The diary of a young gir.., p.9
The Diary of a Young Girl, p.9Anne Frank
“I’m sure they haven’t stolen Peter. Stop being such a ninny, and let me get back to sleep!”
Impossible. Mrs. van D. was too scared to sleep.
A few nights later the entire van Daan family was awakened by ghostly noises. Peter went to the attic with a flashlight and—scurry, scurry—what do you think he saw running away? A whole slew of enormous rats!
Once we knew who the thieves were, we let Mouschi sleep in the attic and never saw our uninvited guests again … at least not at night.
A few evenings ago (it was seven-thirty and still light), Peter went up to the loft to get some old newspapers. He had to hold on tightly to the trapdoor to climb down the ladder. He put down his hand without looking, and nearly fell off the ladder from shock and pain. Without realizing it, he’d put his hand on a large rat, which had bitten him in the arm. By the time he reached us, white as a sheet and with his knees knocking, the blood had soaked through his pajamas. No wonder he was so shaken—petting a rat isn’t much fun, especially when it takes a chunk out of your arm.
FRIDAY, MARCH 12, 1943
May I introduce: Mama Frank, the children’s advocate! Extra butter for the youngsters, the problems facing today’s youth—you name it, and Mother defends the younger generation. After a skirmish or two, she always gets her way.
One of the jars of pickled tongue is spoiled. A feast for Mouschi and Boche.
You haven’t met Boche yet, despite the fact that she was here before we went into hiding. She’s the warehouse and office cat, who keeps the rats at bay in the storeroom. Her odd, political name can easily be explained. For a while the firm Gies & Co. had two cats: one for the warehouse and one for the attic. Their paths crossed from time to time, which invariably resulted in a fight. The warehouse cat was always the aggressor, while the attic cat was ultimately the victor, just as in politics. So the warehouse cat was named the German, or “Boche,” and the attic cat the Englishman, or “Tommy.” Sometime after that they got rid of Tommy, but Boche is always there to amuse us when we go downstairs.
We’ve eaten so many brown beans and navy beans that I can’t stand to look at them. Just thinking about them makes me sick.
Our evening serving of bread has been canceled.
Daddy just said that he’s not in a very cheerful mood. His eyes look so sad again, the poor man!
I can’t tear myself away from the book A Knock at the Door by Ina Bakker Boudier. This family saga is extremely well written, but the parts dealing with war, writers and the emancipation of women aren’t very good. To be honest, these subjects don’t interest me much.
Terrible bombing raids on Germany. Mr. van Daan is grouchy. The reason: the cigarette shortage.
The debate about whether or not to start eating the canned food ended in our favor.
I can’t wear any of my shoes, except my ski boots, which are not very practical around the house. A pair of straw thongs that were purchased for 6.50 guilders were worn down to the soles within a week. Maybe Miep will be able to scrounge up something on the black market.
It’s time to cut Father’s hair. Pim swears that I do such a good job he’ll never go to another barber after the war. If only I didn’t nick his ear so often!
THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 1943
My dearest Kitty,
Turkey’s entered the war. Great excitement. Anxiously awaiting radio reports.
FRIDAY, MARCH 19, 1943
In less than an hour, joy was followed by disappointment. Turkey hasn’t entered the war yet. It was only a cabinet minister talking about Turkey giving up its neutrality sometime soon. The newspaper vendor in Dam Square was shouting “Turkey on England’s side!” and the papers were being snatched out of his hands. This was how we’d heard the encouraging rumor.
Thousand-guilder notes are being declared invalid. That’ll be a blow to the black marketeers and others like them, but even more to people in hiding and anyone else with money that can’t be accounted for. To turn in a thousand-guilder bill, you have to be able to state how you came by it and provide proof. They can still be used to pay taxes, but only until next week. The five-hundred notes will lapse at the same time. Gies & Co. still had some unaccounted-for thousand-guilder bills, which they used to pay their estimated taxes for the coming years, so everything seems to be aboveboard.
Dussel has received an old-fashioned, foot-operated dentist’s drill. That means I’ll probably be getting a thorough checkup soon.
Dussel is terribly lax when it comes to obeying the rules of the house. Not only does he write letters to his Charlotte, he’s also carrying on a chatty correspondence with various other people. Margot, the Annex’s Dutch teacher, has been correcting these letters for him. Father has forbidden him to keep up the practice and Margot has stopped correcting the letters, but I think it won’t be long before he starts up again.
The Führer has been talking to wounded soldiers. We listened on the radio, and it was pathetic. The questions and answers went something like this:
“My name is Heinrich Scheppel.”
“Where were you wounded?”
“What kind of wound is it?”
“Two frostbitten feet and a fracture of the left arm.”
This is an exact report of the hideous puppet show aired on the radio. The wounded seemed proud of their wounds—the more the better. One was so beside himself at the thought of shaking hands (I presume he still had one) with the Führer that he could barely say a word.
I happened to drop Dussel’s soap on the floor and step on it. Now there’s a whole piece missing. I’ve already asked Father to compensate him for the damages, especially since Dussel only gets one bar of inferior wartime soap a month.
