The diary of a young gir.., p.23
The Diary of a Young Girl, p.23Anne Frank
Morale among the Dutch can’t be good. Everyone’s hungry; except for the ersatz coffee, a week’s food ration doesn’t last two days. The invasion’s long in coming, the men are being shipped off to Germany, the children are sick or undernourished, everyone’s wearing worn-out clothes and run-down shoes. A new sole costs 7.50 guilders on the black market. Besides, few shoemakers will do repairs, or if they do, you have to wait four months for your shoes, which might very well have disappeared in the meantime.
One good thing has come out of this: as the food gets worse and the decrees more severe, the acts of sabotage against the authorities are increasing. The ration board, the police, the officials—they’re all either helping their fellow citizens or denouncing them and sending them off to prison. Fortunately, only a small percentage of Dutch people are on the wrong side.
FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 1944
Just imagine, it’s still fairly cold, and yet most people have been without coal for nearly a month. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? There’s a general mood of optimism about the Russian front, because that’s going great guns! I don’t often write about the political situation, but I must tell you where the Russians are at the moment. They’ve reached the Polish border and the Prut River in Romania. They’re close to Odessa, and they’ve surrounded Ternopol. Every night we’re expecting an extra communiqué from Stalin.
They’re firing off so many salutes in Moscow, the city must be rumbling and shaking all day long. Whether they like to pretend the fighting’s nearby or they simply don’t have any other way to express their joy, I don’t know!
Hungary has been occupied by German troops. There are still a million Jews living there; they too are doomed.
Nothing special is happening here. Today is Mr. van Daan’s birthday. He received two packets of tobacco, one serving of coffee, which his wife had managed to save, lemon punch from Mr. Kugler, sardines from Miep, eau de cologne from us, lilacs, tulips and, last but not least, a cake with raspberry filling, slightly gluey because of the poor quality of the flour and the lack of butter, but delicious anyway.
All that talk about Peter and me has died down a bit. He’s coming to pick me up tonight. Pretty nice of him, don’t you think, since he hates doing it! We’re very good friends. We spend a lot of time together and talk about every imaginable subject. It’s so nice not having to hold back when we come to a delicate topic, the way I would with other boys. For example, we were talking about blood and somehow the conversation turned to menstruation, etc. He thinks we women are quite tough to be able to withstand the loss of blood, and that I am too. I wonder why?
My life here has gotten better, much better. God has not forsaken me, and He never will.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
SATURDAY, APRIL 1, 1944
My dearest Kitty,
And yet everything is still so difficult. You do know what I mean, don’t you? I long so much for him to kiss me, but that kiss is taking its own sweet time. Does he still think of me as a friend? Don’t I mean anything more?
You and I both know that I’m strong, that I can carry most burdens alone. I’ve never been used to sharing my worries with anyone, and I’ve never clung to a mother, but I’d love to lay my head on his shoulder and just sit there quietly.
I can’t, I simply can’t forget that dream of Peter’s cheek, when everything was so good! Does he have the same longing? Is he just too shy to say he loves me? Why does he want me near him so much? Oh, why doesn’t he say something?
I’ve got to stop, I’ve got to be calm. I’ll try to be strong again, and if I’m patient, the rest will follow. But—and this is the worst part—I seem to be chasing him. I’m always the one who has to go upstairs; he never comes to me. But that’s because of the rooms, and he understands why I object. Oh, I’m sure he understands more than I think.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
MONDAY, APRIL 3, 1944
My dearest Kitty,
Contrary to my usual practice, I’m going to write you a detailed description of the food situation, since it’s become a matter of some difficulty and importance, not only here in the Annex, but in all of Holland, all of Europe and even beyond.
In the twenty-one months we’ve lived here, we’ve been through a good many “food cycles”—you’ll understand what that means in a moment. A “food cycle” is a period in which we have only one particular dish or type of vegetable to eat. For a long time we ate nothing but endive. Endive with sand, endive without sand, endive with mashed potatoes, endive—and—mashed potato casserole. Then it was spinach, followed by kohlrabi, salsify, cucumbers, tomatoes, sauerkraut, etc., etc.
It’s not much fun when you have to eat, say, sauerkraut every day for lunch and dinner, but when you’re hungry enough, you do a lot of things. Now, however, we’re going through the most delightful period so far, because there are no vegetables at all.
Our weekly lunch menu consists of brown beans, split-pea soup, potatoes with dumplings, potato kugel and, by the grace of God, turnip greens or rotten carrots, and then it’s back to brown beans. Because of the bread shortage, we eat potatoes at every meal, starting with breakfast, but then we fry them a little. To make soup we use brown beans, navy beans, potatoes, packages of vegetable soup, packages of chicken soup and packages of bean soup. There are brown beans in everything, including the bread. For dinner we always have potatoes with imitation gravy and—thank goodness we’ve still got it—beet salad. I must tell you about the dumplings. We make them with government-issue flour, water and yeast. They’re so gluey and tough that it feels as if you have rocks in your stomach, but oh well!
