The diary of a young gir.., p.26
The Diary of a Young Girl, p.26Anne Frank
Yours, Anne M. Frank
WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 1944
First the weekly news! We’re having a vacation from politics. There’s nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, to report. I’m also gradually starting to believe that the invasion will come. After all, they can’t let the Russians do all the dirty work; actually, the Russians aren’t doing anything at the moment either.
Mr. Kleiman comes to the office every morning now. He got a new set of springs for Peter’s divan, so Peter will have to get to work reupholstering it. Not surprisingly, he isn’t at all in the mood. Mr. Kleiman also brought some flea powder for the cats.
Have I told you that our Boche has disappeared? We haven’t seen hide nor hair of her since last Thursday. She’s probably already in cat heaven, while some animal lover has turned her into a tasty dish. Perhaps some girl who can afford it will be wearing a cap made of Boche’s fur. Peter is heartbroken.
For the last two weeks we’ve been eating lunch at eleven-thirty on Saturdays; in the mornings we have to make do with a cup of hot cereal. Starting tomorrow it’ll be like this every day; that saves us a meal. Vegetables are still very hard to come by. This afternoon we had rotten boiled lettuce. Ordinary lettuce, spinach and boiled lettuce, that’s all there is. Add to that rotten potatoes, and you have a meal fit for a king!
I hadn’t had my period for more than two months, but it finally started last Sunday. Despite the mess and bother, I’m glad it hasn’t deserted me.
As you can no doubt imagine, we often say in despair, “What’s the point of the war? Why, oh, why can’t people live together peacefully? Why all this destruction?”
The question is understandable, but up to now no one has come up with a satisfactory answer. Why is England manufacturing bigger and better airplanes and bombs and at the same time churning out new houses for reconstruction? Why are millions spent on the war each day, while not a penny is available for medical science, artists or the poor? Why do people have to starve when mountains of food are rotting away in other parts of the world? Oh, why are people so crazy?
I don’t believe the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man is every bit as guilty; otherwise, people and nations would have rebelled long ago! There’s a destructive urge in people, the urge to rage, murder and kill. And until all of humanity, without exception, undergoes a metamorphosis, wars will continue to be waged, and everything that has been carefully built up, cultivated and grown will be cut down and destroyed, only to start all over again!
I’ve often been down in the dumps, but never desperate. I look upon our life in hiding as an interesting adventure, full of danger and romance, and every privation as an amusing addition to my diary. I’ve made up my mind to lead a different life from other girls, and not to become an ordinary housewife later on. What I’m experiencing here is a good beginning to an interesting life, and that’s the reason—the only reason—why I have to laugh at the humorous side of the most dangerous moments.
I’m young and have many hidden qualities; I’m young and strong and living through a big adventure; I’m right in the middle of it and can’t spend all day complaining because it’s impossible to have any fun! I’m blessed with many things: happiness, a cheerful disposition and strength. Every day I feel myself maturing, I feel liberation drawing near, I feel the beauty of nature and the goodness of the people around me. Every day I think what a fascinating and amusing adventure this is! With all that, why should I despair?
Yours, Anne M. Frank
FRIDAY, MAY 5, 1944
Father’s unhappy with me. After our talk on Sunday he thought I’d stop going upstairs every evening. He won’t have any of that “Knutscherei”24 going on. I can’t stand that word. Talking about it was bad enough—why does he have to make me feel bad too! I’ll have a word with him today. Margot gave me some good advice. Here’s more or less what I’d like to say:
I think you expect an explanation from me, Father, so I’ll give you one. You’re disappointed in me, you expected more restraint from me, you no doubt want me to act the way a fourteen-year-old is supposed to. But that’s where you’re wrong!
Since we’ve been here, from July 1942 until a few weeks ago, I haven’t had an easy time. If only you knew how much I used to cry at night, how unhappy and despondent I was, how lonely I felt, you’d understand my wanting to go upstairs! I’ve now reached the point where I don’t need the support of Mother or anyone else. It didn’t happen overnight. I’ve struggled long and hard and shed many tears to become as independent as I am now. You can laugh and refuse to believe me, but I don’t care. I know I’m an independent person, and I don’t feel I need to account to you for my actions. I’m only telling you this because I don’t want you to think I’m doing things behind your back. But there’s only one person I’m accountable to, and that’s me.
When I was having problems, everyone—and that includes you—closed their eyes and ears and didn’t help me. On the contrary, all I ever got were admonitions not to be so noisy. I was noisy only to keep myself from being miserable all the time. I was overconfident to keep from having to listen to the voice inside me. I’ve been putting on an act for the last year and a half, day in, day out. I’ve never complained or dropped my mask, nothing of the kind, and now … now the battle is over. I’ve won! I’m independent, in both body and mind. I don’t need a mother anymore, and I’ve emerged from the struggle a stronger person.
Now that it’s over, now that I know the battle has been won, I want to go my own way, to follow the path that seems right to me. Don’t think of me as a fourteen-year-old, since all these troubles have made me older; I won’t regret my actions, I’ll behave the way I think I should!
