves sharing the fate of those they’re trying to protect. Never have they uttered a single word about the burden we must be, never have they complained that we’re too much trouble. They come upstairs every day and talk to the men about business and politics, to the women about food and wartime difficulties and to the children about books and newspapers. They put on their most cheerful expressions, bring flowers and gifts for birthdays and holidays and are always ready to do what they can. That’s something we should never forget; while others display their heroism in battle or against the Germans, our helpers prove theirs every day by their good spirits and affection.

  The most bizarre stories are making the rounds, yet most of them are really true. For instance, Mr. Kleiman reported this week that a soccer match was held in the province of Gelderland; one team consisted entirely of men who had gone underground, and the other of eleven Military Policemen. In Hilversum, new registration cards were issued. In order for the many people in hiding to get their rations (you have to show this card to obtain your ration book or else pay 60 guilders a book), the registrar asked all those hiding in that district to pick up their cards at a specified hour, when the documents could be collected at a separate table.

  All the same, you have to be careful that stunts like these don’t reach the ears of the Germans.

  Yours, Anne

  SUNDAY, JANUARY 30, 1944

  My dearest Kit,

  Another Sunday has rolled around; I don’t mind them as much as I did in the beginning, but they’re boring enough.

  I still haven’t gone to the warehouse yet, but maybe sometime soon. Last night I went downstairs in the dark, all by myself, after having been there with Father a few nights before. I stood at the top of the stairs while German planes flew back and forth, and I knew I was on my own, that I couldn’t count on others for support. My fear vanished. I looked up at the sky and trusted in God.

  I have an intense need to be alone. Father has noticed I’m not my usual self, but I can’t tell him what’s bothering me. All I want to do is scream “Let me be, leave me alone!”

  Who knows, perhaps the day will come when I’m left alone more than I’d like!

  Anne Frank

  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1944

  Dearest Kitty,

  Invasion fever is mounting daily throughout the country. If you were here, I’m sure you’d be as impressed as I am at the many preparations, though you’d no doubt laugh at all the fuss we’re making. Who knows, it may all be for nothing!

  The papers are full of invasion news and are driving everyone insane with such statements as: “In the event of a British landing in Holland, the Germans will do what they can to defend the country, even flooding it, if necessary.” They’ve published maps of Holland with the potential flood areas marked. Since large portions of Amsterdam were shaded in, our first question was what we should do if the water in the streets rose to above our waists. This tricky question elicited a variety of responses:

  “It’ll be impossible to walk or ride a bike, so we’ll have to wade through the water.”

  “Don’t be silly. We’ll have to try and swim. We’ll all put on our bathing suits and caps and swim underwater as much as we can, so nobody can see we’re Jews.”

  “Oh, baloney! I can just imagine the ladies swimming with the rats biting their legs!” (That was a man, of course; we’ll see who screams loudest!)

  “We won’t even be able to leave the house. The warehouse is so unstable it’ll collapse if there’s a flood.”

  “Listen, everyone, all joking aside, we really ought to try and get a boat.”

  “Why bother? I have a better idea. We can each take a packing crate from the attic and row with a wooden spoon.”

  “I’m going to walk on stilts. I used to be a whiz at it when I was young.”

  “Jan Gies won’t need to. He’ll let his wife ride piggyback, and then Miep will be on stilts.”

  So now you have a rough idea of what’s going on, don’t you, Kit? This lighthearted banter is all very amusing, but reality will prove otherwise. The second question about the invasion was bound to arise: what should we do if the Germans evacuate Amsterdam?

  “Leave the city along with the others. Disguise ourselves as well as we can.”

  “Whatever happens, don’t go outside! The best thing to do is to stay put! The Germans are capable of herding the entire population of Holland into Germany, where they’ll all die.”

  “Of course we’ll stay here. This is the safest place. We’ll try to talk Kleiman and his family into coming here to live with us. We’ll somehow get hold of a bag of wood shavings, so we can sleep on the floor. Let’s ask Miep and Kleiman to bring some blankets, just in case. And we’ll order some extra cereal grains to supplement the sixty-five pounds we already have. Jan can try to find some more beans. At the moment we’ve got about sixty-five pounds of beans and ten pounds of split peas. And don’t forget the fifty cans of vegetables.”

  “What about the rest, Mother? Give us the latest figures.”

  “Ten cans of fish, forty cans of milk, twenty pounds of powdered milk, three bottles of oil, four crocks of butter, four jars of meat, two big jars of strawberries, two jars of raspberries, twenty jars of tomatoes, ten pounds of oatmeal, nine pounds of rice. That’s it.”

  Our provisions are holding out fairly well. All the same, we have to feed the office staff, which means dipping into our stock every week, so it’s not as much as it seems. We have enough coal and firewood, candles too.

  “Let’s all make little moneybags to hide in our clothes so we can take our money with us if we need to leave here.”

  “We can make lists of what to take first in case we have to run for it, and pack our knapsacks in advance.”

