The diary of a young gir.., p.4
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       The Diary of a Young Girl, p.4

           Anne Frank
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  Mr. van Daan filled us in: “Monday morning at nine, Mr. Goldschmidt phoned and asked if I could come over. I went straightaway and found a very distraught Mr. Goldschmidt. He showed me a note that the Frank family had left behind. As instructed, he was planning to bring the cat to the neighbors, which I agreed was a good idea. He was afraid the house was going to be searched, so we went through all the rooms, straightening up here and there and clearing the breakfast things off the table. Suddenly I saw a notepad on Mrs. Frank’s desk, with an address in Maastricht written on it. Even though I knew Mrs. Frank had left it on purpose, I pretended to be surprised and horrified and begged Mr. Goldschmidt to burn this incriminating piece of paper. I swore up and down that I knew nothing about your disappearance, but that the note had given me an idea. ‘Mr. Goldschmidt,’ I said, ‘I bet I know what this address refers to. About six months ago a high-ranking officer came to the office. It seems he and Mr. Frank grew up together. He promised to help Mr. Frank if it was ever necessary. As I recall, he was stationed in Maastricht. I think this officer has kept his word and is somehow planning to help them cross over to Belgium and then to Switzerland. There’s no harm in telling this to any friends of the Franks who come asking about them. Of course, you don’t need to mention the part about Maastricht.’ And after that I left. This is the story most of your friends have been told, because I heard it later from several other people.”

  We thought it was extremely funny, but we laughed even harder when Mr. van Daan told us that certain people have vivid imaginations. For example, one family living on our square claimed they saw all four of us riding by on our bikes early in the morning, and another woman was absolutely positive we’d been loaded into some kind of military vehicle in the middle of the night.

  Yours, Anne

  FRIDAY, AUGUST 21, 1942

  Dear Kitty,

  Now our Secret Annex has truly become secret. Because so many houses are being searched for hidden bicycles, Mr. Kugler thought it would be better to have a bookcase built in front of the entrance to our hiding place. It swings out on its hinges and opens like a door. Mr. Voskuijl did the carpentry work. (Mr. Voskuijl has been told that the seven of us are in hiding, and he’s been most helpful.)

  Now whenever we want to go downstairs we have to duck and then jump. After the first three days we were all walking around with bumps on our foreheads from banging our heads against the low doorway. Then Peter cushioned it by nailing a towel stuffed with wood shavings to the doorframe. Let’s see if it helps!

  I’m not doing much schoolwork. I’ve given myself a vacation until September. Father wants to start tutoring me then, but we have to buy all the books first.

  There’s little change in our lives here. Peter’s hair was washed today, but that’s nothing special. Mr. van Daan and I are always at loggerheads with each other. Mama always treats me like a baby, which I can’t stand. For the rest, things are going better. I don’t think Peter’s gotten any nicer. He’s an obnoxious boy who lies around on his bed all day, only rousing himself to do a little carpentry work before returning to his nap. What a dope!

  Mama gave me another one of her dreadful sermons this morning. We take the opposite view of everything. Daddy’s a sweetheart; he may get mad at me, but it never lasts longer than five minutes.

  It’s a beautiful day outside, nice and hot, and in spite of everything, we make the most of the weather by lounging on the folding bed in the attic.

  Yours, Anne


  Mr. van Daan has been as nice as pie to me recently. I’ve said nothing, but have been enjoying it while it lasts.


  Dearest Kitty,

  Mr. and Mrs. van Daan have had a terrible fight. I’ve never seen anything like it, since Mother and Father wouldn’t dream of shouting at each other like that. The argument was based on something so trivial it didn’t seem worth wasting a single word on it. Oh well, to each his own.

  Of course, it’s very difficult for Peter, who gets caught in the middle, but no one takes Peter seriously anymore, since he’s hypersensitive and lazy. Yesterday he was beside himself with worry because his tongue was blue instead of pink. This rare phenomenon disappeared as quickly as it came. Today he’s walking around with a thick scarf on because he’s got a stiff neck. His Highness has been complaining of lumbago too. Aches and pains in his heart, kidneys and lungs are also par for the course. He’s an absolute hypochondriac! (That’s the right word, isn’t it?)

