Anneliese Marie ‘Anne’ Frank (12
June 1929 - February/March
1945) was a German - born
Jewish girl who wrote while in
hiding with her family and four
friends in Amsterdam during the
German occupation of the
Netherlands in World War II. Her
family had moved to Amsterdam
after the Nazis gained power in
Germany but were trapped when
the Nazi occupation extended into
the Netherlands. As persecutions
against the Jewish population
increased, the family went into
hiding in July 1942 in hidden rooms in her father Otto Frank’s
office building. After two years in hiding, the group was betrayed
and transported to the concentration camp system where Anne died
of typhus in Bergen-Belsen within days of her sister, Margot Frank.
Her father, Otto, the only survivor of the group, returned to Amsterdam
after the war ended, to find that her diary had been saved. Convinced
that it was a unique record, he took action to have it published in
English under the name The Diary of a Young Girl.
The diary was given to Anne Frank for her thirteenth birthday
and chronicles the events of her life from 12 June 1942 until its
final entry of 1 August 1944. It was eventually translated from its
original Dutch into many languages and became one of the world’s
most widely read books. There have also been several films,
television and theatrical productions, and even an opera, based on
the diary. Described as the work of a mature and insightful mind,
the diary provides an intimate examination of daily life under Nazi
occupation. Anne Frank has become one of the most renowned and
discussed of the Holocaust victims.
Writing in a Diary
WRITING in a diary is a really strange experience for
someone like me. Not only because I’ve never written
anything before, but also because it seems to me
that later on neither I nor anyone else will be
interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old
schoolgirl. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. I feel like
writing, and I have an even greater need to get all
kinds of things off my chest.
‘Paper has more patience than people.’ I thought
of this saying on one of those days when I was feeling
a little depressed and was sitting at home with my
chin in my hands, bored and listless, wondering
whether to stay in or go out. I finally stayed where I
was, brooding: Yes, paper does have more patience,
and since I’m not planning to let anyone else read
this stiff-backed notebook grandly referred to as a
‘diary’, unless I should ever find a real friend, it
probably won’t make a bit of difference.
Now I’m back to the point that prompted me
to keep a diary in the first place: I don’t have a
Let me put it more clearly, since no one will
believe that a thirteen-year-old girl is completely
alone in the world. And I’m not. I have loving parents
and a sixteen-year-old sister, and there are about
thirty people I can call friends. I have a family,
loving aunts and a good home. No, on the surface I
seem to have everything, except my one true friend.
All I think about when I’m with friends is having a
good time. I can’t bring myself to talk about anything
but ordinary everyday things. We don’t seem to be
able to get any closer, and that’s the problem. Maybe
it’s my fault that we don’t confide in each other. In
any case, that’s just how things are, and
unfortunately they’re not liable to change. This is
why I’ve started the diary.
To enhance the image of this long-awaited friend
in my imagination, I don’t want to jot down the
facts in this diary the way most people would do,
but I want the diary to be my friend, and I’m going
to call this friend ‘Kitty’.
Since no one would understand a word of my
stories to Kitty if I were to plunge right in, I’d better
provide a brief sketch of my life, much as I dislike
My father, the most adorable father I’ve ever seen,
didn’t marry my mother until he was thirty-six and
she was twenty-five. My sister, Margot, was born
in Frankfurt in Germany in 1926. I was born on 12
June 1929. I lived in Frankfurt until I was four. My
father emigrated to Holland in 1933. My mother,
Edith Hollander Frank, went with him to Holland
in September, while Margot and I were sent to
Aachen to stay with our grandmother. Margot went
to Holland in December, and I followed in February,
when I was plunked down on the table as a birthday
present for Margot.
I started right away at the Montessori nursery
school. I stayed there until I was six, at which time
I started in the first form. In the sixth form my
teacher was Mrs Kuperus, the headmistress. At the
end of the year we were both in tears as we said a
In the summer of 1941 Grandma fell ill and had
to have an operation, so my birthday passed with
Grandma died in January 1942. No one knows
how often I think of her and still love her. This
birthday celebration in 1942 was intended to make
up for the other, and Grandma’s candle was lit along
with the rest.