The high point is our weekly slice of liverwurst, and the jam on our unbuttered bread. But we’re still alive, and much of the time it still tastes good too!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 1944
My dearest Kitty,
For a long time now I didn’t know why I was bothering to do any schoolwork. The end of the war still seemed so far away, so unreal, like a fairy tale. If the war isn’t over by September, I won’t go back to school, since I don’t want to be two years behind.
Peter filled my days, nothing but Peter, dreams and thoughts until Saturday night, when I felt so utterly miserable; oh, it was awful. I held back my tears when I was with Peter, laughed uproariously with the van Daans as we drank lemon punch and was cheerful and excited, but the minute I was alone I knew I was going to cry my eyes out. I slid to the floor in my nightgown and began by saying my prayers, very fervently. Then I drew my knees to my chest, lay my head on my arms and cried, all huddled up on the bare floor. A loud sob brought me back down to earth, and I choked back my tears, since I didn’t want anyone next door to hear me. Then I tried to pull myself together, saying over and over, “I must, I must, I must …” Stiff from sitting in such an unusual position, I fell back against the side of the bed and kept up my struggle until just before ten-thirty, when I climbed back into bed. It was over!
And now it’s really over. I finally realized that I must do my schoolwork to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want! I know I can write. A few of my stories are good, my descriptions of the Secret Annex are humorous, much of my diary is vivid and alive, but … it remains to be seen whether I really have talent.
“Eva’s Dream” is my best fairy tale, and the odd thing is that I don’t have the faintest idea where it came from. Parts of “Cady’s Life” are also good, but as a whole it’s nothing special. I’m my best and harshest critic. I know what’s good and what isn’t. Unless you write yourself, you can’t know how wonderful it is; I always used to bemoan the fact that I couldn’t draw, but now I’m overjoyed that at least I can write. And if I don’t have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can’t imagine having to live like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about
When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?
I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, because writing allows me to record everything, all my thoughts, ideals and fantasies.
I haven’t worked on “Cady’s Life” for ages. In my mind I’ve worked out exactly what happens next, but the story doesn’t seem to be coming along very well. I might never finish it, and it’ll wind up in the wastepaper basket or the stove. That’s a horrible thought, but then I say to myself, “At the age of fourteen and with so little experience, you can’t write about philosophy.”
So onward and upward, with renewed spirits. It’ll all work out, because I’m determined to write!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
THURSDAY, APRIL 6, 1944
You asked me what my hobbies and interests are and I’d like to answer, but I’d better warn you, I have lots of them, so don’t be surprised.
First of all: writing, but I don’t really think of that as a hobby.
Number two: genealogical charts. I’m looking in every newspaper, book and document I can find for the family trees of the French, German, Spanish, English, Austrian, Russian, Norwegian and Dutch royal families. I’ve made great progress with many of them, because for a long time I’ve been taking notes while reading biographies or history books. I even copy out many of the passages on history.
So my third hobby is history, and Father’s already bought me numerous books. I can hardly wait for the day when I’ll be able to go to the public library and ferret out the information I need.
Number four is Greek and Roman mythology. I have various books on this subject too. I can name the nine Muses and the seven loves of Zeus. I have the wives of Hercules, etc., etc., down pat.
My other hobbies are movie stars and family photographs. I’m crazy about reading and books. I adore the history of the arts, especially when it concerns writers, poets and painters; musicians may come later. I loathe algebra, geometry and arithmetic. I enjoy all my other school subjects, but history’s my favorite!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 1944
My dearest Kitty,
My head’s in a whirl, I really don’t know where to begin. Thursday (the last time I wrote you) everything was as usual. Friday afternoon (Good Friday) we played Monopoly; Saturday afternoon too. The days passed very quickly. Around two o’clock on Saturday, heavy firing began—machine guns, according to the men. For the rest, everything was quiet.
Sunday afternoon Peter came to see me at four-thirty, at my invitation. At five-fifteen we went to the front attic, where we stayed until six. There was a beautiful Mozart concert on the radio from six to seven-fifteen; I especially enjoyed the Kleine Nachtmusik. I can hardly bear to listen in the kitchen, since beautiful music stirs me to the very depths of my soul. Sunday evening Peter couldn’t take his bath, because the washtub was down in the office kitchen, filled with laundry. The two of us went to the front attic together, and in order to be able to sit comfortably, I took along the only cushion I could find in my room. We seated ourselves on a packing crate. Since both the crate and the cushion were very narrow, we were sitting quite close, leaning against two other crates; Mouschi kept us company, so we weren’t without a chaperon. Suddenly, at a quarter to nine, Mr. van Daan whistled and asked if we had Mr. Dussel’s cushion. We jumped up and went downstairs with the cushion, the cat and Mr. van Daan. This cushion was the source of much misery. Dussel was angry because I’d taken the one he uses as a pillow, and he was afraid it might be covered with fleas; he had the entire house in an uproar because of this one cushion. In revenge, Peter and I stuck two hard brushes in his bed, but had to take them out again when Dussel unexpectedly decided to go sit in his room. We had a really good laugh at this little intermezzo.
But our fun was short-lived. At nine-thirty Peter knocked gently on the door and asked Father to come upstairs and help him with a difficult English sentence.
