The diary of a young gir.., p.24
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       The Diary of a Young Girl, p.24

           Anne Frank
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  Mrs. van D. sat back down on the chair, and Mr. van D. lay down with his head on my feet. From three-thirty onward I was engrossed in thought, and still shivering so much that Mr. van Daan couldn’t sleep. I was preparing myself for the return of the police. We’d tell them we were in hiding; if they were good people, we’d be safe, and if they were Nazi sympathizers, we could try to bribe them!

  “We should hide the radio!” moaned Mrs. van D.

  “Sure, in the stove,” answered Mr. van D. “If they find us, they might as well find the radio!”

  “Then they’ll also find Anne’s diary,” added Father.

  “So burn it,” suggested the most terrified of the group.

  This and the police rattling on the bookcase were the moments when I was most afraid. Oh, not my diary; if my diary goes, I go too! Thank goodness Father didn’t say anything more.

  There’s no point in recounting all the conversations; so much was said. I comforted Mrs. van Daan, who was very frightened. We talked about escaping, being interrogated by the Gestapo, phoning Mr. Kleiman and being courageous.

  “We must behave like soldiers, Mrs. van Daan. If our time has come, well then, it’ll be for Queen and Country, for freedom, truth and justice, as they’re always telling us on the radio. The only bad thing is that we’ll drag the others down with us!”

  After an hour Mr. van Daan switched places with his wife again, and Father came and sat beside me. The men smoked one cigarette after another, an occasional sigh was heard, somebody made another trip to the potty, and then everything began all over again.

  Four o’clock, five, five-thirty. I went and sat with Peter by his window and listened, so close we could feel each other’s bodies trembling; we spoke a word or two from time to time and listened intently. Next door they took down the blackout screen. They made a list of everything they were planning to tell Mr. Kleiman over the phone, because they intended to call him at seven and ask him to send someone over. They were taking a big chance, since the police guard at the door or in the warehouse might hear them calling, but there was an even greater risk that the police would return.

  I’m enclosing their list, but for the sake of clarity, I’ll copy it here.

  Burglary: Police in building, up to bookcase, but no farther. Burglars apparently interrupted, forced warehouse door, fled through garden. Main entrance bolted; Kugler must have left through second door.

  Typewriter and adding machine safe in black chest in private office.

  Miep’s or Bep’s laundry in washtub in kitchen.

  Only Bep or Kugler have key to second door; lock may be broken.

  Try to warn Jan and get key, look around office; also feed cat.

  For the rest, everything went according to plan. Mr. Kleiman was phoned, the poles were removed from the doors, the typewriter was put back in the chest. Then we all sat around the table again and waited for either Jan or the police.

  Peter had dropped off to sleep and Mr. van Daan and I were lying on the floor when we heard loud footsteps below. I got up quietly. “It’s Jan!”

  “No, no, it’s the police!” they all said.

  There was a knocking at our bookcase. Miep whistled. This was too much for Mrs. van Daan, who sank limply in her chair, white as a sheet. If the tension had lasted another minute, she would have fainted.

  Jan and Miep came in and were met with a delightful scene. The table alone would have been worth a photograph: a copy of Cinema & Theater, opened to a page of dancing girls and smeared with jam and pectin, which we’d been taking to combat the diarrhea, two jam jars, half a bread roll, a quarter of a bread roll, pectin, a mirror, a comb, matches, ashes, cigarettes, tobacco, an ashtray, books, a pair of underpants, a flashlight, Mrs. van Daan’s comb, toilet paper, etc.

  Jan and Miep were of course greeted with shouts and tears. Jan nailed a pinewood board over the gap in the door and went off again with Miep to inform the police of the break-in. Miep had also found a note under the warehouse door from Sleegers, the night watchman, who had noticed the hole and alerted the police. Jan was also planning to see Sleegers.

