The diary of a young gir.., p.7
The Diary of a Young Girl, p.7Anne Frank
I think it’s odd that he doesn’t jump at our proposal. If they pick him up on the street, it won’t help either his records or his patients, so why the delay? If you ask me, it’s stupid of Father to humor him.
Otherwise, no news.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1942
Mr. Dussel has arrived. Everything went smoothly. Miep told him to be at a certain place in front of the post office at 11 A.M., when a man would meet him, and he was at the appointed place at the appointed time. Mr. Kleiman went up to him, announced that the man he was expecting to meet was unable to come and asked him to drop by the office to see Miep. Mr. Kleiman took a streetcar back to the office while Mr. Dussel followed on foot.
It was eleven-twenty when Mr. Dussel tapped on the office door. Miep asked him to remove his coat, so the yellow star couldn’t be seen, and brought him to the private office, where Mr. Kleiman kept him occupied until the cleaning lady had gone. On the pretext that the private office was needed for something else, Miep took Mr. Dussel upstairs, opened the bookcase and stepped inside, while Mr. Dussel looked on in amazement.
In the meantime, the seven of us had seated ourselves around the dining table to await the latest addition to our family with coffee and cognac. Miep first led him into the Frank family’s room. He immediately recognized our furniture, but had no idea we were upstairs, just above his head. When Miep told him, he was so astonished he nearly fainted. Thank goodness she didn’t leave him in suspense any longer, but brought him upstairs. Mr. Dussel sank into a chair and stared at us in dumbstruck silence, as though he thought he could read the truth on our faces. Then he stuttered, “Aber … but are you nicht in Belgium? The officer, the auto, they were not coming? Your escape was not working?”
We explained the whole thing to him, about how we’d deliberately spread the rumor of the officer and the car to throw the Germans and anyone else who might come looking for us off the track. Mr. Dussel was speechless in the face of such ingenuity, and could do nothing but gaze around in surprise as he explored the rest of our lovely and ultrapractical Annex. We all had lunch together. Then he took a short nap, joined us for tea, put away the few belongings Miep had been able to bring here in advance and began to feel much more at home. Especially when we handed him the following typewritten rules and regulations for the Secret Annex (a van Daan production):
PROSPECTUS AND GUIDE TO THE SECRET ANNEX
A Unique Facility for the Temporary Accommodation of Jews and Other Dispossessed Persons
Open all year round: Located in beautiful, quiet, wooded surroundings in the heart of Amsterdam. No private residences in the vicinity. Can be reached by streetcar 13 or 17 and also by car and bicycle. For those to whom such transportation has been forbidden by the German authorities, it can also be reached on foot. Furnished and unfurnished rooms and apartments are available at all times, with or without meals.
Running water in the bathroom (sorry, no bath) and on various inside and outside walls. Cozy wood stoves for heating.
Ample storage space for a variety of goods. Two large, modern safes.
Private radio with a direct line to London, New York, Tel Aviv and many other stations. Available to all residents after 6 P.M. NO listening to forbidden broadcasts, with certain exceptions, i.e., German stations may only be tuned in to listen to classical music. It is absolutely forbidden to listen to German news bulletins (regardless of where they are transmitted from) and to pass them on to others.
Rest hours: From 10 P.M. to 7:30 A.M.; 10:15 A.M. on Sundays. Owing to circumstances, residents are required to observe rest hours during the daytime when instructed to do so by the Management. To ensure the safety of all, rest hours must be strictly observed!!!
Free-time activities: None allowed outside the house until further notice.
Use of language: It is necessary to speak softly at all times. Only the language of civilized people may be spoken, thus no German.
Reading and relaxation: No German books may be read, except for the classics and works of a scholarly nature. Other books are optional.
Singing: Only softly, and after 6 P.M.
Movies: Prior arrangements required.