  “When the time comes, we’ll put two people on the lookout, one in the loft at the front of the house and one in the back.”

  “Hey, what’s the use of so much food if there isn’t any water, gas or electricity?”

  “We’ll have to cook on the wood stove. Filter the water and boil it. We should clean some big jugs and fill them with water. We can also store water in the three kettles we use for canning, and in the washtub.”

  “Besides, we still have about two hundred and thirty pounds of winter potatoes in the spice storeroom.”

  All day long that’s all I hear. Invasion, invasion, nothing but invasion. Arguments about going hungry, dying, bombs, fire extinguishers, sleeping bags, identity cards, poison gas, etc., etc. Not exactly cheerful.

  A good example of the explicit warnings of the male contingent is the following conversation with Jan:

  Annex: “We’re afraid that when the Germans retreat, they’ll take the entire population with them.”

  Jan: “That’s impossible. They haven’t got enough trains.”

  Annex: “Trains? Do you really think they’d put civilians on trains? Absolutely not. Everyone would have to hoof it.” (Or, as Dussel always says, per pedes apostolorum.)

  Jan: “I can’t believe that. You’re always looking on the dark side. What reason would they have to round up all the civilians and take them along?”

  Annex: “Don’t you remember Goebbels saying that if the Germans have to go, they’ll slam the doors to all the occupied territories behind them?”

  Jan: “They’ve said a lot of things.”

  Annex: “Do you think the Germans are too noble or humane t
o do it? Their reasoning is: if we go under, we’ll drag everyone else down with us.”

  Jan: “You can say what you like, I just don’t believe it.”

  Annex: “It’s always the same old story. No one wants to see the danger until it’s staring them in the face.”

  Jan: “But you don’t know anything for sure. You’re just making an assumption.”

  Annex: “Because we’ve already been through it all ourselves. First in Germany and then here. What do you think’s happening in Russia?”

  Jan: “You shouldn’t include the Jews. I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on in Russia. The British and the Russians are probably exaggerating for propaganda purposes, just like the Germans.”

  Annex: “Absolutely not. The BBC has always told the truth. And even if the news is slightly exaggerated, the facts are bad enough as they are. You can’t deny that millions of peace-loving citizens in Poland and Russia have been murdered or gassed.”

  I’ll spare you the rest of our conversations. I’m very calm and take no notice of all the fuss. I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway. I’ll just let matters take their course and concentrate on studying and hope that everything will be all right in the end.

  Yours, Anne

  TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 194414

  Dear Kitty,

  I can’t tell you how I feel. One minute I’m longing for peace and quiet, and the next for a little fun. We’ve forgotten how to laugh—I mean, laughing so hard you can’t stop.

  This morning I had “the giggles”; you know, the kind we used to have at school. Margot and I were giggling like real teenagers.

  Last night there was another scene with Mother. Margot was tucking her wool blanket around her when suddenly she leapt out of bed and carefully examined the blanket. What do you think she found? A pin! Mother had patched the blanket and forgotten to take it out. Father shook his head meaningfully and made a comment about how careless Mother is. Soon afterward Mother came in from the bathroom, and just to tease her I said, “Du bist doch eine echte Rabenmutter.”15

  Of course, she asked me why I’d said that, and we told her about the pin she’d overlooked. She immediately assumed her haughtiest expression and said, “You’re a fine one to talk. When you’re sewing, the entire floor is covered with pins. And look, you’ve left the manicure set lying around again. You never put that away either!”

  I said I hadn’t used it, and Margot backed me up, since she was the guilty party.

  Mother went on talking about how messy I was until I got fed up and said, rather curtly, “I wasn’t even the one who said you were careless. I’m always getting blamed for other people’s mistakes!”

  Mother fell silent, and less than a minute later I was obliged to kiss her good-night. This incident may not have been very important, but these days everything gets on my nerves.

  As I seem to be going through a period of reflection at the moment and letting my mind range over anything and everything, my thoughts have naturally turned to Father and Mother’s marriage. It has always been presented to me as an ideal marriage. Never a quarrel, no angry faces, perfect harmony, etc., etc.

  I know a few things about Father’s past, and what I don’t know, I’ve made up; I have the impression that Father married Mother because he felt she would be a suitable wife. I have to admit I admire Mother for the way she assumed the role of his wife and has never, as far as I know, complained or been jealous. It can’t be easy for a loving wife to know she’ll never be first in her husband’s affections, and Mother did know that. Father certainly admired Mother’s attitude and thought she had an excellent character. Why marry anyone else? His ideals had been shattered and his youth was over. What kind of marriage has it turned out to be? No quarrels or differences of opinion—but hardly an ideal marriage. Father respects Mother and loves her, but not with the kind of love I envision for a marriage. Father accepts Mother as she is, is often annoyed, but says as little as possible, because he knows the sacrifices Mother has had to make.