  Mother and Mrs. van Daan aren’t getting along very well. There are enough reasons for the friction. To give you one small example, Mrs. van D. has removed all but three of her sheets from our communal linen closet. She’s assuming that Mother’s can be used for both families. She’ll be in for a nasty surprise when she discovers that Mother has followed her lead.

  Furthermore, Mrs. van D. is ticked off because we’re using her china instead of ours. She’s still trying to find out what we’ve done with our plates; they’re a lot closer than she thinks, since they’re packed in cardboard boxes in the attic, behind a load of Opekta advertising material. As long as we’re in hiding, the plates will remain out of her reach. Since I’m always having accidents, it’s just as well! Yesterday I broke one of Mrs. van D.’s soup bowls.

  “Oh!” she angrily exclaimed. “Can’t you be more careful? That was my last one.”

  Please bear in mind, Kitty, that the two ladies speak abominable Dutch (I don’t dare comment on the gentlemen: they’d be highly insulted). If you were to hear their bungled attempts, you’d laugh your head off. We’ve given up pointing out their errors, since correcting them doesn’t help anyway. Whenever I quote Mother or Mrs. van Daan, I’ll write proper Dutch instead of trying to duplicate their speech.

  Last week there was a brief interruption in our monotonous routine. This was provided by Peter—and a book about women. I should explain that Margot and Peter are allowed to read nearly all the books Mr. Kleiman lends us. But the adults preferred to keep this special book to themselves. This immediately piqued Peter’s curiosity. What forbidden fruit did it contain? He snuck off with it when his mother was downstairs talking, and took himself and his booty to the loft. For two days all was well. Mrs. van Daan knew what he was up to, but kept mum until Mr. van Daan found out about it. He threw a fit, took the book away and assumed that would be the end of the business. However, he’d neglected to take his son’s curiosity into account. Peter, not in the least fazed by his father’s swift action, began thinking up ways to read the rest of this vastly interesting book.

  In the meantime, Mrs. van D. asked Mother for her opinion. Mother didn’t think this particular book was suitable for Margot, but she saw no harm in letting her read most other books.

  “You see, Mrs. van Daan,” Mother said, “there’s a big difference between Margot and Peter. To begin with, Margot’s a girl, and girls are always more mature than boys. Second, she’s already read many serious books and doesn’t go looking for those which are no longer forbidden. Third, Margot’s much more sensible and intellectually advanced, as a result of her four years at an excellent school.”

  Mrs. van Daan agreed with her, but felt it was wrong as a matter of principle to let youngsters read books written for adults.

  Meanwhile, Peter had thought of a suitable time when no one would be interested in either him or the book. At seven-thirty in the evening, when the entire family was listening to the radio in the private office, he took his treasure and stole off to the loft again. He should have been back by eight-thirty, but he was so engrossed in the book that he forgot the time and was just coming down the stairs when his father entered the room. The scene that followed was not surprising: after a slap, a whack and a tug-of-war, the book lay on the table and Peter was in the loft.

  This is how matters stood when it was time for the family to eat. Peter stayed upstairs. No one gave him a moment’s thought; he’d have to go to bed without his
dinner. We continued eating, chatting merrily away, when suddenly we heard a piercing whistle. We lay down our forks and stared at each other, the shock clearly visible on our pale faces.

  Then we heard Peter’s voice through the chimney: “I won’t come down!”

  Mr. van Daan leapt up, his napkin falling to the floor, and shouted, with the blood rushing to his face, “I’ve had enough!”

  Father, afraid of what might happen, grabbed him by the arm and the two men went to the attic. After much struggling and kicking, Peter wound up in his room with the door shut, and we went on eating.

  Mrs. van Daan wanted to save a piece of bread for her darling son, but Mr. van D. was adamant. “If he doesn’t apologize this minute, he’ll have to sleep in the loft.”

