The diary of a young gir.., p.29
The Diary of a Young Girl, p.29Anne Frank
Yours, Anne M. Frank
TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 1944
Another birthday has gone by, so I’m now fifteen. I received quite a few gifts: Springer’s five-volume art history book, a set of underwear, two belts, a handkerchief, two jars of yogurt, a jar of jam, two honey cookies (small), a botany book from Father and Mother, a gold bracelet from Margot, a sticker album from the van Daans, Biomalt and sweet peas from Dussel, candy from Miep, candy and notebooks from Bep, and the high point: the book Maria Theresa and three slices of full-cream cheese from Mr. Kugler. Peter gave me a lovely bouquet of peonies; the poor boy had put a lot of effort into finding a present, but nothing quite worked out.
The invasion is still going splendidly, in spite of the miserable weather—pouring rains, gale winds and high seas.
Yesterday Churchill, Smuts, Eisenhower and Arnold visited the French villages that the British have captured and liberated. Churchill was on a torpedo boat that shelled the coast. Like many men, he doesn’t seem to know what fear is—an enviable trait!
From our position here in Fort Annex, it’s difficult to gauge the mood of the Dutch. No doubt many people are glad the idle (!) British have finally rolled up their sleeves and gotten down to work. Those who keep claiming they don’t want to be occupied by the British don’t realize how unfair they’re being. Their line of reasoning boils down to this: England must fight, struggle and sacrifice its sons to liberate Holland and the other occupied countries. After that the British shouldn’t remain in Holland: they should offer their most abject apologies to all the occupied countries, restore the Dutch East Indies to its rightful owner and then return, weakened and impoverished, to England. What a bunch of idiots. And yet, as I’ve already said, many Dutch people can be counted among their ranks. What would have become of Holland and its neighbors if England had signed a peace treaty with Germany, as it’s had ample opportunity to do? Holland would have become German, and that would have been the end of that!
All those Dutch people who still look down on the British, scoff at England and its government of aging lords, call the English cowards, yet hate the Germans, should be given a good shaking, the way you’d plump up a pillow. Maybe that would straighten out their jumbled brains!
Wishes, thoughts, accusations and reproaches are swirling around in my head. I’m not really as conceited as many people think; I know my various faults and shortcomings better than anyone else, but there’s one difference: I also know that I want to change, will change and already have changed greatly!
Why is it, I often ask myself, that everyone still thinks I’m so pushy and such a know-it-all? Am I really so arrogant? Am I the one who’s so arrogant, or are they? It sounds crazy, I know, but I’m not going to cross out that last sentence, because it’s not as crazy as it seems. Mrs. van Daan and Dussel, my two chief accusers, are known to be totally unintelligent and, not to put too fine a point on it, just plain “stupid”! Stupid people usually can’t bear it when others do something better than they do; the best examples of this are those two dummies, Mrs. van Daan and Dussel. Mrs. van D. thinks I’m stupid because I don’t suffer so much from this ailment as she does, she thinks I’m pushy because she’s even pushier, she thinks my dresses are too short because hers are even shorter, and she thinks I’m such a know-it-all because she talks twice as much as I do about topics she knows nothing about. The same goes for Dussel. But one of my favorite sayings is “Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” and I readily admit I’m a know-it-all.
What’s so difficult about my personality is that I scold and curse myself much more than anyone else does; if Mother adds her advice, the pile of sermons becomes so thick that I despair of ever getting through them. Then I talk back and start contradicting everyone until the old familiar Anne refrain inevitably crops up again: “No one understands me!”
This phrase is part of me, and as unlikely as it may seem, there’s a kernel of truth in it. Sometimes I’m so deeply buried under self-reproaches that I long for a word of comfort to help me dig myself out again. If only I had someone who took my feelings seriously. Alas, I haven’t yet found that person, so the search must go on.
I know you’re wondering about Peter, aren’t you, Kit? It’s true, Peter loves me, not as a girlfriend, but as a friend. His affection grows day by day, but some mysterious force is holding us back, and I don’t know what it is.
Sometimes I think my terrible longing for him was overexaggerated. But that’s not true, because if I’m unable to go to his room for a day or two, I long for him as desperately as I ever did. Peter is kind and good, and yet I can’t deny that he’s disappointed me in many ways. I especially don’t care for his dislike of religion, his talk of food and various things of that nature. Still, I’m firmly convinced that we’ll stick to our agreement never to quarrel. Peter is peace-loving, tolerant and extremely easygoing. He lets me say a lot of things to him that he’d never accept from his mother. He’s making a determined effort to remove the blots from his copybook and keep his affairs in order. Yet why does he hide his innermost self and never allow me access? Of course, he’s much more closed than I am, but I know from experience (even though I’m constantly being accused of knowing all there is to know in theory, but not in practice) that in time, even the most uncommunicative types will long as much, or even more, for someone to confide in.
Peter and I have both spent our contemplative years in the Annex. We often discuss the future, the past and the present, but as I’ve already told you, I miss the real thing, and yet I know it exists!