Classes: A weekly correspondence course in shorthand. Courses in English, French, math and history offered at any hour of the day or night. Payment in the form of tutoring, e.g., Dutch.
Separate department for the care of small household pets (with the exception of vermin, for which special permits are required).
Breakfast: At 9 A.M. daily except holidays and Sundays; at approximately 11:30 A.M. on Sundays and holidays.
Lunch: A light meal. From 1:15 P.M. to 1:45 P.M.
Dinner: May or may not be a hot meal. Mealtime depends on news broadcasts.
Obligations with respect to the Supply Corps: Residents must be prepared to help with office work at all times.
Baths: The washtub is available to all residents after 9 A.M. on Sundays. Residents may bathe in the bathroom, kitchen, private office or front office, as they choose.
Alcohol: For medicinal purposes only.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1942
Just as we thought, Mr. Dussel is a very nice man. Of course he didn’t mind sharing a room with me; to be honest, I’m not exactly delighted at having a stranger use my things, but you have to make sacrifices for a good cause, and I’m glad I can make this small one. “If we can save even one of our friends, the rest doesn’t matter,” said Father, and he’s absolutely right.
The first day Mr. Dussel was here, he asked me all sorts of questions—for example, what time the cleaning lady comes to the office, how we’ve arranged to use the washroom and when we’re allowed to go to the toilet. You may laugh, but these things aren’t so easy in a hiding place. During the daytime we can’t make any noise that might be heard downstairs, and when someone else is there, like the cleaning lady, we have to be extra careful. I patiently explained all this to Mr. Dussel, but I was surprised to see how slow he is to catch on. He asks everything twice and still can’t remember what you’ve told him.
Maybe he’s just confused by the sudden change and he’ll get over it. Otherwise, everything is going fine.
Mr. Dussel has told us much about the outside world we’ve missed for so long. He had sad news. Countless friends and acquaintances have been taken off to a dreadful fate. Night after night, green and gray military vehicles cruise the streets. They knock on every door, asking whether any Jews live there. If so, the whole family is immediately taken away. If not, they proceed to the next house. It’s impossible to escape their clutches unless you go into hiding. They often go around with lists, knocking only on those doors where they know there’s a big haul to be made. They frequently offer a bounty, so much per head. It’s like the slave hunts of the olden days. I don’t mean to make light of this; it’s much too tragic for that. In the evenings when it’s dark, I often see long lines of good, innocent people, accompanied by crying children, walking on and on, ordered about by a handful of men who bully and beat them until they nearly drop. No one is spared. The sick, the elderly, children, babies and pregnant women—all are marched to their death.
We’re so fortunate here, away from the turmoil. We wouldn’t have to give a moment’s thought to all this suffering if it weren’t for the fact that we’re so worried about those we hold dear, whom we can no longer help. I feel wicked sleeping in a warm bed, while somewhere out there my dearest friends are dropping from exhaustion or being knocked to the ground.
I get frightened myself when I think of close friends who are now at the mercy of the cruelest monsters ever to stalk the earth.
And all because they’re Jews.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1942
We don’t really know how to react. Up to now very little news about the Jews had reached us here, and we thought it best to stay as cheerful as possible. Every now and then Miep used to mention what had happened to a friend, and Mother or Mrs. van Daan would start to cry, so she decided it was better not to say any more. But we bombarded Mr. Dussel with questions, and the stories he had to tell were so gruesome and dreadful that we can’t get them out of our heads. Once we’ve had time to digest the news, we’ll probably go back to our usual joking and teasing. It won’t do us or those outside any good if we continue to be as gloomy as we are now. And what would be the point of turning the Secret Annex into a Melancholy Annex?
No matter what I’m doing, I can’t help thinking about those who are gone. I catch myself laughing and remember that it’s a disgrace to be so cheerful. But am I supposed to spend the whole day crying? No, I can’t do that. This gloom will pass.