  We protested that going without dinner was enough punishment. What if Peter were to catch cold? We wouldn’t be able to call a doctor.

  Peter didn’t apologize, and returned to the loft. Mr. van Daan decided to leave well enough alone, though he did note the next morning that Peter’s bed had been slept in. At seven Peter went to the attic again, but was persuaded to come downstairs when Father spoke a few friendly words to him. After three days of sullen looks and stubborn silence, everything was back to normal.

  Yours, Anne


  Dearest Kitty,

  Today I’ll tell you the general news here in the Annex. A lamp has been mounted above my divan bed so that in the future, when I hear the guns going off, I’ll be able to pull a cord and switch on the light. I can’t use it at the moment because we’re keeping our window open a little, day and night.

  The male members of the van Daan contingent have built a very handy wood-stained food safe, with real screens. Up to now this glorious cupboard has been located in Peter’s room, but in the interests of fresh air it’s been moved to the attic. Where it once stood, there’s now a shelf. I advised Peter to put his table underneath the shelf, add a nice rug and hang his own cupboard where the table now stands. That might make his little cubbyhole more comfy, though I certainly wouldn’t like to sleep there.

  Mrs. van Daan is unbearable. I’m continually being scolded for my incessant chatter when I’m upstairs. I simply let the words bounce right off me! Madame now has a new trick up her sleeve: trying to get out of washing the pots and pans. If there’s a bit of food left at the bottom of the pan, she leaves it to spoil instead of transferring it to a glass dish. Then in the afternoon when Margot is stuck with cleaning all the pots and pans, Madame exclaims, “Oh, poor Margot, you have so much work to do!”

  Every other week Mr. Kleiman brings me a couple of books written for girls my age. I’m enthusiastic about the Joop ter Heul series. I’ve enjoyed all of Cissy van Marxveldt’s books very much. I’ve read The Zaniest Summer four times, and the ludicrous situations still make me laugh.

  Father and I are currently working on our family tree, and he tells me something about each person as we go along.

  I’ve begun my schoolwork. I’m working hard at French, cramming five irregular verbs into my head every day. But I’ve forgotten much too much of what I learned in school.

  Peter has taken up his English with great reluctance. A few schoolbooks have just arrived, and I brought a large supply of notebooks, pencils, erasers and labels from home. Pim (that’s our pet name for Father) wants me to help him with his Dutch lessons. I’m perfectly willing to tutor him in exchange for his assistance with French and other subjects. But he makes the most unbelievable mistakes!

  I sometimes listen to the Dutch broadcasts from London. Prince Bernhard recently announced that Princess Juliana is expecting a baby in January, which I think is wonderful. No one here understands why I take such an interest in the Royal Family.

  A few nights ago I was the topic of discussion, and we all decided I was an ignoramus. As a result, I threw myself into my schoolwork the next day, since I have little desire to still be a freshman when I’m fourteen or fifteen. The fact that I’m hardly allowed to read anything was also discussed. At the moment, Mother’s reading The House of Tavelinck, and of course I’m not allowed to read it (though Margot is!). First I have to be more intellectually developed, like my genius of a sister. Then we discussed my ignorance of philosophy, psychology and physiology (I immediately looked up these big words in the dictionary!). It’s true, I don’t know anything about these subjects. But maybe I’ll be smarter next year!

  I’ve come to the shocking conclusion that I have only one long-sleeved dress and three cardigans to wear in the winter. Father’s given me permission to knit a white wool sweater; the yarn isn’t very pretty, but it’ll be warm, and that’s what counts. Some of our clothing was left with friends, but unfortunately we won’t be able to get to it until after the war. Provided it’s still there, of course.

  I’d just finished writing something about Mrs. van Daan when she walked into the room. Thump, I slammed the book shut.

  “Hey, Anne, can’t I even take a peek?”

  “No, Mrs. van Daan.”

  “Just the last page then?”

  “No, not even the last page, Mrs. van Daan.”

  Of course, I nearly died, since that particular page contained a rather unflattering description of her.

  There’s something happening every day, but I’m too tired and lazy to write it all down.