“That sounds fishy,” I said to Margot. “It’s obviously a pretext. You can tell by the way the men are talking that there’s been a break-in!” I was right. The warehouse was being broken into at that very moment. Father, Mr. van Daan and Peter were downstairs in a flash. Margot, Mother, Mrs. van D. and I waited. Four frightened women need to talk, so that’s what we did until we heard a bang downstairs. After that all was quiet. The clock struck quarter to ten. The color had drained from our faces, but we remained calm, even though we were afraid. Where were the men? What was that bang? Were they fighting with the burglars? We were too scared to think; all we could do was wait.
Ten o’clock, footsteps on the stairs. Father, pale and nervous, came inside, followed by Mr. van Daan. “Lights out, tiptoe upstairs, we’re expecting the police!”
There wasn’t time to be scared. The lights were switched off, I grabbed a jacket, and we sat down upstairs.
“What happened? Tell us quickly!”
There was no one to tell us; the men had gone back downstairs. The four of them didn’t come back up until ten past ten. Two of them kept watch at Peter’s open window. The door to the landing was locked, the bookcase shut. We draped a sweater over our night-light, and then they told us what had happened:
Peter was on the landing when he heard two loud bangs. He went downstairs and saw that a large panel was missing from the left half of the warehouse door. He dashed upstairs, alerted the “Home Guard,” and the four of them went downstairs. When they entered the warehouse, the burglars were going about their business. Without thinking, Mr. van Daan yelled “Police!” Hurried footsteps outside; the burglars had fled. The board was put back in the door so the police wouldn’t notice the gap, but then a swift kick from outside sent it flying to the floor. The men were amazed at the burglars’ audacity. Both Peter and Mr. van Daan felt a murderous rage come over them. Mr. van Daan slammed an ax against the floor, and all was quiet again. Once more the panel was replaced, and once more the attempt was foiled. Outside, a man and a woman shone a glaring flashlight through the opening, lighting up the entire warehouse. “What the …” mumbled one of the men, but now their roles had been reversed. Instead of policemen, they were now burglars. All four of them raced upstairs. Dussel and Mr. van Daan snatched up Dussel’s books, Peter opened the doors and windows in the kitchen and private office, hurled the phone to the ground, and the four of them finally ended up behind the bookcase.
END OF PART ONE
In all probability the man and woman with the flashlight had alerted the police. It was Sunday night, Easter Sunday. The next day, Easter Monday, the office was going to be closed, which meant we wouldn’t be able to move around until Tuesday morning. Think of it, having to sit in such terror for a day and two nights! We thought of nothing, but simply sat there in pitch darkness—in her fear, Mrs. van D. had switched off the lamp. We whispered, and every time we heard a creak, someone said, “Shh, shh.”
It was ten-thirty, then eleven. Not a sound. Father and Mr. van Daan took turns coming upstairs to us. Then, at eleven-fifteen, a noise below. Up above you could hear the whole family breathing. For the rest, no one moved a muscle. Footsteps in the house, the private office, the kitchen, then … on the staircase. All sounds of breathing stopped, eight hearts pounded. Footsteps on the stairs, then a rattling at the bookcase. This moment is indescribable.
“Now we’re done for,” I said, and I had visions of all fifteen of us being dragged away by the Gestapo that very night.
More rattling at the bookcase, twice. Then we heard a can fall, and the footsteps receded. We were out of danger, so far! A shiver went though everyone’s body, I heard several sets of teeth chattering, no one said a word. We stayed like this until eleven-thirty.
There were no more sounds in the house, but a light was shining on our landing, right in front of the bookcase. Was that because the police thought it looked so suspicious or because they simply forgot? Was anyone going to come back and turn it off? We found our tongues again. There were no longer any people inside the building, but perhaps someone was standing guard outside. We then did three things: tried to guess what was going on, trembled with fear and went to the bathroom. Since the buckets were in the attic, all we had was Peter’s metal wastepaper basket. Mr. van Daan went first, then Father, but Mother was too embarrassed. Father brought the wastebasket to the next room, where Margot, Mrs. van Daan and I gratefully made use of it. Mother finally gave in. There was a great demand for paper, and luckily I had some in my pocket.
The wastebasket stank, everything went on in a whisper, and we were exhausted. It was midnight.
“Lie down on the floor and go to sleep!” Margot and I were each given a pillow and a blanket. Margot lay down near the food cupboard, and I made my bed between the table legs. The smell wasn’t quite so bad when you were lying on the floor, but Mrs. van Daan quietly went and got some powdered bleach and draped a dish towel over the potty as a further precaution.
Talk, whispers, fear, stench, farting and people continually going to the bathroom; try sleeping through that! By two-thirty, however, I was so tired I dozed off and didn’t hear a thing until three-thirty. I woke up when Mrs. van D. lay her head on my feet.
“For heaven’s sake, give me something to put on!” I said. I was handed some clothes, but don’t ask what: a pair of wool slacks over my pajamas, a red sweater and a black skirt, white under stockings and tattered kneesocks.
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