Gentle persuasion won’t keep me from going upstairs. You’ll either have to forbid it, or trust me through thick and thin. Whatever you do, just leave me alone!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
SATURDAY, MAY 6, 1944
Last night before dinner I tucked the letter I’d written into Father’s pocket. According to Margot, he read it and was upset for the rest of the evening. (I was upstairs doing the dishes!) Poor Pim, I might have known what the effect of such an epistle would be. He’s so sensitive! I immediately told Peter not to ask any questions or say anything more. Pim’s said nothing else to me about the matter. Is he going to?
Everything here is more or less back to normal. We can hardly believe what Jan, Mr. Kugler and Mr. Kleiman tell us about the prices and the people on the outside; half a pound of tea costs 350.00 guilders, half a pound of coffee 80.00 guilders, a pound of butter 35.00 guilders, one egg 1.45 guilders. People are paying 14.00 guilders an ounce for Bulgarian tobacco! Everyone’s trading on the black market; every errand boy has something to offer. The delivery boy from the bakery has supplied us with darning thread—90 cents for one measly skein—the milkman can get hold of ration books, an undertaker delivers cheese. Break-ins, murders and thefts are daily occurrences. Even the police and night watchmen are getting in on the act. Everyone wants to put food in their stomachs, and since salaries have been frozen, people have had to resort to swindling. The police have their hands full trying to track down the many girls of fifteen, sixteen, seventeen and older who are reported missing every day.
I want to try to finish my story about Ellen, the fairy. Just for fun, I can give it to Father on his birthday, together with all the copyrights.
See you later! (Actually, that’s not the right phrase. In the German program broadcast from England they always close with “Auf Wiederhören.”25 So I guess I should say, “Until we write again.”)
Yours, Anne M. Frank
SUNDAY MORNING, MAY 7, 1944
Father and I had a long talk yesterday afternoon. I cried my eyes out, and he cried too. Do you know what he said to me, Kitty?
“I’ve received many letters in my lifeti
“Perhaps you didn’t mean it that way, but that’s what you wrote. No, Anne, we have done nothing to deserve such a reproach!”
Oh, I’ve failed miserably. This is the worst thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I used my tears to show off, to make myself seem important so he’d respect me. I’ve certainly had my share of unhappiness, and everything I said about Mother is true. But to accuse Pim, who’s so good and who’s done everything for me—no, that was too cruel for words.
It’s good that somebody has finally cut me down to size, has broken my pride, because I’ve been far too smug. Not everything Mistress Anne does is good! Anyone who deliberately causes such pain to someone they say they love is despicable, the lowest of the low!
What I’m most ashamed of is the way Father has forgiven me; he said he’s going to throw the letter in the stove, and he’s being so nice to me now, as if he were the one who’d done something wrong. Well, Anne, you still have a lot to learn. It’s time you made a beginning, instead of looking down at other people and always blaming them!
I’ve known a lot of sorrow, but who hasn’t at my age? I’ve been putting on an act, but was hardly even aware of it. I’ve felt lonely, but never desperate! Not like Father, who once ran out into the street with a knife so he could put an end to it all. I’ve never gone that far.
I should be deeply ashamed of myself, and I am. What’s done can’t be undone, but at least you can keep it from happening again. I’d like to start all over, and that shouldn’t be difficult, now that I have Peter. With him supporting me, I know I can do it! I’m not alone anymore. He loves me, I love him, I have my books, my writing and my diary. I’m not all that ugly, or that stupid, I have a sunny disposition, and I want to develop a good character!
Yes, Anne, you knew full well that your letter was unkind and untrue, but you were actually proud of it! I’ll take Father as my example once again, and I will improve myself.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
MONDAY, MAY 8, 1944
Have I ever told you anything about our family? I don’t think I have, so let me begin. Father was born in Frankfurt am Main to very wealthy parents: Michael Frank owned a bank and became a millionaire, and Alice Stern’s parents were prominent and well-to-do. Michael Frank didn’t start out rich; he was a self-made man. In his youth Father led the life of a rich man’s son. Parties every week, balls, banquets, beautiful girls, waltzing, dinners, a huge house, etc. After Grandpa died, most of the money was lost, and after the Great War and inflation there was nothing left at all. Up until the war there were still quite a few rich relatives. So Father was extremely well-bred, and he had to laugh yesterday because for the first time in his fifty-five years, he scraped out the frying pan at the table.
Mother’s family wasn’t as wealthy, but still fairly well-off, and we’ve listened openmouthed to stories of private balls, dinners and engagement parties with 250 guests.
We’re far from rich now, but I’ve pinned all my hopes on after the war. I can assure you, I’m not so set on a bourgeois life as Mother and Margot. I’d like to spend a year in Paris and London learning the languages and studying art history. Compare that with Margot, who wants to nurse newborns in Palestine. I still have visions of gorgeous dresses and fascinating people. As I’ve told you many times before, I want to see the world and do all kinds of exciting things, and a little money won’t hurt!
