The diary of a young gir.., p.11
The Diary of a Young Girl, p.11Anne Frank
Dussel finally had to give in, and I was granted the opportunity to work without interruption two afternoons a week. Dussel looked very sullen, didn’t speak to me for two days and made sure he occupied the table from five to five-thirty—all very childish, of course.
Anyone who’s so petty and pedantic at the age of fifty-four was born that way and is never going to change.
FRIDAY, JULY 16, 1943
There’s been another break-in, but this time a real one! Peter went down to the warehouse this morning at seven, as usual, and noticed at once that both the warehouse door and the street door were open. He immediately reported this to Pim, who went to the private office, tuned the radio to a German station and locked the door. Then they both went back upstairs. In such cases our orders are “not to wash ourselves or run any water, to be quiet, to be dressed by eight and not to go to the bathroom,” and as usual we followed these to the letter. We were all glad we’d slept so well and hadn’t heard anything. For a while we were indignant because no one from the office came upstairs the entire morning; Mr. Kleiman left us on tenterhooks until eleven-thirty. He told us that the burglars had forced the outside door and the warehouse door with a crowbar, but when they didn’t find anything worth stealing, they tried their luck on the next floor. They stole two cashboxes containing 40 guilders, blank checkbooks and, worst of all, coupons for 330 pounds of sugar, our entire allotment. It won’t be easy to wangle new ones.
Mr. Kugler thinks this burglar belongs to the same gang as the one who made an unsuccessful attempt six weeks ago to open all three doors (the warehouse door and the two outside doors).
The burglary caused another stir, but the Annex seems to thrive on excitement. Naturally, we were glad the cash register and the typewriters had been safely tucked away in our clothes closet.
PS. Landing in Sicily. Another step closer to the …!
MONDAY, JULY 19, 1943
North Amsterdam was very heavily bombed on Sunday. There was apparently a great deal of destruction. Entire streets are in ruins, and it will take a while for them to dig out all the bodies. So far there have been two hundred dead and countless wounded; the hospitals are bursting at the seams. We’ve been told of children searching forlornly in the smoldering ruins for their dead parents. It still makes me shiver to think of the dull, distant drone that signified the approaching destruction.
FRIDAY, JULY 23, 1943
Bep is currently able to get hold of notebooks, especially journals and ledgers, useful for my bookkeeping sister! Other kinds are for sale as well, but don’t ask what they’re like or how long they’ll last. At the moment they’re all labeled “No Coupons Needed!” Like everything else you can purchase without ration stamps, they’re totally worthless. They consist of twelve sheets of gray paper with narrow lines that slant across the page. Margot is thinking about taking a course in calligraphy; I’ve advised her to go ahead and do it. Mother won’t let me because of my eyes, but I think that’s silly. Whether I do that or something else, it all comes down to the same thing.
Since you’ve never been through a war, Kitty, and since you know very little about life in hiding, in spite of my letters, let me tell you, just for fun, what we each want to do first when we’re able to go outside again.
Margot and Mr. van Daan wish, above all else, to have a hot bath, filled to the brim, which they can lie in for more than half an hour. Mrs. van Daan would like a cake, Dussel can think of nothing but seeing his Charlotte, and Mother is dying for a cup of real coffee. Father would like to visit Mr. Voskuijl, Peter would go downtown, and as for me, I’d be so overjoyed I wouldn’t know where to begin.
Most of all I long to have a home of our own, to be able to move around freely and have someone help me with my homework again, at last. In other words, to go back to school!
Bep has offered to get us some fruit, at so-called bargain prices: grapes 2.50 guilders a pound, gooseberries 70 cents a pound, one peach 50 cents, melons 75 cents a pound. No wonder the papers write every evening in big, fat letters: “Keep Prices Down!”
MONDAY, JULY 26, 1943
Yesterday was a very tumultuous day, and we’re still all wound up. Actually, you may wonder if there’s ever a day that passes without some kind of excitement.
The first warning siren went off in the morning while we were at breakfast, but we paid no attention, because it only meant that the planes were crossing the coast. I had a terrible headache, so I lay down for an hour after breakfast and then went to the office at around two. At two-thirty Margot had finished her office work and was just gathering her things together when the sirens began wailing again. So she and I trooped back upstairs. None too soon, it seems, for less than five minutes later the guns were booming so loudly that we went and stood in the hall. The house shook and the bombs kept falling. I was clutching my “escape bag,” more because I wanted to have something to hold on to than because I wanted to run away. I know we can’t leave here, but if we had to, being seen on the streets would be just as dangerous as getting caught in an air raid. After half an hour the drone of engines faded and the house began to hum with activity again. Peter emerged from his lookout post in the front attic, Dussel remained in the front office, Mrs. van D. felt safest in the private office, Mr. van Daan had been watching from the loft, and those of us on the landing spread out to watch the columns of smoke rising from the harbor. Before long the smell of fire was everywhere, and outside it looked as if the city were enveloped in a thick fog.
