After May 1940 the good times were few and far between: first there was the war, then the capitulation and then the arrival of the Germans, which is when the trouble started for the Jews. Our freedom was severely restricted by a series of anti-Jewish decrees: Jews were required to wear a yellow star; Jews were required to turn in their bicycles; Jews were forbidden to use streetcars; Jews were forbidden to ride in cars, even their own; Jews were required to do their shopping between 3 and 5 P.M.; Jews were required to frequent only Jewish-owned barbershops and beauty parlors; Jews were forbidden to be out on the streets between 8 P.M. and 6 A.M.; Jews were forbidden to go to theaters, movies or any other forms of entertainment; Jews were forbidden to use swimming pools, tennis courts, hockey fields or any other athletic fields; Jews were forbidden to go rowing; Jews were forbidden to take part in any athletic activity in public; Jews were forbidden to sit in their gardens or those of their friends after 8 P.M.; Jews were forbidden to visit Christians in their homes; Jews were required to attend Jewish schools, etc. You couldn’t do this and you couldn’t do that, but life went on. Jacque always said to me, “I don’t dare do anything anymore, ’cause I’m afraid it’s not allowed.”
In the summer of 1941 Grandma got sick and had to have an operation, so my birthday passed with little celebration. In the summer of 1940 we didn’t do much for my birthday either, since the fighting had just ended in Holland. Grandma died in January 1942. No one knows how often I think of her and still love her. This birthday celebration in 1942 was intended to make up for the others, and Grandma’s candle was lit along with the rest.
The four of us are still doing well, and that brings me to the present date of June 20, 1942, and the solemn dedication of my diary.
SATURDAY, JUNE 20, 1942
Let me get started right away; it’s nice and quiet now. Father and Mother are out and Margot has gone to play Ping-Pong with some other young people at her friend Trees’s. I’ve been playing a lot of Ping-Pong myself lately. So much that five of us girls have formed a club. It’s called “The Little Dipper Minus Two.” A really silly name, but it’s based on a mistake. We wanted to give our club a special name; and because there were five of us, we came up with the idea of the Little Dipper. We thought it consisted of five stars, but we turned out to be wrong. It has seven, like the Big Dipper, which explains the “Minus Two.” Ilse Wagner has a Ping-Pong set, and the Wagners let us play in their big dining room whenever we want. Since we five Ping-Pong players like ice cream, especially in the summer, and since you get hot playing Ping-Pong, our games usually end with a visit to the nearest icecream parlor that allows Jews: either Oasis or Delphi. We’ve long since stopped hunting around for our purses or money—most of the time it’s so busy in Oasis that we manage to find a few generous young men of our acquaintance or an admirer to offer us more ice cream than we could eat in a week.
You’re probably a little surprised to hear me talking about admirers at such a tender age. Unfortunately, or not, as the case may be, this vice seems to be rampant at our school. As soon as a boy asks if he can bicycle home with me and we get to talking, nine times out of ten I can be sure he’ll become enamored on the spot and won’t let me out of his sight for a second. His ardor eventually cools, especially since I ignore his passionate glances and pedal blithely on my way. If it gets so bad that they start rambling on about “asking Father’s permission,” I swerve slightly on my bike, my schoolbag falls, and the young man feels obliged to get off his bike and hand it to me, by which time I’ve switched the conversation to another topic. These are the most innocent types. Of course, there are those who blow you kisses or try to take hold of your arm, but they’re definitely knocking on the wrong door. I get off my bike and either refuse to make further use of their company or act as if I’m insulted and tell them in no uncertain terms to go on home without me.
There you are. We’ve now laid the basis for our friendship. Until tomorrow.
SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 1942
Our entire class is quaking in its boots. The reason, of course, is the upcoming meeting in which the teachers decide who’ll be promoted to the next grade and who’ll be kept back. Half the class is making bets. G.Z. and I laugh ourselves sick at the two boys behind us, C.N. and Jacques Kocernoot, who have staked their entire vacation savings on their bet. From morning to night, it’s “You’re going to pass,” “No, I’m not,” “Yes, you are,” “No, I’m not.” Even G.’s pleading glances and my angry outbursts can’t calm them down. If you ask me, there are so many dummies that about a quarter of the class should be kept back, but teachers are the most unpredictable creatures on earth. Maybe this time they’ll be unpredictable in the right direction for a change.
