I was stunned. A call-up: everyone knows what that means. Visions of concentration camps and lonely cells raced through my head. How could we let Father go to such a fate? “Of course he’s not going,” declared Margot as we waited for Mother in the living room. “Mother’s gone to Mr. van Daan to ask whether we can move to our hiding place tomorrow. The van Daans are going with us. There will be seven of us altogether.” Silence. We couldn’t speak. The thought of Father off visiting someone in the Jewish Hospital and completely unaware of what was happening, the long wait for Mother, the heat, the suspense—all this reduced us to silence.
Suddenly the doorbell rang again. “That’s Hello,” I said.
“Don’t open the door!” exclaimed Margot to stop me. But it wasn’t necessary, since we heard Mother and Mr. van Daan downstairs talking to Hello, and then the two of them came inside and shut the door behind them. Every time the bell rang, either Margot or I had to tiptoe downstairs to see if it was Father, and we didn’t let anyone else in. Margot and I were sent from the room, as Mr. van Daan wanted to talk to Mother alone.
When she and I were sitting in our bedroom, Margot told me that the call-up was not for Father, but for her. At this second shock, I began to cry. Margot is sixteen—apparently they want to send girls her age away on their own. But thank goodness she won’t be going; Mother had said so herself, which must be what Father had meant when he talked to me about our going into hiding. Hiding … where would we hide? In the city? In the country? In a house? In a shack? When, where, how …? These were questions I wasn’t allowed to ask, but they still kept running through my mind.
Margot and I started packing our most important belongings into a schoolbag. The first thing I stuck in was this diary, and then curlers, handkerchiefs, schoolbooks, a comb and some old letters. Preoccupied by the thought of going into hiding, I stuck the craziest things in the bag, but I’m not sorry. Memories mean more to me than dresses.
Father finally came home around five o’clock, and we called Mr. Kleiman to ask if he could come by that evening. Mr. van Daan left and went to get Miep. Miep arrived and promised to return later that night, taking with her a bag full of shoes, dresses, jackets, underwear and stockings. After that it was quiet in our apartment; none of us felt like eating. It was still hot, and everything was very strange.
We had rented our big upstairs room to a Mr. Goldschmidt, a divorced man in his thirties, who apparently had nothing to do that evening, since despite all our polite hints he hung around until ten o’clock.
Miep and Jan Gies came at eleven. Miep, who’s worked for Father’s company since 1933, has become a close friend, and so has her husband Jan. Once again, shoes, stockings, books and underwear disappeared into Miep’s bag and Jan’s deep pockets. At eleven-thirty they too disappeared.
I was exhausted, and even though I knew it’d be my last night in my own bed, I fell asleep right away and didn’t wake up until Mother called me at five-thirty the next morning. Fortunately, it wasn’t as hot as Sunday; a warm rain fell throughout the day. The four of us were wrapped in so many layers of clothes it looked as if we were going off to spend the night in a refrigerator, and all that just so we could take more clothes with us. No Jew in our situation would dare leave the house with a suitcase full of clothes. I was wearing two undershirts, three pairs of underpants, a dress, and over that a skirt, a jacket, a raincoat, two pairs of stockings, heavy shoes, a cap, a scarf and lots more. I was suffocating even before we left the house, but no one bothered to ask me how I felt.
Margot stuffed her schoolbag with schoolbooks, went to get her bicycle and, with Miep leading the way, rode off into the great unknown. At any rate, that’s how I thought of it, since I still didn’t know where our hiding place was.
At seven-thirty we too closed the door behind us; Moortje, my cat, was the only living creature I said good-bye to. According to a note we left for Mr. Goldschmidt, she was to be taken to the neighbors, who would give her a good home.
The stripped beds, the breakfast things on the table, the pound of meat for the cat in the kitchen—all of these created the impression that we’d left in a hurry. But we weren’t interested in impressions. We just wanted to get out of there, to get away and reach our destination in safety. Nothing else mattered.
THURSDAY, JULY 9, 1942
Only when we were walking down the street did Father and Mother reveal, little by little, what the plan was. For months we’d been moving as much of our furniture and apparel out of the apartment as we could. It was agreed that we’d go into hiding on July 16. Because of Margot’s call-up notice, the plan had to be moved up ten days, which meant we’d have to make do with less orderly rooms.
The hiding place was located in Father’s office building. That’s a little hard for outsiders to understand, so I’ll explain. Father didn’t have a lot of people working in his office, just Mr. Kugler, Mr. Kleiman, Miep and a twenty-three-year-old typist named Bep Voskuijl, all of whom were informed of our coming. Mr. Voskuijl, Bep’s father, works in the warehouse, along with two assistants, none of whom were told anything.
Here’s a description of the building. The large warehouse on the ground floor is used as a workroom and storeroom and is divided into several different sections, such as the stockroom and the milling room, where cinnamon, cloves and a pepper substitute are ground.