Is it because I haven’t been outdoors for so long that I’ve become so smitten with nature? I remember a time when a magnificent blue sky, chirping birds, moonlight and budding blossoms wouldn’t have captivated me. Things have changed since I came here. One night during the Pentecost holiday, for instance, when it was so hot, I struggled to keep my eyes open until eleven-thirty so I could get a good look at the moon, all on my own for once. Alas, my sacrifice was in vain, since there was too much glare and I couldn’t risk opening a window. Another time, several months ago, I happened to be upstairs one night when the window was open. I didn’t go back down until it had to be closed again. The dark, rainy evening, the wind, the racing clouds, had me spellbound; it was the first time in a year and a half that I’d seen the night face-to-face. After that evening my longing to see it again was even greater than my fear of burglars, a dark rat-infested house or police raids. I went downstairs all by myself and looked out the windows in the kitchen and private office. Many people think nature is beautiful, many people sleep from time to time under the starry sky, and many people in hospitals and prisons long for the day when they’ll be free to enjoy what nature has to offer. But few are as isolated and cut off as we are from the joys of nature, which can be shared by rich and poor alike.
It’s not just my imagination—looking at the sky, the clouds, the moon and the stars really does make me feel calm and hopeful. It’s much better medicine than valerian or bromide. Nature makes me feel humble and ready to face every blow with courage!
As luck would have it, I’m only able—except for a few rare occasions—to view nature through dusty curtains tacked over dirt-caked windows; it takes the pleasure out of looking. Nature is the one thing for which there is no substitute!
One of the many questions that have often bothered me is why women have been, and still are, thought to be so inferior to men. It’s easy to say it’s unfair, but that’s not enough for me; I’d really like to know the reason for this great injustice!
Men presumably dominated women from the very beginning because of their greater physical strength; it’s men who earn a living, beget children and do as they please … Until recently, women silently went along with this, which was stupid, since the longer it’s kept up, the more deeply entrenched it becomes. Fortunately, education, work and progress have opened women’s eyes. In many countries they’ve been granted equal rights; many people, mainly women, bu
But that’s not all. Women should be respected as well! Generally speaking, men are held in great esteem in all parts of the world, so why shouldn’t women have their share? Soldiers and war heroes are honored and commemorated, explorers are granted immortal fame, martyrs are revered, but how many people look upon women too as soldiers?
In the book Men Against Death I was greatly struck by the fact that in childbirth alone, women commonly suffer more pain, illness and misery than any war hero ever does. And what’s her reward for enduring all that pain? She gets pushed aside when she’s disfigured by birth, her children soon leave, her beauty is gone. Women, who struggle and suffer pain to ensure the continuation of the human race, make much tougher and more courageous soldiers than all those big-mouthed freedom-fighting heroes put together!
I don’t mean to imply that women should stop having children; on the contrary, nature intended them to, and that’s the way it should be. What I condemn are our system of values and the men who don’t acknowledge how great, difficult, but ultimately beautiful women’s share in society is.
I agree completely with Paul de Kruif, the author of this book, when he says that men must learn that birth is no longer thought of as inevitable and unavoidable in those parts of the world we consider civilized. It’s easy for men to talk—they don’t and never will have to bear the woes that women do!
I believe that in the course of the next century the notion that it’s a woman’s duty to have children will change and make way for the respect and admiration of all women, who bear their burdens without complaint or a lot of pompous words!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 1944
New problems: Mrs. van D. is at her wits’ end. She’s talking about getting shot, being thrown in prison, being hanged and suicide. She’s jealous that Peter confides in me and not in her, offended that Dussel doesn’t respond sufficiently to her flirtations and afraid her husband’s going to squander all the fur-coat money on tobacco. She quarrels, curses, cries, feels sorry for herself, laughs and starts all over again.
What on earth can you do with such a silly, sniveling specimen of humanity? Nobody takes her seriously, she has no strength of character, she complains to one and all, and you should see how she walks around: von hinten Lyzeum, von vorne Museum.29 Even worse, Peter’s becoming insolent, Mr. van Daan irritable and Mother cynical. Yes, everyone’s in quite a state! There’s only one rule you need to remember: laugh at everything and forget everybody else! It sounds egotistical, but it’s actually the only cure for those suffering from self-pity.
Mr. Kugler’s supposed to spend four weeks in Alkmaar on a work detail. He’s trying to get out of it with a doctor’s certificate and a letter from Opekta. Mr. Kleiman’s hoping his stomach will be operated on soon. Starting at eleven last night, all private phones were cut off.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 1944
Nothing special going on here. The British have begun their all-out attack on Cherbourg. According to Pim and Mr. van Daan, we’re sure to be liberated before October 10. The Russians are taking part in the campaign; yesterday they started their offensive near Vitebsk, exactly three years to the day that the Germans invaded Russia.
