Diary

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Anne has just turned thirteen, and she lists the birthday presents which she has received, including the diary, which she says is "possibly the nicest of all." She then gives us a brief description of her personal history, mentioning her birth in Frankfurt, Germany, the family, their emigration to Holland after Hitler's rise to power and his persecution of the Jews in Germany, the Nazi occupation of Holland, among the Nazis' occupation of other European countries, plus the various, severe restrictions imposed upon Jews there. Anne describes all this in a very matter-of-fact way, listing the sorts of things that Jews must and must not do: "Jews must hand in their bicycles, Jews are banned from trains and are forbidden to drive. Jews are only allowed to do their shopping between three and five o'clock, and then only in shops which bear the placard 'Jewish Shop,'" and so on. She points out, however, that "life went on in spite of it all," and "things were still bearable" (June 20, 1942). Thus, in the midst of persecution and restrictions, Anne still describes her feelings about boyfriends and about girl friends, about school and her teachers, and also describes meeting Peter Wessel, a boy whom she apparently was rather fond of (June 30, 1942).

Anne's father tells her that at some future date the family will have to go into hiding in order to avoid being sent to concentration camps; to Anne, this all seems to be vaguely distant. Yet, suddenly, less than one month after the diary begins, the family does suddenly have to go into hiding because Anne's older sister, Margot, has been summoned by the Nazis to be sent to a concentration camp. All Jews knew that the concentration camps were terrible places of imprisonment, although the full extent of what was actually done there was not yet known. And so, the family had no choice; they packed a few basic possessions into shopping bags, put on as many items of clothing as they could, made arrangements for their cat to be looked after, and they set off on foot-in the rain-for the "hiding place" that Anne's father had been arranging and preparing for some time.

Straightaway, Anne and her father set about arranging and tidying the place, while Anne's mother and Margot lie down on their beds, too tired and emotionally drained and miserable to help (July 9-10, 1942).

The process of settling in and arranging a daily routine takes up several pages of the diary. At first, the Franks are alone, and the strange situation strikes Anne as "more like being on vacation in a very peculiar boardinghouse" than like being in hiding (July 11, 1942). Fear is an ever-present reality, however, as Anne writes, "It is the silence that frightens me so in the evenings and at night . . . I can't tell you how oppressive it is never to be able to go outdoors. Also, I'm very afraid that we shall be discovered and be shot" (July 11, 1942).

Anne then describes her surroundings and the considerable precautions which the family must take not to be seen or heard by anyone other than their "protectors" — namely, the workers in the office downstairs.

The second family, the Van Daans arrive, bringing new faces into the little group but also new sources of irritation and conflict. Anne does not think very highly of young Peter Van Daan, who strikes her as being lazy, a hypochondriac, and boring. She is also shocked by the noisy quarrels between Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan, remarking rather self-righteously: "Mummy and Daddy would never dream of shouting at each other" (September 2, 1942).

Very perceptively, Anne describes the Van Daans' foibles and quirks. For example, Mrs. Van Daan is piqued that her dinner service — and not the Franks' — is put into communal use. Secretly, Anne knows, Mrs. Van Daan has removed three of her sheets from the collective linen cupboard. Mrs. Van Daan, who continually scolds Anne for her continuous chatter, also does her best to leave the washing up of the pots and pans for others to...
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