Added to this misery there’s another, but of a more personal nature, and it pales in comparison to the suffering I’ve just told you about. Still, I can’t help telling you that lately I’ve begun to feel deserted. I’m surrounded by too great a void. I never used to give it much thought, since my mind was filled with my friends and having a good time. Now I think either about unhappy things or about myself. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally realized that Father, no matter how kind he may be, can’t take the place of my former world. When it comes to my feelings, Mother and Margot ceased to count long ago.
But why do I bother you with this foolishness? I’m terribly ungrateful, Kitty, I know, but when I’ve been scolded for the umpteenth time and have all these other woes to think about as well, my head begins to reel!
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 1942
We’ve been using too much electricity and have now exceeded our ration. The result: excessive economy and the prospect of having the electricity cut off. No light for fourteen days; that’s a pleasant thought, isn’t it? But who knows, maybe it won’t be so long! It’s too dark to read after four or four-thirty, so we while away the time with all kinds of crazy activities: telling riddles, doing calisthenics in the dark, speaking English or French, reviewing books—after a while everything gets boring. Yesterday I discovered a new pastime: using a good pair of binoculars to peek into the lighted rooms of the neighbors. During the day our curtains can’t be opened, not even an inch, but there’s no harm when it’s so dark.
I never knew that neighbors could be so interesting. Ours are, at any rate. I’ve come across a few at dinner, one family making home movies and the dentist across the way working on a frightened old lady.
Mr. Dussel, the man who was said to get along so well with children and to absolutely adore them, has turned out to be an old-fashioned disciplinarian and preacher of unbearably long sermons on manners. Since I have the singular pleasure (!) of sharing my far too narrow room with His Excellency, and since I’m generally considered to be the worst behaved of the three young people, it’s all I can do to avoid having the same old scoldings and admonitions repeatedly flung at my head and to pretend not to hear. This wouldn’t be so bad if Mr. Dussel weren’t such a tattletale and hadn’t singled out Mother to be the recipient of his reports. If Mr. Dussel’s just read me the riot act, Mother lectures me all over again, this time throwing the whole book at me. And if I’m really lucky, Mrs. van D. calls me to account five minutes later and lays down the law as well!
Really, it’s not easy being the badly brought-up center of attention of a family of nitpickers.
In bed at night, as I ponder my many sins and exaggerated shortcomings, I get so confused by the sheer amount of things I have to consider that I either laugh or cry, depending on my mood. Then I fall asleep with the strange feeling of wanting to be different than I am or being different than I want to be, or perhaps of behaving differently than I am or want to be.
Oh dear, now I’m confusing you too. Forgive me, but I don’t like crossing things out, and in these times of scarcity, tossing away a piece of paper is clearly taboo. So I can only advise you not to reread the above passage and to make no attempt to get to the bottom of it, because you’ll never find your way out again!
MONDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1942
Hanukkah and St. Nicholas Day nearly coincided this year; they were only one day apart. We didn’t make much of a fuss with Hanukkah, merely exchanging a few small gifts and lighting the candles. Since candles are in short supply, we lit them for only ten minutes, but as long as we sing the song, that doesn’t matter. Mr. van Daan made a menorah out of wood, so that was taken care of too.
St. Nicholas Day on Saturday was much more fun. During dinner Bep and Miep were so busy whispering to Father that our curiosity was aroused and we suspected they were up to something. Sure enough, at eight o’clock we all trooped downstairs through the hall in pitch darkness (it gave me the shivers, and I wished I was safely back upstairs!) to the alcove. We could switch on the light, since this room doesn’t have any windows. When that was done, Father opened the big cabinet.
“Oh, how wonderful!” we all cried.
In the corner was a large basket decorated with colorful paper and a mask of Black Peter.
We quickly took the basket upstairs with us. Inside was a little gift for everyone, including an appropriate verse. Since you’re familiar with the kinds of poems people write each other on St. Nicholas Day, I won’t copy them down for you.