Next to the warehouse doors is another outside door, a separate entrance to the office. Just inside the office door is a second door, and beyond that a stairway. At the top of the stairs is another door, with a frosted window on which the word “Office” is written in black letters. This is the big front office—very large, very light and very full. Bep, Miep and Mr. Kleiman work there during the day. After passing through an alcove containing a safe, a wardrobe and a big supply cupboard, you come to the small, dark, stuffy back office. This used to be shared by Mr. Kugler and Mr. van Daan, but now Mr. Kugler is its only occupant. Mr. Kugler’s office can also be reached from the hallway, but only through a glass door that can be opened from the inside but not easily from the outside. If you leave Mr. Kugler’s office and proceed through the long, narrow hallway past the coal bin and go up four steps, you find yourself in the private office, the showpiece of the entire building. Elegant mahogany furniture, a linoleum floor covered with throw rugs, a radio, a fancy lamp, everything first class. Next door is a spacious kitchen with a hot-water heater and two gas burners, and beside that a bathroom. That’s the second floor.
A wooden staircase leads from the downstairs hallway to the third floor. At the top of the stairs is a landing, with doors on either side. The door on the left takes you up to the spice storage area, attic and loft in the front part of the house. A typically Dutch, very steep, ankle-twisting flight of stairs also runs from the front part of the house to another door opening onto the street.
The door to the right of the landing leads to the “Secret Annex” at the back of the house. No one would ever suspect there were so many rooms behind that plain gray door. There’s just one small step in front of the door, and then you’re inside. Straight ahead of you is a steep flight of stairs. To the left is a narrow hallway opening onto a room that serves as the Frank family’s living room and bedroom. Next door is a smaller room, the bedroom and study of the two young ladies of the family. To the right of the stairs is a windowless washroom with a sink. The door in the corner leads to the toilet and another one to Margot’s and my room. If you go up the stairs and open the door at the top, you’re surprised to see such a large, light and
spacious room in an old canal-side house like this. It contains a stove (thanks to the fact that it used to be Mr. Kugler’s laboratory) and a sink. This will be the kitchen and bedroom of Mr. and Mrs. van Daan, as well as the general living room, dining room and study for us all. A tiny side room is to be Peter van Daan’s bedroom. Then, just as in the front part of the building, there’s an attic and a loft. So there you are. Now I’ve introduced you to the whole of our lovely Annex!
FRIDAY, JULY 10, 1942
I’ve probably bored you with my long description of our house, but I still think you should know where I’ve ended up; how I ended up here is something you’ll figure out from my next letters.
But first, let me continue my story, because, as you know, I wasn’t finished. After we arrived at 263 Prinsengracht, Miep quickly led us through the long hallway and up the wooden staircase to the next floor and into the Annex. She shut the door behind us, leaving us alone. Margot had arrived much earlier on her bike and was waiting for us.
Our living room and all the other rooms were so full of stuff that I can’t find the words to describe it. All the cardboard boxes that had been sent to the office in the last few months were piled on the floors and beds. The small room was filled from floor to ceiling with linens. If we wanted to sleep in properly made beds that night, we had to get going and straighten up the mess. Mother and Margot were unable to move a muscle. They lay down on their bare mattresses, tired, miserable and I don’t know what else. But Father and I, the two cleaner-uppers in the family, started in right away.
All day long we unpacked boxes, filled cupboards, hammered nails and straightened up the mess, until we fell exhausted into our clean beds at night. We hadn’t eaten a hot meal all day, but we didn’t care; Mother and Margot were too tired and keyed up to eat, and Father and I were too busy.
Tuesday morning we started where we left off the night before. Bep and Miep went grocery shopping with our ration coupons, Father worked on our blackout screens, we scrubbed the kitchen floor, and were once again busy from sunup to sundown. Until Wednesday, I didn’t have a chance to think about the enormous change in my life. Then for the first time since our arrival in the Secret Annex, I found a moment to tell you all about it and to realize what had happened to me and what was yet to happen.
SATURDAY, JULY 11, 1942
Father, Mother and Margot still can’t get used to the chiming of the Westertoren clock, which tells us the time every quarter of an hour. Not me, I liked it from the start; it sounds so reassuring, especially at night. You no doubt want to hear what I think of being in hiding. Well, all I can say is that I don’t really know yet. I don’t think I’ll ever feel at home in this house, but that doesn’t mean I hate it. It’s more like being on vacation in some strange pension. Kind of an odd way to look at life in hiding, but that’s how things are. The Annex is an ideal place to hide in. It may be damp and lopsided, but there’s probably not a more comfortable hiding place in all of Amsterdam. No, in all of Holland.
Up to now our bedroom, with its blank walls, was very bare. Thanks to Father—who brought my entire postcard and movie-star collection here beforehand—and to a brush and a pot of glue, I was able to plaster the walls with pictures. It looks much more cheerful. When the van Daans arrive, we’ll be able to build cupboards and other odds and ends out of the wood piled in the attic.
Margot and Mother have recovered somewhat. Yesterday Mother felt well enough to cook split-pea soup for the first time, but then she was downstairs talking and forgot all about it. The beans were scorched black, and no amount of scraping could get them out of the pan.