I’m not so worried about my girlfriends and myself. We’ll make it. The only subject I’m not sure about is math. Anyway, all we can do is wait. Until then, we keep telling each other not to lose heart.
I get along pretty well with all my teachers. There are nine of them, seven men and two women. Mr. Keesing, the old fogey who teaches math, was mad at me for the longest time because I talked so much. After several warnings, he assigned me extra homework. An essay on the subject “A Chatterbox.” A chatterbox, what can you write about that? I’d worry about that later, I decided. I jotted down the assignment in my notebook, tucked it in my bag and tried to keep quiet.
That evening, after I’d finished the rest of my homework, the note about the essay caught my eye. I began thinking about the subject while chewing the tip of my fountain pen. Anyone could ramble on and leave big spaces between the words, but the trick was to come up with convincing arguments to prove the necessity of talking. I thought and thought, and suddenly I had an idea. I wrote the three pages Mr. Keesing had assigned me and was satisfied. I argued that talking is a female trait and that I would do my best to keep it under control, but that I would never be able to break myself of the habit, since my mother talked as much as I did, if not more, and that there’s not much you can do about inherited traits.
Mr. Keesing had a good laugh at my arguments, but when I proceeded to talk my way through the next class, he assigned me a second essay. This time it was supposed to be on “An Incorrigible Chatterbox.” I handed it in, and Mr. Keesing had nothing to complain about for two whole classes. However, during the third class he’d finally had enough. “Anne Frank, as punishment for talking in class, write an essay entitled ‘“Quack, Quack, Quack,” Said Mistress Chatterback.’”
The class roared. I had to laugh too, though I’d nearly exhausted my ingenuity on the topic of chatterboxes. It was time to come up with something else, something original. My friend Sanne, who’s good at poetry, offered to help me write the essay from beginning to end in verse. I jumped for joy. Keesing was trying to play a joke on me with this ridiculous subject, but I’d make sure the joke was on him.
I finished my poem, and it was beautiful! It was about a mother duck and a father swan with three baby ducklings who were bitten to death by the father because they quacked too much. Luckily, Keesing took the joke the right way. He read the poem to the class, adding his own comments, and to several other classes as well. Since then I’ve been allowed to talk and haven’t been assigned any extra homework. On the contrary, Keesing’s always making jokes these days.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 1942
It’s sweltering. Everyone is huffing and puffing, and in this heat I have to walk everywhere. Only now do I realize how pleasant a streetcar is, but we Jews are no longer allowed to make use of this luxury; our own two feet are good enough for us. Yesterday at lunchtime I had an appointment with the dentist on Jan Luykenstraat. It’s a long way from our school on Stadstimmertuinen. That afternoon I nearly fell asleep at my desk. Fortunately, people automatically offer you something to drink. The dental assistant is really kind.
The only mode of transportation le
ft to us is the ferry. The ferryman at Josef Israëlkade took us across when we asked him to. It’s not the fault of the Dutch that we Jews are having such a bad time.
I wish I didn’t have to go to school. My bike was stolen during Easter vacation, and Father gave Mother’s bike to some Christian friends for safekeeping. Thank goodness summer vacation is almost here; one more week and our torment will be over.
Something unexpected happened yesterday morning. As I was passing the bicycle racks, I heard my name being called. I turned around and there was the nice boy I’d met the evening before at my friend Wilma’s. He’s Wilma’s second cousin. I used to think Wilma was nice, which she is, but all she ever talks about is boys, and that gets to be a bore. He came toward me, somewhat shyly, and introduced himself as Hello Silberberg. I was a little surprised and wasn’t sure what he wanted, but it didn’t take me long to find out. He asked if I would allow him to accompany me to school. “As long as you’re headed that way, I’ll go with you,” I said. And so we walked together. Hello is sixteen and good at telling all kinds of funny stories.