  Yours, Anne


  Dearest Kitty,

  Father has a friend, a man in his mid-seventies named Mr. Dreher, who’s sick, poor and deaf as a post. At his side, like a useless appendage, is his wife, twenty-seven years younger and equally poor, whose arms and legs are loaded with real and fake bracelets and rings left over from more prosperous days. This Mr. Dreher has already been a great nuisance to Father, and I’ve always admired the saintly patience with which he handled this pathetic old man on the phone. When we were still living at home, Mother used to advise him to put a gramophone in front of the receiver, one that would repeat every three minutes, “Yes, Mr. Dreher” and “No, Mr. Dreher,” since the old man never understood a word of Father’s lengthy replies anyway.

  Today Mr. Dreher phoned the office and asked Mr. Kugler to come and see him. Mr. Kugler wasn’t in the mood and said he would send Miep, but Miep canceled the appointment. Mrs. Dreher called the office three times, but since Miep was reportedly out the entire afternoon, she had to imitate Bep’s voice. Downstairs in the office as well as upstairs in the Annex, there was great hilarity. Now each time the phone rings, Bep says “That’s Mrs. Dreher!” and Miep has to laugh, so that the people on the other end of the line are greeted with an impolite giggle. Can’t you just picture it? This has got to be the greatest office in the whole wide world. The bosses and the office girls have such fun together!

  Some evenings I go to the van Daans for a little chat. We eat “mothball cookies” (molasses cookies that were stored in a closet that was mothproofed) and have a good time. Recently the conversation was about Peter. I said that he often pats me on the cheek, which I don’t like. They asked me in a typically grown-up way whether I could ever learn to love Peter like a brother, since he loves me like a sister. “Oh, no!” I said, but what I was thinking was, “Oh, ugh!” Just imagine! I added that Peter’s a bit stiff, perhaps because he’s shy. Boys who aren’t used to being around girls are like that.

  I must say that the Annex Committee (the men’s section) is very creative. Listen to the scheme they’ve come up with to get a message to Mr. Broks, an Opekta Co. sales representative and friend who’s surreptitiously hidden some of our things for us! They’re going to type a letter to a store owner in southern Zeeland who is, indirectly, one of Opekta’s customers and ask him to fill out a form and send it back in the enclosed self-addressed envelope. Father will write the address on the envelope himself. Once the letter is returned from Zeeland, the form can be removed and a handwritten message confirming that Father is alive can be inserted in the envelope. This way Mr. Broks can read
the letter without suspecting a ruse. They chose the province of Zeeland because it’s close to Belgium (a letter can easily be smuggled across the border) and because no one is allowed to travel there without a special permit. An ordinary salesman like Mr. Broks would never be granted a permit.

  Yesterday Father put on another act. Groggy with sleep, he stumbled off to bed. His feet were cold, so I lent him my bed socks. Five minutes later he flung them to the floor. Then he pulled the blankets over his head because the light bothered him. The lamp was switched off, and he gingerly poked his head out from under the covers. It was all very amusing. We started talking about the fact that Peter says Margot is a “buttinsky.” Suddenly Daddy’s voice was heard from the depths: “Sits on her butt, you mean.”

  Mouschi, the cat, is becoming nicer to me as time goes by, but I’m still somewhat afraid of her.

  Yours, Anne


  Dearest Kitty,

  Mother and I had a so-called “discussion” today, but the annoying part is that I burst into tears. I can’t help it. Daddy is always nice to me, and he also understands me much better. At moments like these I can’t stand Mother. It’s obvious that I’m a stranger to her; she doesn’t even know what I think about the most ordinary things.

  We were talking about maids and the fact that you’re supposed to refer to them as “domestic help” these days. She claimed that when the war is over, that’s what they’ll want to be called. I didn’t quite see it that way. Then she added that I talk about “later” so often and that I act as if I were such a lady, even though I’m not, but I don’t think building sand castles in the air is such a terrible thing to do, as long as you don’t take it too seriously. At any rate, Daddy usually comes to my defense. Without him I wouldn’t be able to stick it out here.

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