I received a Kewpie doll, Father got bookends, and so on. Well anyway, it was a nice idea, and since the eight of us had never celebrated St. Nicholas Day before, this was a good time to begin.
PS. We also had presents for everyone downstairs, a few things left over from the Good Old Days; plus Miep and Bep are always grateful for money.
Today we heard that Mr. van Daan’s ashtray, Mr. Dussel’s picture frame and Father’s bookends were made by none other than Mr. Voskuijl. How anyone can be so clever with his hands is a mystery to me!
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1942
Mr. van Daan used to be in the meat, sausage and spice business. He was hired for his knowledge of spices, and yet, to our great delight, it’s his sausage talents that have come in handy now.
We ordered a large amount of meat (under the counter, of course) that we were planning to preserve in case there were hard times ahead. Mr. van Daan decided to make bratwurst, sausages and mettwurst. I had fun watching him put the meat through the grinder: once, twice, three times. Then he added the remaining ingredients to the ground meat and used a long pipe to force the mixture into the casings. We ate the bratwurst with sauerkraut for lunch, but the sausages, which were going to be canned, had to dry first, so we hung them over a pole suspended from the ceiling. Everyone who came into the room burst into laughter when they saw the dangling sausages. It was such a comical sight.
The kitchen was a shambles. Mr. van Daan, clad in his wife’s apron and looking fatter than ever, was working away at the meat. What with his bloody hands, red face and spotted apron, he looked like a real butcher. Mrs. van D. was trying to do everything at once: learning Dutch out of a book, stirring the soup, watching the meat, sighing and moaning about her broken rib. That’s what happens when old (!) ladies do such stupid exercises to get rid of their fat behinds! Dussel had an eye infection and was sitting next to the stove dabbing his eye with camomile tea. Pim, seated in the one ray of sunshine coming through the window, kept having to move his chair this way and that to stay out of the way. His rheumatism must have been bothering him because he was slightly hunched over and was keeping an eye on Mr. van Daan with an agonized expression on his face. He reminded me of those aged invalids you see in the poor-house. Peter was romping around the room with Mouschi, the cat, while Mother, Margot and I were peeling boiled potatoes. When you get right down to it, none of us were doing
Dussel has opened his dental practice. Just for fun, I’ll describe the session with his very first patient.
Mother was ironing, and Mrs. van D., the first victim, sat down on a chair in the middle of the room. Dussel, unpacking his case with an air of importance, asked for some eau de cologne, which could be used as a disinfectant, and vaseline, which would have to do for wax. He looked in Mrs. van D.’s mouth and found two teeth that made her wince with pain and utter incoherent cries every time he touched them. After a lengthy examination (lengthy as far as Mrs. van D. was concerned, since it actually took no longer than two minutes), Dussel began to scrape out a cavity. But Mrs. van D. had no intention of letting him. She flailed her arms and legs until Dussel finally let go of his probe and … it remained stuck in Mrs. van D.’s tooth. That really did it! Mrs. van D. lashed out wildly in all directions, cried (as much as you can with an instrument like that in your mouth), tried to remove it, but only managed to push it in even farther. Mr. Dussel calmly observed the scene, his hands on his hips, while the rest of the audience roared with laughter. Of course, that was very mean of us. If it’d been me, I’m sure I would have yelled even louder. After a great deal of squirming, kicking, screaming and shouting, Mrs. van D. finally managed to yank the thing out, and Mr. Dussel went on with his work as if nothing had happened. He was so quick that Mrs. van D. didn’t have time to pull any more shenanigans. But then, he had more help than he’s ever had before: no fewer than two assistants; Mr. van D. and I performed our job well. The whole scene resembled one of those engravings from the Middle Ages entitled “A Quack at Work.” In the meantime, however, the patient was getting restless, since she had to keep an eye on “her” soup and “her” food. One thing is certain: it’ll be a while before Mrs. van D. makes another dental appointment!
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