He was waiting for me again this morning, and I expect he will be from now on.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 1, 1942
Until today I honestly couldn’t find the time to write you. I was with friends all day Thursday, we had company on Friday, and that’s how it went until today.
Hello and I have gotten to know each other very well this past week, and he’s told me a lot about his life. He comes from Gelsenkirchen and is living with his grandparents. His parents are in Belgium, but there’s no way he can get there. Hello used to have a girlfriend named Ursula. I know her too. She’s perfectly sweet and perfectly boring. Ever since he met me, Hello has realized that he’s been falling asleep at Ursul’s side. So I’m kind of a pep tonic. You never know what you’re good for!
Jacque spent Saturday night here. Sunday afternoon she was at Hanneli’s, and I was bored stiff.
Hello was supposed to come over that evening, but he called around six. I answered the phone, and he said, “This is Helmuth Silberberg. May I please speak to Anne?”
“Oh, Hello. This is Anne.”
“Oh, hi, Anne. How are you?”
“I just wanted to say I’m sorry but I can’t come tonight, though I would like to have a word with you. Is it all right if I come by and pick you up in about ten minutes?”
“Yes, that’s fine. Bye-bye!”
“Okay, I’ll be right over. Bye-bye!”
I hung up, quickly changed my clothes and fixed my hair. I was so nervous I leaned out the window to watch for him. He finally showed up. Miracle of miracles, I didn’t rush down the stairs, but waited quietly until he rang the bell. I went down to open the door, and he got right to the point.
“Anne, my grandmother thinks you’re too young for me to be seeing you on a regular basis. She says I should be going to the Lowenbachs’, but you probably know that I’m not going out with Ursul anymore.”
“No, I didn’t know. What happened? Did you two have a fight?”
“No, nothing like that. I told Ursul that we weren’t suited to each other and so it was better for us not to go together anymore, but that she was welcome at my house and I hoped I would be welcome at hers. Actually, I thought Ursul was hanging around with another boy, and I treated her as if she were. But that wasn’t true. And then my uncle said I should apologize to her, but of course I didn’t feel like it, and that’s why I broke up with her. But that was just one of the reasons.
“Now my grandmother wants me to see Ursul and not you, but I don’t agree and I’m not going to. Sometimes old people have really old-fashioned ideas, but that doesn’t mean I have to go along with them. I need my grandparents, but in a certain sense they need me too. From now on I’ll be free on Wednesday evenings. You see, my grandparents made me sign up for a wood-carving class, but actually I go to a club organized by the Zionists. My grandparents don’t want me to go, because they’re anti-Zionists. I’m not a fanatic Zionist, but it interests me. Anyway, it’s been such a mess lately that I’m planning to quit. So next Wednesday will be my last meeting. That means I can see you Wednesday evening, Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening, Sunday afternoon and maybe even more.”
“But if your grandparents don’t want you to, you shouldn’t go behind their backs.”
“All’s fair in love and war.”
Just then we passed Blankevoort’s Bookstore and there was Peter Schiff with two other boys; it was the first time he’d said hello to me in ages, and it really made me feel good.
Monday evening Hello came over to meet Father and Mother. I had bought a cake and some candy, and we had tea and cookies, the works, but neither Hello nor I felt like sitting stiffly on our chairs. So we went out for a walk, and he didn’t deliver me to my door until ten past eight. Father was furious. He said it was very wrong of me not to get home on time. I had to promise to be home by ten to eight in the future. I’ve been asked to Hello’s on Saturday.
Wilma told me that one night when Hello was at her house, she asked him, “Who do you like best, Ursul or Anne?”
He said, “It’s none of your business.”
But as he was leaving (they hadn’t talked to each other the rest of the evening), he said, “Well, I like Anne better, but don’t tell anyone. Bye!” And whoosh … he was out the door.