  So we had half an hour in which to put the house and ourselves to rights. I’ve never seen such a transformation as in those thirty minutes. Margot and I got the beds ready downstairs, went to the bathroom, brushed our teeth, washed our hands and combed our hair. Then I straightened up the room a bit and went back upstairs. The table had already been cleared, so we got some water, made coffee and tea, boiled the milk and set the table. Father and Peter emptied our improvised potties and rinsed them with warm water and powdered bleach. The largest one was filled to the brim and was so heavy they had a hard time lifting it. To make things worse, it was leaking, so they had to put it in a bucket.

  At eleven o’clock Jan was back and joined us at the table, and gradually everyone began to relax. Jan had the following story to tell:

  Mr. Sleegers was asleep, but his wife told Jan that her husband had discovered the hole in the door while making his rounds. He called in a policeman, and the two of them searched the building. Mr. Sleegers, in his capacity as night watchman, patrols the area every night on his bike, accompanied by his two dogs. His wife said he would come on Tuesday and tell Mr. Kugler the rest. No one at the police station seemed to know anything about the break-in, but they made a note to come first thing Tuesday morning to have a look.

  On the way back Jan happened to run into Mr. van Hoeven, the man who supplies us with potatoes, and told him of the break-in. “I know,” Mr. van Hoeven calmly replied. “Last night when my wife and I were walking past your building, I saw a gap in the door. My wife wanted to walk on, but I peeked inside with a flashlight, and that’s when the burglars must have run off. To be on the safe side, I didn’t call the police. I thought it wouldn’t be wise in your case. I don’t know anything, but I have my suspicions.” Jan thanked him and went on. Mr. van Hoeven obviously suspects we’re here, because he always delivers the potatoes at lunchtime. A decent man!

  It was one o’clock by the time Jan left and we’d done the dishes. All eight of us went to bed. I woke up at quarter to three and saw that Mr. Dussel was already up. My face rumpled with sleep, I happened to run into Peter in the bathroom, just after he’d come downstairs. We agreed to meet in the office. I freshened up a bit and went down.

  “After all this, do you still dare go to the front attic?” he asked. I nodded, grabbed my pillow, with a cloth wrapped around it, and we went up together. The weather was gorgeous, and even though the air-raid sirens soon began to wail, we stayed where we were. Peter put his arm around my shoulder, I put mine around his, and we sat quietly like this until four o’clock, when Margot came to get us for coffee.

  We ate our bread, drank our lemonade and joked (we were finally able to again), and for the rest everything was back to normal. That evening I thanked Peter because he’d been the bravest of us all.

  None of us have ever been in such danger as we were that night. God was truly watching over us. Just think—the police were right at the bookcase, the light was on, and still no one had discovered our hiding place! “Now we’re done for!” I’d whispered at that moment, but once again we were spared. When the invasion comes and the bombs start falling, it’ll be every man for himself, but this time we feared for those good, innocent Christians who are helping us.

  “We’ve been saved, keep on saving us!” That’s all we can say.

  This incident has brought about a whole lot of changes. As of now, Dussel will be doing his work in the bathroom, and Peter will be patrolling the house between eight-thirty and nine-thirty. Peter isn’t allowed to open his window anymore, since one of the Keg people noticed it was open. We can no longer flush the toilet after nine-thirty at night. Mr. Sleegers has been hired as night watchman, and tonight a carpenter from the underground is coming to make a barricade out of our white Frankfurt bedsteads. Debates are going on left and right in the Annex. Mr. Kugler has reproached us for our carelessness. Jan also said we should never
go downstairs. What we have to do now is find out whether Sleegers can be trusted, whether the dogs will bark if they hear someone behind the door, how to make the barricade, all sorts of things.

  We’ve been strongly reminded of the fact that we’re Jews in chains, chained to one spot, without any rights, but with a thousand obligations. We must put our feelings aside; we must be brave and strong, bear discomfort without complaint, do whatever is in our power and trust in God. One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we’ll be people again and not just Jews!

  Who has inflicted this on us? Who has set us apart from all the rest? Who has put us through such suffering? It’s God who has made us the way we are, but it’s also God who will lift us up again. In the eyes of the world, we’re doomed, but if, after all this suffering, there are still Jews left, the Jewish people will be held up as an example. Who knows, maybe our religion will teach the world and all the people in it about goodness, and that’s the reason, the only reason, we have to suffer. We can never be just Dutch, or just English, or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. And we’ll have to keep on being Jews, but then, we’ll want to be.