The four of us are still doing well, and that brings
me to the present date of 20 June 1942, and the
solemn dedication of my diary.
Our entire class is quaking in its boots. The
reason, of course, is the forthcoming meeting in
which the teachers decide who’ll move up to the
next form and who’ll be kept back. Half the class is
making bets. G.N. and I laugh ourselves silly at the
two boys behind us, C.N. and Jacques, who have
staked their entire holiday savings on their bet.
From morning to night, it’s “You’re going to pass”,
“No, I’m not”, “Yes, you are”, “No, I’m not”. Even G.’s
pleading glances and my angry outbursts can’t calm
them down. If you ask me, there are so many
dummies that about a quarter of the class should
be kept back, but teachers are the most
unpredictable creatures on earth.
I’m not so worried about my girlfriends and
myself. We’ll make it. The only subject I’m not sure
about is maths. Anyway, all we can do is wait. Until
then, we keep telling each other not to lose heart.
I get along pretty well with all my teachers. There
are nine of them, seven men and two women. Mr
Keesing, the old fogey who teaches maths, was
annoyed with me for ages because I talked so much.
After several warnings, he assigned me extra
homework. An essay on the subject, ‘A Chatterbox’.
A chatterbox - what can you write about that? I’d
worry about that later, I decided. I jotted down the
title in my notebook, tucked it in my bag and tried
to keep quiet.
That evening, after I’d finished the rest of my
homework, the note about the essay caught my eye.
I began thinking about the subject while chewing
the tip of my fountain pen. Anyone could ramble on
and leave big spaces between the words, but the
trick was to come up with convincing arguments to
prove the necessity of talking. I thought and
thought, and suddenly I had an idea. I wrote the
three pages Mr Keesing had assigned me and was
satisfied. I argued that talking is a student’s trait
and that I would do my best to keep it under control,
but that I would never be able to cure myself of the
habit since my mother talked as much as I did if
not more, and that there’s not much you can do
about inherited traits.
Mr Keesing had a good laugh at my arguments,
but when I proceeded to talk my way through the
next lesson, he assigned me a second essay. This
time it was supposed to be on ‘An Incorrigible
Chatterbox’. I handed it in, and Mr Keesing had
nothing to complain about for two whole lessons.
However, during the third lesson he’d finally had
enough. “Anne Frank, as punishment for talking in
class, write an essay entitled - ‘Quack, Quack,
Quack, Said Mistress Chatterbox’.”
The class roared. I had to laugh too, though I’d
nearly exhausted my ingenuity on the topic of
chatterboxes. It was time to come up with
something else, something original. My friend,
Sanne, who’s good at poetry, offered to help me write
the essay from beginning to end in verse and I
jumped for joy. Mr Keesing was trying to play a
joke on me with this ridiculous subject, but I’d make
sure the joke was on him.
I finished my poem, and it was beautiful! It was
about a mother duck and a father swan with three
baby ducklings who were bitten to death by the
father because they quacked too much. Luckily, Mr
Keesing took the joke the right way. He read the
poem to the class, adding his own comments, and
to several other classes as well. Since then I’ve been
allowed to talk and haven’t been assigned any extra
homework. On the contrary, Mr Keesing’s always
making jokes these days.
Every child feels that she/he is controlled and instructed not to do
one thing or another. You too may feel that your freedom is curtailed.
Write down some of the things you want to do, but your parents/
elders do not allow you to. To read the poem aloud, form pairs,
each reading alternate stanzas. You are in for a surprise!
Don’t bite your nails, Amanda!
Don’t hunch your shoulders, Amanda!
Stop that slouching and sit up straight,
(There is a languid, emerald sea,
where the sole inhabitant is me-
a mermaid, drifting blissfully.)
Did you finish your homework, Amanda?
Did you tidy your room, Amanda?
I thought I told you to clean your shoes,
(I am an orphan, roaming the street.
I pattern soft dust with my hushed, bare feet.
The silence is golden, the freedom is sweet.)
Don’t eat that chocolate, Amanda!
Remember your acne, Amanda!
Will you please look at me when I’m speaking to you,