  Father doesn’t always ask her opinion—about the business, about other matters, about people, about all kinds of things. He doesn’t tell her everything, because he knows she’s far too emotional, far too critical, and often far too biased. Father’s not in love. He kisses her the way he kisses us. He never holds her up as an example, because he can’t. He looks at her teasingly, or mockingly, but never lovingly. It may be that Mother’s great sacrifice has made her harsh and disagreeable toward those around her, but it’s guaranteed to take her even farther from the path of love, to arouse even less admiration, and one day Father is bound to realize that while, on the outside, she has never demanded his total love, on the inside, she has slowly but surely been crumbling away. She loves him more than anyone, and it’s hard to see this kind of love not being returned.

  So should I actually feel more sympathy for Mother? Should I help her? And Father?—I can’t, I’m always imagining another mother. I just can’t.—How could I? She hasn’t told me anything about herself, and I’ve never asked her to. What do we know of each other’s thoughts? I can’t talk to her, I can’t look lovingly into those cold eyes, I can’t. Not ever!—If she had even one quality an understanding mother is supposed to have, gentleness or friendliness or patience or something, I’d keep trying to get closer to her. But as for loving this insensitive person, this mocking creature—it’s becoming more and more impossible every day!

  Yours, Anne

  SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 1944

  Dearest Kitty,

  The sun is shining, the sky is deep blue, there’s a magnificent breeze, and I’m longing—really longing—for everything: conversation, freedom, friends, being alone. I long … to cry! I feel as if I were about to explode. I know crying would help, but I can’t cry. I’m restless. I walk from one room to another, breathe through the crack in the window frame, feel my heart beating as if to say, “Fulfill my longing at last …”

  I think spring is inside me. I feel spring awakening, I feel it in my entire body and soul. I have to force myself to act normally. I’m in a state of utter confusion, don’t know what to read, what to write, what to do. I only know that I’m longing for something …

  Yours, Anne

  MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1944

  Dearest Kitty,

  A lot has changed for me since Saturday. What’s happened is this: I was longing for something (and still am), but … a small, a very small, part of the problem has been resolved.

  On Sunday morning I noticed, to my great joy (I’ll be honest with you), that Peter kept looking at me. Not in the usual way. I don’t know, I can’t explain it, but I suddenly had the feeling he wasn’t as in love with Margot as I used to think. All day long I tried not to look at him too much, because whenever I did, I caught him looking at me and then—well, it made me feel wonderful inside, and that’s not a feeling I should have too often.

  Sunday evening everyone, except Pim and me, was clustered around the radio, listening to the “Immortal Music of the German Masters.” Dussel kept twisting and turning the knobs, which annoyed Peter, and the others too. After restraining himself for half an hour, Peter asked somewhat irritably if he would stop fiddling with the radio. Dussel replied in his haughtiest tone, “Ich mach’ das schon!”16 Peter got angry and made an insolent remark. Mr. van Daan sided with him, and Dussel had to back down. That was it.

  The reason for the disagreement wasn’t particularly interesting in and of itself, but Peter has apparently taken the matter very much to heart, because this morning, when I was rummaging around in the crate of books in the attic, Peter came up and began telling me what had happened. I didn’t know anything about it, but Peter soon realized he’d found an attentive listener and started warming up to his subject.

  “Well, it’s like this,” he said. “I don’t usually talk much, since I know beforehand I’ll just be tongue-tied. I
start stuttering and blushing and I twist my words around so much I finally have to stop, because I can’t find the right words. That’s what happened yesterday. I meant to say something entirely different, but once I started, I got all mixed up. It’s awful. I used to have a bad habit, and sometimes I wish I still did: whenever I was mad at someone, I’d beat them up instead of arguing with them. I know this method won’t get me anywhere, and that’s why I admire you. You’re never at a loss for words: you say exactly what you want to say and aren’t in the least bit shy.”

  “Oh, you’re wrong about that,” I replied. “Most of what I say comes out very differently from the way I’d planned. Plus I talk too much and too long, and that’s just as bad.”

  “Maybe, but you have the advantage that no one can see you’re embarrassed. You don’t blush or go to pieces.”

  I couldn’t help being secretly amused at his words. However, since I wanted him to go on talking quietly about himself, I hid my laughter, sat down on a cushion on the floor, wrapped my arms around my knees and gazed at him intently.

  I’m glad there’s someone else in this house who flies into the same rages as I do. Peter seemed relieved that he could criticize Dussel without being afraid I’d tell. As for me, I was pleased too, because I sensed a strong feeling of fellowship, which I only remember having had with my girlfriends.

  Yours, Anne

  TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1944

  The minor run-in with Dussel had several repercussions, for which he had only himself to blame. Monday evening Dussel came in to see Mother and told her triumphantly that Peter had asked him that morning if he’d slept well, and then added how sorry he was about what had happened Sunday evening—he hadn’t really meant what he’d said. Dussel assured him he hadn’t taken it to heart. So everything was right as rain again. Mother passed this story on to me, and I was secretly amazed that Peter, who’d been so angry at Dussel, had humbled himself, despite all his assurances to the contrary.

 
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