This morning Miep told us about her cousin’s engagement party, which she went to on Saturday. The cousin’s parents are rich, and the groom’s are even richer. Miep made our mouths water telling us about the food that was served: vegetable soup with meatballs, cheese, rolls with sliced meat, hors d’oeuvres made with eggs and roast beef, rolls with cheese, genoise, wine and cigarettes, and you could eat as much as you wanted.
Miep drank ten schnapps and smoked three cigarettes—could this be our temperance advocate? If Miep drank all those, I wonder how many her spouse managed to toss down? Everyone at the party was a little tipsy, of course. There were also two officers from the Homicide Squad, who took photographs of the wedding couple. You can see we’re never far from Miep’s thoughts, since she promptly noted their names and addresses in case anything should happen and we needed contacts with good Dutch people.
Our mouths were watering so much. We, who’d had nothing but two spoonfuls of hot cereal for breakfast and were absolutely famished; we, who get nothing but half-cooked spinach (for the vitamins!) and rotten potatoes day after day; we, who fill our empty stomachs with nothing but boiled lettuce, raw lettuce, spinach, spinach and more spinach. Maybe we’ll end up being as strong as Popeye, though up to now I’ve seen no sign of it!
If Miep had taken us along to the party, there wouldn’t have been any rolls left over for the other guests. If we’d been there, we’d have snatched up everything in sight, including the furniture. I tell you, we were practically pulling the words right out of her mouth. We were gathered around her as if we’d never in all our lives heard of delicious food or elegant people! And these are the granddaughters of the distinguished millionaire. The world is a crazy place!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
TUESDAY, MAY 9, 1944
I’ve finished my story about Ellen, the fairy. I’ve copied it out on nice notepaper, decorated it with red ink and sewn the pages together. The whole thing looks quite pretty, but I don’t know if it’s enough of a birthday present. Margot and Mother have both written poems.
Mr. Kugler came upstairs this afternoon with the news that starting Monday, Mrs. Broks would like to spend two hours in the office every afternoon. Just imagine! The office staff won’t be able to come upstairs, the potatoes can’t be delivered, Bep won’t get her dinner, we can’t go to the bathroom, we won’t be able to move and all sorts of other inconveniences! We proposed a variety of ways to get rid of her. Mr. van Daan thought a good laxative in her coffee might do the trick. “No,” Mr. Kleiman answered, “please don’t, or we’ll never get her off the can!”
A roar of laughter. “The can?” Mrs. van D. asked. “What does that mean?” An explanation was given. “Is it all right to use that word?” she asked in perfect innocence.
“Just imagine,” Bep giggled, “there you are shopping at The Bijenkorf and you ask the way to the can. They wouldn’t even know what you were talking about!”
Dussel now sits on the “can,” to borrow the expression, every day at twelve-thirty on the dot. This afternoon 1 boldly took a piece of pink paper and wrote:
Mr. Dussel’s Toilet Timetable
Mornings from 7:15 to 7:30 A.M.
Afternoons after 1 P.M.
Otherwise, only as needed!
I tacked this to the green bathroom door while he was still inside. I might well have added “Transgressors will be subject to confinement!” Because our bathroom can be locked from both the inside and the outside.
Mr. van Daan’s latest joke:
After a Bible lesson about Adam and Eve, a thirteen-year-old boy asked his father, “Tell me, Father, how did I get born?”
“Well,” the father replied, “the stork plucked you out of the ocean, set you down in Mother’s bed and bit her in the leg, hard. It bled so much she had to stay in bed for a week.”
Not fully satisfied, the boy went to his mother. “Tell me, Mother,” he asked, “how did you get born and how did I get born?”
His mother told him the very same story. Finally, hoping to hear the fine points, he went to his grandfather. “Tell me, Grandfather,” he said, “how did you get born and how did your daughter get born?” And for the third time he was told exactly the same story.
I still have work to do; it’s already three o’clock.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
PS. Since I think I’ve mentioned the new cleaning lady, I just want to note that she’s married, sixty years old and hard of hearing! Very convenient, in view of all the noise that eight people in hiding are capable of making.
Oh, Kit, it’s such lovely weather. If only I could go outside!
WEDNESDAY, MAY 10, 1944
We were sitting in the attic yesterday afternoon working on our French when suddenly I heard the splatter of water behind me. I asked Peter what it might be. Without pausing to reply, he dashed up to the loft—the scene of the disaster—and shoved Mouschi, who was squatting beside her soggy litter box, back to the right place. This was followed by shouts and squeals, and then Mouschi, who by that time had finished peeing, took off downstairs. In search of something similar to her box, Mouschi had found herself a pile of wood shavings, right over a crack in the floor. The puddle immediately trickled down to the attic and, as luck would have it, landed in and next to the potato barrel. The ceiling was dripping, and since the attic floor has also got its share of cracks, little yellow drops were leaking through the ceiling and onto the dining table, between a pile of stockings and books.
I was doubled up with laughter, it was such a funny sight. There was Mouschi crouched under a chair, Peter armed with water, powdered bleach and a cloth, and Mr. van Daan trying to calm everyone down. The room was soon set to rights, but it’s a well-known fact that cat puddles stink to high heaven. The potatoes proved that all too well, as did the wood shavings, which Father collected in a bucket and brought downstairs to burn.
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