  Be brave! Let’s remember our duty and perform it without complaint. There will be a way out. God has never deserted our people. Through the ages Jews have had to suffer, but through the ages they’ve gone on living, and the centuries of suffering have only made them stronger. The weak shall fall and the strong shall survive and not be defeated!

  That night I really thought I was going to die. I waited for the police and I was ready for death, like a soldier on a battlefield. I’d gladly have given my life for my country. But now, now that I’ve been spared, my first wish after the war is to become a Dutch citizen. I love the Dutch, I love this country, I love the language, and I want to work here. And even if I have to write to the Queen herself, I won’t give up until I’ve reached my goal!

  I’m becoming more and more independent of my parents. Young as I am, I face life with more courage and have a better and truer sense of justice than Mother. I know what I want, I have a goal, I have opinions, a religion and love. If only I can be myself, I’ll be satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inner strength and a great deal of courage!

  If God lets me live, I’ll achieve more than Mother ever did, I’ll make my voice heard, I’ll go out into the world and work for mankind!

  I now know that courage and happiness are needed first!

  Yours, Anne M. Frank

  FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 1944

  Dear Kitty,

  Everyone here is still very tense. Pim has nearly reached the boiling point; Mrs. van D. is lying in bed with a cold, grumbling; Mr. van D. is growing pale without his cigarettes; Dussel, who’s having to give up many of his comforts, is carping at everyone; etc., etc. We seem to have run out of luck lately. The toilet’s leaking, and the faucet’s stuck. Thanks to our many connections, we’ll soon be able to get these repaired.

  I’m occasionally sentimental, as you know, but from time to time I have reason to be: when Peter and I are sitting close together on a hard wooden crate among the junk and dust, our arms around each other’s shoulders, Peter toying with a lock of my hair; when the birds outside are trilling their songs, when the trees are in bud, when the sun beckons and the sky is so blue—oh, that’s when I wish for so much!

  All I see around me are dissatisfied and grumpy faces, all I hear are sighs and stifled complaints. You’d think our lives had taken a sudden turn for the worse. Honestly, things are only as bad as you make them. Here in the Annex no one even bothers to set a good example. We each have to figure out how to get the better of our own moods!

  Every day you hear, “If only it were all over!”

  I really believe, Kit, that I’m a little nutty today, and I don’t know why. My writing’s all mixed up, I’m jumping from one thing to another, and sometimes I seriously doubt whether anyone will ever be interested in this drivel. They’ll probably call it “The Musings of an Ugly Duckling.” My diaries certainly won’t be of much use to Mr. Bolkestein or Mr. Gerbrandy.22

  Yours, Anne M. Frank

  SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 1944

  Dearest Kitty,

  “There’s just one bad thing after another. When will it all end?” You can sure say that again. Guess what’s happened now? Peter forgot to unbolt the front door. As a result, Mr. Kugler and the warehouse employees couldn’t get in. He went to Keg’s, smashed in our office kitchen window and got in that way. The windows in the Annex were open, and the Keg people saw that too. What must they be thinking? And van Maaren? Mr. Kugler’s furious. We accuse him of not doing anything to reinforce the doors, and then we do a stupid thing like this! Peter’s extremely upset. At the table, Mother said she felt more sorry for Peter than for anyone else, and he nearly began to cry. We’re equally to blame, since we usually ask him every day if he’s unbolted the door, and so does Mr. van Daan. Maybe I can go comfort him later on. I want to help him so much!

  Here are the latest news bulletins about life in the Secret Annex over the last few weeks:

  A week ago, on Saturday, Boche suddenly got sick. He sat quite still and started drooling. Miep immediately picked him up, rolled him in a towel, tucked him in her shopping bag and brought him to the dog-and-cat clinic. Boche had some kind of intestinal problem, so the vet gave him medicine. Peter gave it to him a few times, but Boche soon made himself scarce. I’ll bet he was out courting his sweetheart. But now his nose is swollen and he meows whenever you pick him up—he was probably trying to steal food and somebody smacked him. Mouschi lost her voice for a few days. Just when we decided she had to be taken to the vet too, she started getting better.