In everything he says or does, I can see that Hello is in love with me, and it’s kind of nice for a change. Margot would say that Hello is a decent sort. I think so too, but he’s more than that. Mother is also full of praise: “A good-looking boy. Nice and polite.” I’m glad he’s so popular with everyone. Except with my girlfriends. He thinks they’re very childish, and he’s right about that. Jacque still teases me about him, but I’m not in love with him. Not really. It’s all right for me to have boys as friends. Nobody minds.
Mother is always asking me who I’m going to marry when I grow up, but I bet she’ll never guess it’s Peter, because I talked her out of that idea myself, without batting an eyelash. I love Peter as I’ve never loved anyone, and I tell myself he’s only going around with all those other girls to hide his feelings for me. Maybe he thinks Hello and I are in love with each other, which we’re not. He’s just a friend, or as Mother puts it, a beau.
SUNDAY, JULY 5, 1942
The graduation ceremony in the Jewish Theater on Friday went as expected. My report card wasn’t too bad. I got one D, a C—in algebra and all the rest B’s, except for two B+’s and two B—’s. My parents are pleased, but they’re not like other parents when it comes to grades. They never worry about report cards, good or bad. As long as I’m healthy and happy and don’t talk back too much, they’re satisfied. If these three things are all right, everything else will take care of itself.
I’m just the opposite. I don’t want to be a poor student. I was accepted to the Jewish Lyceum on a conditional basis. I was supposed to stay in the seventh grade at the Montessori School, but when Jewish children were required to go to Jewish schools, Mr. Elte finally agreed, after a great deal of persuasion, to accept Lies Goslar and me. Lies also passed this year, though she has to repeat her geometry exam.
Poor Lies. It isn’t easy for her to study at home; her baby sister, a spoiled little two-year-old, plays in her room all day. If Gabi doesn’t get her way, she starts screaming, and if Lies doesn’t look after her, Mrs. Goslar starts screaming. So Lies has a hard time doing her homework, and as long as that’s the case, the tutoring she’s been getting won’t help much. The Goslar household is really a sight. Mrs. Goslar’s parents live next door, but eat with the family. Then there’s a hired girl, the baby, the always absentminded and absent Mr. Goslar and the always nervous and irritable Mrs. Goslar, who’s expecting another baby. Lies, who’s all thumbs, gets lost in the mayhem.
My sister Margot has also gotten her repo
rt card. Brilliant, as usual. If we had such a thing as “cum laude,” she would have passed with honors, she’s so smart.
Father has been home a lot lately. There’s nothing for him to do at the office; it must be awful to feel you’re not needed. Mr. Kleiman has taken over Opekta, and Mr. Kugler, Gies & Co., the company dealing in spices and spice substitutes that was set up in 1941.
A few days ago, as we were taking a stroll around our neighborhood square, Father began to talk about going into hiding. He said it would be very hard for us to live cut off from the rest of the world. I asked him why he was bringing this up now.
“Well, Anne,” he replied, “you know that for more than a year we’ve been bringing clothes, food and furniture to other people. We don’t want our belongings to be seized by the Germans. Nor do we want to fall into their clutches ourselves. So we’ll leave of our own accord and not wait to be hauled away.”
“But when, Father?” He sounded so serious that I felt scared.
“Don’t you worry. We’ll take care of everything. Just enjoy your carefree life while you can.”
That was it. Oh, may these somber words not come true for as long as possible.
The doorbell’s ringing, Hello’s here, time to stop.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 8, 1942
It seems like years since Sunday morning. So much has happened it’s as if the whole world had suddenly turned upside down. But as you can see, Kitty, I’m still alive, and that’s the main thing, Father says. I’m alive all right, but don’t ask where or how. You probably don’t understand a word I’m saying today, so I’ll begin by telling you what happened Sunday afternoon.
At three o’clock (Hello had left but was supposed to come back later), the doorbell rang. I didn’t hear it, since I was out on the balcony, lazily reading in the sun. A little while later Margot appeared in the kitchen doorway looking very agitated. “Father has received a call-up notice from the SS,” she whispered. “Mother has gone to see Mr. van Daan.” (Mr. van Daan is Father’s business partner and a good friend.)