A big fire like that is not a pleasant sight, but fortunately for us it was all over, and we went back to our various chores. Just as we were starting dinner: another air-raid alarm. The food was good, but I lost my appetite the moment I heard the siren. Nothing happened, however, and forty-five minutes later the all clear was sounded. After the dishes had been washed: another air-raid warning, gunfire and swarms of planes. “Oh, gosh, twice in one day,” we thought, “that’s twice too many.” Little good that did us, because once again the bombs rained down, this time on the other side of the city. According to British reports, Schiphol Airport was bombed. The planes dived and climbed, the air was abuzz with the drone of engines. It was very scary, and the whole time I kept thinking, “Here it comes, this is it.”
I can assure you that when I went to bed at nine, my legs were still shaking. At the stroke of midnight I woke up again: more planes! Dussel was undressing, but I took no notice and leapt up, wide awake, at the sound of the first shot. I stayed in Father’s bed until one, in my own bed until one-thirty, and was back in Father’s bed at two. But the planes kept on coming. At last they stopped firing and I was able to go back “home” again. I finally fell asleep at half past two.
Seven o’clock. I awoke with a start and sat up in bed. Mr. van Daan was with Father. My first thought was: burglars. “Everything,” I heard Mr. van Daan say, and I thought everything had been stolen. But no, this time it was wonderful news, the best we’ve had in months, maybe even since the war began. Mussolini has resigned and the King of Italy has taken over the government.
We jumped for joy. After the awful events of yesterday, finally something good happens and brings us … hope! Hope for an end to the war, hope for peace.
Mr. Kugler dropped by and told us that the Fokker aircraft factory had been hit hard. Meanwhile, there was another air-raid alarm this morning, with planes flying over, and another warning siren. I’ve had it up to here with alarms. I’ve hardly slept, and the last thing I want to do is work. But now the suspense about Italy and the hope that the war will be over by the end of the year are keeping us awake …
THURSDAY, JULY 29, 1943
Mrs. van Daan, Dussel and I were doing the dishes, and I was extremely quiet. This is very unusual for me and they were sure to notice, so in order to avoid any questions, I quickly racked my bra
“How can you possibly understand the psychology of a man? That of a child isn’t so difficult [!]. But you’re far too young to read a book like that. Even a twenty-year-old man would be unable to comprehend it.” (So why did he go out of his way to recommend it to Margot and me?)
Mrs. van D. and Dussel continued their harangue: “You know way too much about things you’re not supposed to. You’ve been brought up all wrong. Later on, when you’re older, you won’t be able to enjoy anything anymore. You’ll say, ‘Oh, I read that twenty years ago in some book.’ You’d better hurry if you want to catch a husband or fall in love, since everything is bound to be a disappointment to you. You already know all there is to know in theory. But in practice? That’s another story!”
Can you imagine how I felt? I astonished myself by calmly replying, “You may think I haven’t been raised properly, but many people would disagree!”
They apparently believe that good child-rearing includes trying to pit me against my parents, since that’s all they ever do. And not telling a girl my age about grown-up subjects is fine. We can all see what happens when people are raised that way.
At that moment I could have slapped them both for poking fun at me. I was beside myself with rage, and if I only knew how much longer we had to put up with each other’s company, I’d start counting the days.
Mrs. van Daan’s a fine one to talk! She sets an example all right—a bad one! She’s known to be exceedingly pushy, egotistical, cunning, calculating and perpetually dissatisfied. Add to that, vanity and coquettishness and there’s no question about it: she’s a thoroughly despicable person. I could write an entire book about Madame van Daan, and who knows, maybe someday I will. Anyone can put on a charming exterior when they want to. Mrs. van D. is friendly to strangers, especially men, so it’s easy to make a mistake when you first get to know her.
Mother thinks that Mrs. van D. is too stupid for words, Margot that she’s too unimportant, Pim that she’s too ugly (literally and figuratively!), and after long observation (I’m never prejudiced at the beginning), I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s all three of the above, and lots more besides. She has so many bad traits, why should I single out just one of them?
PS. Will the reader please take into consideration that this story was written before the writer’s fury had cooled?
TUESDAY, AUGUST 3, 1943
Things are going well on the political front. Italy has banned the Fascist Party. The people are fighting the Fascists in many places—even the army has joined the fight. How can a country like that continue to wage war against England?
Our beautiful radio was taken away last week. Dussel was very angry at Mr. Kugler for turning it in on the appointed day. Dussel is slipping lower and lower in my estimation, and he’s already below zero. Whatever he says about politics, history, geography or anything else is so ridiculous that I hardly dare repeat it: Hitler will fade from history; the harbor in Rotterdam is bigger than the one in Hamburg; the English are idiots for not taking the opportunity to bomb Italy to smithereens; etc., etc.
We just had a third air raid. I decided to grit my teeth and practice being courageous.