Last night the four of us went down to the private office and listened to England on the radio. I was so scared someone might hear it that I literally begged Father to take me back upstairs. Mother understood my anxiety and went with me. Whatever we do, we’re very afraid the neighbors might hear or see us. We started off immediately the first day sewing curtains. Actually, you can hardly call them that, since they’re nothing but scraps of fabric, varying greatly in shape, quality and pattern, which Father and I stitched crookedly together with unskilled fingers. These works of art were tacked to the windows, where they’ll stay until we come out of hiding.
The building on our right is a branch of the Keg Company, a firm from Zaandam, and on the left is a furniture workshop. Though the people who work there are not on the premises after hours, any sound we make might travel through the walls. We’ve forbidden Margot to cough at night, even though she has a bad cold, and are giving her large doses of codeine.
I’m looking forward to the arrival of the van Daans, which is set for Tuesday. It will be much more fun and also not as quiet. You see, it’s the silence that makes me so nervous during the evenings and nights, and I’d give anything to have one of our helpers sleep here.
It’s really not that bad here, since we can do our own cooking and can listen to the radio in Daddy’s office. Mr. Kleiman and Miep, and Bep Voskuijl too, have helped us so much. We’ve already canned loads of rhubarb, strawberries and cherries, so for the time being I doubt we’ll be bored. We also have a supply of reading material, and we’re going to buy lots of games. Of course, we can’t ever look out the window or go outside. And we have to be quiet so the people downstairs can’t hear us.
Yesterday we had our hands full. We had to pit two crates of cherries for Mr. Kugler to can. We’re going to use the empty crates to make bookshelves.
Someone’s calling me.
COMMENT ADDED BY ANNE ON SEPTEMBER 28, 1942:
Not being able to go outside upsets me more than I can say, and I’m terrified our hiding place will be discovered and that we’ll be shot. That, of course, is a fairly dismal prospect.
SUNDAY, JULY 12, 1942
They were all so nice to me a month ago because of my birthday, and yet every day I feel myself drifting further away from Mother and Margot. I worked hard today and they praised me, only to start picking on me again five minutes later.
You can easily see the difference between the way they deal with Margot and the way they deal with me. For example, Margot broke the vacuum cleaner, and because of that we’ve been without light for the rest of the day. Mother said, “Well, Margot, it’s easy to see you’re not used to working; otherwise, you’d have known better than to yank the plug out by the cord.” Margot made some reply, and that was the end of the story.
But this afternoon, when I wanted to rewrite something on Mother’s shopping list because her handwriting is so hard to read, she wouldn’t let me. She bawled me out again, and the whole family wound up getting involved.
I don’t fit in with them, and I’ve felt that clearly in the last few weeks. They’re so sentimental together, but I’d rather be sentimental on my own. They’re always saying how nice it is with the four of us, and that we get along so well, without giving a moment’s thought to the fact that I don’t feel that way.
Daddy’s the only one who understands me, now and again, though he usually sides with Mother and Margot. Another thing I can’t stand is having them talk about me in front of outsiders, telling them how I cried or how sensibly I’m behaving. It’s horrible. And sometimes they talk about Moortje and I can’t take that at all. Moortje is my weak spot. I miss her every minute of the day, and no one knows how often I think of her; whenever I do, my eyes fill with tears. Moortje is so sweet, and I love her so much that I keep dreaming she’ll come back to us.
I have plenty of dreams, but the reality is that we’ll have to stay here until the war is over. We can’t ever go outside, and the only visitors we can have are Miep, her husband Jan, Bep Voskuijl, Mr. Voskuijl, Mr. Kugler, Mr. Kleiman and Mrs. Kleiman, though she hasn’t come because she thinks it’s too dangerous.
COMMENT ADDED BY ANNE IN SEPTEMBER 1942:
Daddy’s always so nice. He understands me perfectly,
and I wish we could have a heart-to-heart talk sometime without my bursting instantly into tears. But apparently that has to do with my age. I’d like to spend all my time writing, but that would probably get boring.
Up to now I’ve only confided my thoughts to my diary. I still haven’t gotten around to writing amusing sketches that I could read aloud at a later date. In the future I’m going to devote less time to sentimentality and more time to reality.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 14, 1942
I’ve deserted you for an entire month, but so little has happened that I can’t find a newsworthy item to relate every single day. The van Daans arrived on July 13. We thought they were coming on the fourteenth, but from the thirteenth to sixteenth the Germans were sending out call-up notices right and left and causing a lot of unrest, so they decided it would be safer to leave a day too early than a day too late.
Peter van Daan arrived at nine-thirty in the morning (while we were still at breakfast). Peter’s going on sixteen, a shy, awkward boy whose company won’t amount to much. Mr. and Mrs. van Daan came half an hour later. Much to our amusement, Mrs. van Daan was carrying a hatbox with a large chamber pot inside. “I just don’t feel at home without my chamber pot,” she exclaimed, and it was the first item to find a permanent place under the divan. Instead of a chamber pot, Mr. van D. was lugging a collapsible tea table under his arm.
From the first, we ate our meals together, and after three days it felt as if the seven of us had become one big family. Naturally, the van Daans had much to tell about the week we’d been away from civilization. We were especially interested in what had happened to our apartment and to Mr. Goldschmidt.