  We now leave the attic window open a crack every night. Peter and I often sit up there in the evening.

  Thanks to rubber cement and oil paint, our toilet could quickly be repaired. The broken faucet has been replaced.

  Luckily, Mr. Kleiman is feeling better. He’s going to see a specialist soon. We can only hope he won’t need an operation.

  This month we received eight ration books. Unfortunately, for the next two weeks beans have been substituted for oatmeal or groats. Our latest delicacy is piccalilli. If you’re out of luck, all you get is a jar full of cucumber and mustard sauce.

  Vegetables are hard to come by. There’s only lettuce, lettuce and more lettuce. Our meals consist entirely of potatoes and imitation gravy.

  The Russians are in possession of more than half the Crimea. The British aren’t advancing beyond Cassino. We’ll have to count on the Western Wall. There have been a lot of unbelievably heavy air raids. The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in The Hague was bombed. All Dutch people will be issued new ration registration cards.

  Enough for today.

  Yours, Anne M. Frank

  SUNDAY, APRIL 16, 1944

  My dearest Kitty,

  Remember yesterday’s date, since it was a red-letter day for me. Isn’t it an important day for every girl when she gets her first kiss? Well then, it’s no less important to me. The time Bram kissed me on my right cheek or Mr. Woudstra on my right hand doesn’t count. How did I suddenly come by this kiss? I’ll tell you.

  Last night at eight I was sitting with Peter on his divan and it wasn’t long before he put an arm around me. (Since it was Saturday, he wasn’t wearing his overalls.) “Why don’t we move over a little,” I said, “so I won’t keep bumping my head against the cupboard.”

  He moved so far over he was practically in the corner. I slipped my arm under his and across his back, and he put his arm around my shoulder, so that I was nearly engulfed by him. We’ve sat like this on other occasions, but never so close as we were last night. He held me firmly against him, my left side against his chest; my heart had already begun to beat faster, but there was more to come. He wasn’t satisfied until my head lay on his shoulder, with his on top of mine. I sat up again after about five minutes, but before long he took my head in his hands and put it back next
to his. Oh, it was so wonderful. I could hardly talk, my pleasure was too intense; he caressed my cheek and arm, a bit clumsily, and played with my hair. Most of the time our heads were touching.

  I can’t tell you, Kitty, the feeling that ran through me. I was too happy for words, and I think he was too.

  At nine-thirty we stood up. Peter put on his tennis shoes so he wouldn’t make much noise on his nightly round of the building, and I was standing next to him. How I suddenly made the right movement, I don’t know, but before we went downstairs, he gave me a kiss, through my hair, half on my left cheek and half on my ear. I tore downstairs without looking back, and I long so much for today.

  Sunday morning, just before eleven.

  Yours, Anne M. Frank

  MONDAY, APRIL 17, 1944

  Dearest Kitty,

  Do you think Father and Mother would approve of a girl my age sitting on a divan and kissing a seventeen-and-a-half-year-old boy? I doubt they would, but I have to trust my own judgment in this matter. It’s so peaceful and safe, lying in his arms and dreaming, it’s so thrilling to feel his cheek against mine, it’s so wonderful to know there’s someone waiting for me. But, and there is a but, will Peter want to leave it at that? I haven’t forgotten his promise, but … he is a boy!

  I know I’m starting at a very young age. Not even fifteen and already so independent—that’s a little hard for other people to understand. I’m pretty sure Margot would never kiss a boy unless there was some talk of an engagement or marriage. Neither Peter nor I has any such plans. I’m also sure that Mother never touched a man before she met Father. What would my girlfriends or Jacque say if they knew I’d lain in Peter’s arms with my heart against his chest, my head on his shoulder and his head and face against mine!

 
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