Bep’s spirits have sunk lower than ever. We’re nearly out of potatoes; from now on, we’re going to count them out for each person, then everyone can do what they want with them. Starting Monday, Miep’s taking a week of vacation. Mr. Kleiman’s doctors haven’t found anything on the X rays. He’s torn between having an operation and letting matters take their course.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 1944
My dearest Kitty,
The mood has changed, everything’s going enormously well. Cherbourg, Vitebsk and Zhlobin fell today. They’re sure to have captured lots of men and equipment. Five German generals were killed near Cherbourg and two taken captive. Now that they’ve got a harbor, the British can bring whatever they want on shore. The whole Cotentin Peninsula has been captured just three weeks after the invasion! What a feat!
In the three weeks since D Day there hasn’t been a day without rain and storms, neither here nor in France, but this bad luck hasn’t kept the British and the Americans from displaying their might. And how! Of course, the Germans have launched their wonder weapon, but a little firecracker like that won’t hardly make a dent, except maybe minor damage in England and screaming headlines in the Kraut newspapers. Anyway, when they realize in “Krautland” that the Bolsheviks really are getting closer, they’ll be shaking in their boots.
All German women who aren’t working for the military are being evacuated, together with their children, from the coastal regions to the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Gelderland. Mussert30 has announced that if the invasion reaches Holland, he’ll enlist. Is that fat pig planning to fight? He could have done that in Russia long before now. Finland turned down a peace offer some time ago, and now the negotiations have been broken off again. Those numbskulls, they’ll be sorry!
How far do you think we’ll be on July 27?
Yours, Anne M. Frank
FRIDAY, JUNE 30, 1944
Bad weather from one at a stretch to the thirty June.31 Don’t I say that well? Oh yes, I already know a little English; just to prove it I’m reading An Ideal Husband with the help of a dictionary! War’s going wonderfully: Bobruysk, Mogilev and Orsha have fallen, lots of prisoners.
Everything’s all right here. Spirits are improving, our superoptimists are triumphant, the van Daans are doing disappearing acts with the sugar, Bep’s changed her hair, and Miep has a week off. That’s the latest news!
I’ve been having really ghastly root-canal work done on one of my front teeth. It’s been terribly painful. It was so bad Dussel thought I was going to faint, and I nearly did. Mrs. van D. promptly got a toothache as well!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
PS. We’ve heard from Basel that Bernd32 played the part of the innkeeper in Minna von Barnhelm. He has “artistic leanings,” says Mother.
THURSDAY, JULY 6, 1944
My blood runs cold when Peter talks about becoming a criminal or a speculator; of course, he’s joking, but I still have the feeling he’s afraid of his own weakness. Margot and Peter are always saying to me, “If I had your spunk and your strength, if I had your drive and unflagging energy, I could …!”
Is it really such an admirable trait not to let myself be influenced by others? Am I right in following my own conscience?
To be honest, I can’t imagine how anyone could say “I’m weak” and then stay that way. If you know that about yourself, why not fight it, why not develop your character? Their answer has always been: “Because it’s much easier not to!” This reply leaves me feeling rather discouraged. Easy? Does that mean a life of deceit and laziness is easy too? Oh no, that can’t be true. It can’t be true that people are so readily tempted by ease … and money. I’ve given a lot of thought to what my answer should be, to how I should get Peter to believe in himself and, most of all, to change himself for the better. I don’t know whether I’m on the right track.
I’ve often imagined how nice it would be if someone were to confide everything to me. But now that it’s reached that point, I realize how difficult it is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and find the right answer. Especially since “easy” and “money” are new and completely alien concepts to me.
Peter’s beginning to lean on me and I don’t want that, not under any circumstances. It’s hard enough standing on your own two feet, but when you also have to remain true to your character and soul, it’s harder still.
I’ve been drifting around at sea, have spent days searching for an effective antidote to that ter
We’re all alive, but we don’t know why or what for; we’re all searching for happiness; we’re all leading lives that are different and yet the same. We three have been raised in good families, we have the opportunity to get an education and make something of ourselves. We have many reasons to hope for great happiness, but … we have to earn it. And that’s something you can’t achieve by taking the easy way out. Earning happiness means doing good and working, not speculating and being lazy. Laziness may look inviting, but only work gives you true satisfaction.
I can’t understand people who don’t like to work, but that isn’t Peter’s problem either. He just doesn’t have a goal, plus he thinks he’s too stupid and inferior to ever achieve anything. Poor boy, he’s never known how it feels to make someone else happy, and I’m afraid I can’t teach him. He isn’t religious, scoffs at Jesus Christ and takes the Lord’s name in vain, and though I’m not Orthodox either, it hurts me every time to see him so lonely, so scornful, so wretched.
People who are religious should be glad, since not everyone is blessed with the ability to believe in a higher order. You don’t even have to live in fear of eternal punishment; the concepts of purgatory, heaven and hell are difficult for many people to accept, yet religion itself, any religion, keeps a person on the right path. Not the fear of God, but upholding your own sense of honor and obeying your own conscience. How noble and good everyone could be if, at the end of each day, they were to review their own behavior and weigh up the rights and wrongs. They would automatically try to do better at the start of each new day and, after a while, would certainly accomplish a great deal. Everyone is welcome to this prescription; it costs nothing and is definitely useful. Those who don’t know will have to find out by experience that “a quiet conscience gives you strength!”
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