Mrs. van Daan, the one who always said “Let them fall” and “Better to end with a bang than not to end at all,” is the most cowardly one among us. She was shaking like a leaf this morning and even burst into tears. She was comforted by her husband, with whom she recently declared a truce after a week of squabbling; I nearly got sentimental at the sight.
Mouschi has now proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that having a cat has disadvantages as well as advantages. The whole house is crawling with fleas, and it’s getting worse each day. Mr. Kleiman sprinkled yellow powder in every nook and cranny, but the fleas haven’t taken the slightest notice. It’s making us all very jittery; we’re forever imagining a bite on our arms and legs or other parts of our bodies, so we leap up and do a few exercises, since it gives us an excuse to take a better look at our arms or necks. But now we’re paying the price for having had so little physical exercise; we’re so stiff we can hardly turn our heads. The real calisthenics fell by the wayside long ago.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4, 1943
Now that we’ve been in hiding for a little over a year, you know a great deal about our lives. Still, I can’t possibly tell you everything, since it’s all so different compared to ordinary times and ordinary people. Nevertheless, to give you a closer look into our lives, from time to time I’ll describe part of an ordinary day. I’ll start with the evening and night.
Nine in the evening. Bedtime always begins in the Annex with an enormous hustle and bustle. Chairs are shifted, beds pulled out, blankets unfolded—nothing stays where it is during the daytime. I sleep on a small divan, which is only five feet long, so we have to add a few chairs to make it longer. Comforter, sheets, pillows, blankets: everything has to be removed from Dussel’s bed, where it’s kept during the day.
In the next room there’s a terrible creaking: that’s Margot’s folding bed being set up. More blankets and pillows, anything to make the wooden slats a bit more comfortable. Upstairs it sounds like thunder, but it’s only Mrs. van D.’s bed being shoved against the window so that Her Majesty, arrayed in her pink bed jacket, can sniff the night air through her delicate little nostrils.
Nine o’clock. After Peter’s finished, it’s my turn for the bathroom. I wash myself from head to toe, and more often than not I find a tiny flea floating in the sink (only during the hot months, weeks or days). I brush my teeth, curl my hair, manicure my nails and dab peroxide on my upper lip to bleach the black hairs—all this in less than half an hour.
Nine-thirty. I throw on my bathrobe. With soap in one hand, and potty, hairpins, panties, curlers and a wad of cotton in the other, I hurry out of the bathroom. The next in line invariably calls me back to remove the gracefully curved but unsightly hairs that I’ve left in the sink.
Ten o’clock. Time to put up the blackout screen and say good-night. For the next fifteen minutes, at least, the house is filled with the creaking of beds and the sigh of broken springs, and then, provided our upstairs neighbors aren’t having a marital spat in bed, all is quiet.
Eleven-thirty. The bathroom door creaks. A narrow strip of light falls into the room. Squeaking shoes, a large coat, even larger than the man inside it … Dussel is returning from his nightly work in Mr. Kugler’s office. I hear him shuffling back and forth for ten whole minutes, the rustle of paper (from the food he’s tucking away in his cupboard) and the bed being made up. Then the figure disappears again, and the only sound is the occasional suspicious noise from the bathroom.
Approximately three o’clock. I have to get up to use the tin can under my bed, which, to be on the safe side, has a rubber mat underneath in case of leaks. I always hold my breath while I go, since it clatters into the can like a brook down a mountainside. The potty is returned to its place, and the figure in the white nightgown (the one that causes Margot to exclaim every evening, “Oh, that indecent nighty!”) climbs back into bed. A certain somebody lies awake for about fifteen minutes, listening to the sounds of the night. In the first place, to hear whether there are any burglars downstairs, and then to the various beds—upstairs, next door and in my room—to tell whether the others are asleep or half awake. This is no fun, especially when it concerns a member of the family named Dr. Dussel. First, there’s th
Sometimes the guns go off during the night, between one and four. I’m never aware of it before it happens, but all of a sudden I find myself standing beside my bed, out of sheer habit. Occasionally I’m dreaming so deeply (of irregular French verbs or a quarrel upstairs) that I realize only when my dream is over that the shooting has stopped and that I’ve remained quietly in my room. But usually I wake up. Then I grab a pillow and a handkerchief, throw on my robe and slippers and dash next door to Father, just the way Margot described in this birthday poem:
Once I’ve reached the big bed, the worst is over, except when the shooting is extra loud.
Six forty five. Brrring … the alarm clock, which raises its shrill voice at any hour of the day or night, whether you want it to or not. Creak … wham … Mrs. van D. turns it off. Screak … Mr. van D. gets up, puts on the water and races to the bathroom.
Seven-fifteen. The door creaks again. Dussel can go to the bathroom. Alone at last, I remove the blackout screen … and a new day begins in the Annex.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 1943
Today let’s talk about the lunch break.
It’s twelve-thirty. The whole gang breathes a sigh of relief: Mr. van Maaren, the man with the shady past, and Mr. de Kok have gone home for lunch.
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