THURSDAY, MARCH 25, 1943
Mother, Father, Margot and I were sitting quite pleasantly together last night when Peter suddenly came in and whispered in Father’s ear. I caught the words “a barrel falling over in the warehouse” and “someone fiddling with the door.”
Margot heard it too, but was trying to calm me down, since I’d turned white as chalk and was extremely nervous. The three of us waited while Father and Peter went downstairs. A minute or two later Mrs. van Daan came up from where she’d been listening to the radio and told us that Pim had asked her to turn it off and tiptoe upstairs. But you know what happens when you’re trying to be quiet—the old stairs creaked twice as loud. Five minutes later Peter and Pim, the color drained from their faces, appeared again to relate their experiences.
They had positioned themselves under the staircase and waited. Nothing happened. Then all of a sudden they heard a couple of bangs, as if two doors had been slammed shut inside the house. Pim bounded up the stairs, while Peter went to warn Dussel, who finally presented himself upstairs, though not without kicking up a fuss and making a lot of noise. Then we all tiptoed in our stockinged feet to the van Daans on the next floor. Mr. van D. had a bad cold and had already gone to bed, so we gathered around his bedside and discussed our suspicions in a whisper. Every time Mr. van D. coughed loudly, Mrs. van D. and I nearly had a nervous fit. He kept coughing until someone came up with the bright idea of giving him codeine. His cough subsided immediately.
Once again we waited and waited, but heard nothing. Finally we came to the conclusion that the burglars had taken to their heels when they heard footsteps in an otherwise quiet building. The problem now was that the chairs in the private office were neatly grouped around the radio, which was tuned to England. If the burglars had forced the door and the air-raid wardens were to notice it and call the police, there could be very serious repercussions. So Mr. van Daan got up, pulled on his coat and pants, put on his hat and cautiously followed Father down the stairs, with Peter (armed with a heavy hammer, to be on the safe side) right behind him. The ladies (including Mar
Incidents like these are always accompanied by other disasters, and this was no exception. Number one: the Westertoren bells stopped chiming, and I’d always found them so comforting. Number two: Mr. Voskuijl left early last night, and we weren’t sure if he’d given Bep the key and she’d forgotten to lock the door.
But that was of little importance now. The night had just begun, and we still weren’t sure what to expect. We were somewhat reassured by the fact that between eight-fifteen—when the burglar had first entered the building and put our lives in jeopardy—and ten-thirty, we hadn’t heard a sound. The more we thought about it, the less likely it seemed that a burglar would have forced a door so early in the evening, when there were still people out on the streets. Besides that, it occurred to us that the warehouse manager at the Keg Company next door might still have been at work. What with the excitement and the thin walls, it’s easy to mistake the sounds. Besides, your imagination often plays tricks on you in moments of danger.
So we went to bed, though not to sleep. Father and Mother and Mr. Dussel were awake most of the night, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I hardly got a wink of sleep. This morning the men went downstairs to see if the outside door was still locked, but all was well!
Of course, we gave the entire office staff a blow-by-blow account of the incident, which had been far from pleasant. It’s much easier to laugh at these kinds of things after they’ve happened, and Bep was the only one who took us seriously.
PS. This morning the toilet was clogged, and Father had to stick in a long wooden pole and fish out several pounds of excrement and strawberry recipes (which is what we use for toilet paper these days). Afterward we burned the pole.
SATURDAY, MARCH 27, 1943
We’ve finished our shorthand course and are now working on improving our speed. Aren’t we smart! Let me tell you more about my “time killers” (this is what I call my courses, because all we ever do is try to make the days go by as quickly as possible so we’re that much closer to the end of our time here). I adore mythology, especially the Greek and Roman gods. Everyone here thinks my interest is just a passing fancy, since they’ve never heard of a teenager with an appreciation of mythology. Well then, I guess I’m the first!
Mr. van Daan has a cold. Or rather, he has a scratchy throat, but he’s making an enormous to-do over it. He gargles with camomile tea, coats the roof of his mouth with a tincture of myrrh and rubs Mentholatum over his chest, nose, gums and tongue. And to top it off, he’s in a foul mood!
Rauter, some German bigwig, recently gave a speech. “All Jews must be out of the German-occupied territories before July 1. The province of Utrecht will be cleansed of Jews [as if they were cockroaches] between April 1 and May 1, and the provinces of North and South Holland between May 1 and June 1.” These poor people are being shipped off to filthy slaughterhouses like a herd of sick and neglected cattle. But I’ll say no more on the subject. My own thoughts give me nightmares!
One good piece of news is that the Labor Exchange was set on fire in an act of sabotage. A few days later the County Clerk’s Office also went up in flames. Men posing as German police bound and gagged the guards and managed to destroy some important documents.
THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 1943
I’m not really in the mood for pranks (see the date). On the contrary, today I can safely quote the saying “Misfortunes never come singly.”
First, Mr. Kleiman, our merry sunshine, had another bout of gastrointestinal hemorrhaging yesterday and will have to stay in bed for at least three weeks. I should tell you that his stomach has been bothering him quite a bit, and there’s no cure. Second, Bep has the flu. Third, Mr. Voskuijl has to go to the hospital next week. He probably has an ulcer and will have to undergo surgery. Fourth, the managers of Pomosin Industries came from Frankfurt to discuss the new Opekta deliveries. Father had gone over the important points with Mr. Kleiman, and there wasn’t enough time to give Mr. Kugler a thorough briefing.
The gentlemen arrived from Frankfurt, and Father was already shaking at the thought of how the talks would go. “If only I could be there, if only I were downstairs,” he exclaimed.
“Go lie down with your ear to the floor. They’ll be brought to the private office, and you’ll be able to hear everything.”
Father’s face cleared, and yesterday morning at ten-thirty Margot and Pim (two ears are better than one) took up their posts on the floor. By noon the talks weren’t finished, but Father was in no shape to continue his listening campaign. He was in agony from having to lie for hours in such an unusual and uncomfortable position. At two-thirty we heard voices in the hall, and I took his place; Margot kept me company. The conversation was so long-winded and boring that I suddenly fell asleep on the cold, hard linoleum. Margot didn’t dare touch me for fear they’d hear us, and of course she couldn’t shout. I slept for a good half hour and then awoke with a start, having forgotten every word of the important discussion. Luckily, Margot had paid more attention.
FRIDAY, APRIL 2, 1943
Oh my, another item has been added to my list of sins. Last night I was lying in bed, waiting for Father to tuck me in and say my prayers with me, when Mother came into the room, sat on my bed and asked very gently, “Anne, Daddy isn’t ready. How about if I listen to your prayers tonight?”
“No, Momsy,” I replied.
Mother got up, stood beside my bed for a moment and then slowly walked toward the door. Suddenly she turned, her face contorted with pain, and said, “I don’t want to be angry with you. I can’t make you love me!” A few tears slid down her cheeks as she went out the door.
I lay still, thinking how mean it was of me to reject her so cruelly, but I also knew that I was incapable of answering her any other way. I can’t be a hypocrite and pray with her when I don’t feel like it. It just doesn’t work that way. I felt sorry for Mother—very, very sorry—because for the first time in my life I noticed she wasn’t indifferent to my coldness. I saw the sorrow in her face when she talked about not being able to make me love her. It’s hard to tell the truth, and yet the truth is that she’s the one who’s rejected me. She’s the one whose tactless comments and cruel jokes about matters I don’t think are funny have made me insensitive to any sign of love on her part. Just as my heart sinks every time I hear her harsh words, that’s how her heart sank when she realized there was no more love between us.
She cried half the night and didn’t get any sleep. Father has avoided looking at me, and if his eyes do happen to cross mine, I can read his unspoken words: “How can you be so unkind? How dare you make your mother so sad!”
Everyone expects me to apologize, but this is not something I can apologize for, because I told the truth, and sooner or later Mother was bound to find out anyway. I seem to be indifferent to Mother’s tears and Father’s glances, and I am, because both of them are now feeling what I’ve always felt. I can only feel sorry for Mother, who will have to figure out what her attitude should be all by herself. For my part, I will continue to remain silent and aloof, and I don’t intend to shrink from the truth, because the longer it’s postponed, the harder it will be for them to accept it when they do hear it!
TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 1943
The house is still trembling from the aftereffects of the quarrels. Everyone is mad at everyone else: Mother and I, Mr. van Daan and Father, Mother and Mrs. van D. Terrific atmosphere, don’t you think? Once again Anne’s usual list of shortcomings has been extensivel
Our German visitors were back last Saturday. They stayed until six. We all sat upstairs, not daring to move an inch. If there’s no one else working in the building or in the neighborhood, you can hear every single step in the private office. I’ve got ants in my pants again from having to sit still so long.
Mr. Voskuijl has been hospitalized, but Mr. Kleiman’s back at the office. His stomach stopped bleeding sooner than it normally does. He told us that the County Clerk’s Office took an extra beating because the firemen flooded the entire building instead of just putting out the fire. That does my heart good!
The Carlton Hotel has been destroyed. Two British planes loaded with firebombs landed right on top of the German Officers’ Club. The entire corner of Vijzelstraat and Singel has gone up in flames. The number of air strikes on German cities is increasing daily. We haven’t had a good night’s rest in ages, and I have bags under my eyes from lack of sleep.
Our food is terrible. Breakfast consists of plain, unbuttered bread and ersatz coffee. For the last two weeks lunch has been either spinach or cooked lettuce with huge potatoes that have a rotten, sweetish taste. If you’re trying to diet, the Annex is the place to be! Upstairs they complain bitterly, but we don’t think it’s such a tragedy.
All the Dutch men who either fought or were mobilized in 1940 have been called up to work in prisoner-of-war camps. I bet they’re taking this precaution because of the invasion!
SATURDAY, MAY 1, 1943
Yesterday was Dussel’s birthday. At first he acted as if he didn’t want to celebrate it, but when Miep arrived with a large shopping bag overflowing with gifts, he was as excited as a little kid. His darling “Lotje” has sent him eggs, butter, cookies, lemonade, bread, cognac, spice cake, flowers, oranges, chocolate, books and writing paper. He piled his presents on a table and displayed them for no fewer than three days, the silly old goat!
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