Diary of a Young Girl
June 12, 1942–June 24, 1942
I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.
Anne Frank begins her diary with the hope that she will be able to reveal everything to it, since she feels that she has never truly been able to confide in anyone. She tells the story of how she acquired the diary on Friday, June 12, her thirteenth birthday. Anne wakes up at six in the morning and waits until seven to open her presents. One of the presents is the new diary. Afterward, Anne’s friend Hanneli picks her up for school. Anne goes to gym with the other students, although she is not able to participate because her shoulders and hips dislocate too easily. She returns home at five in the afternoon. She describes several of her friends—Hanneli, Sanne, and Jacqueline—whom she has met at the Jewish Lyceum, the local school for Jewish children.
Anne writes about her birthday party on Sunday and continues to describe her classmates. She believes that “paper is more patient than people” and feels that she does not have any true friends and confidants. She has a loving family and many people she could call friends or admirers, but she cannot confide in any of them.
Anne then provides a brief overview of her childhood. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1929. Her family moved to Holland in 1933 because they were Jewish and her father found a job at a Dutch chemical company. Anne went to a Montessori nursery school and then went on to the Jewish Lyceum.
Anne says that her family’s lives are somewhat anxious, especially since they have relatives still living in Germany. Her two uncles fled to North America, and her grandmother came to Holland to live with Anne’s family. After 1940, the Nazis occupied Holland and instituted restrictive laws forcing Jews to wear yellow stars to identify themselves. The Germans forced the Jews to turn in their bicycles and shop only during certain hours. Jews were also restricted from riding streetcars, going outside at night, visiting Christian homes, and attending most schools. Anne’s grandmother died in 1942, in the midst of this difficult time.
Anne starts addressing her diary as “Kitty” and writes that she and her friends have started a Ping-Pong club. After playing Ping-Pong, the girls go to the nearest ice cream shop that permits Jews, and they let admirers buy them ice cream. Anne complains that she knows boys will become enamored with her right away when she lets them bicycle home with her, so she tries to ignore them. Anne tells Kitty that her entire class is “quaking in their boots” and waiting to hear who will be promoted to the next grade. She is not worried about any subject except math, because in math class she was punished for talking too much. Anne adds that after she wrote a few funny essays on her punishment, the teacher began joking along with her.
Anne notes that it is hot and realizes what a luxury it is to ride in a streetcar, since Jews cannot use them anymore. The ferryman lets them ride the ferry, and Anne says that it is not the fault of the Dutch that the Jews are being persecuted. She tells her diary that a boy, Hello Silberberg, approached her and that they have started to see each other more often.
Despite the ominous circumstances for Jews in the Netherlands, Anne’s interests are typical for a thirteen-year-old girl from a stable, middle-class family. She mentions the Jewish Lyceum casually, not dwelling on the laws that prevent Jews from attending other schools. Her carefree tone of voice and the topics she explores, such as friendship and gym class, show that she and many other Jews have adapted to their adverse situation without focusing on the difficulties or fears that they face.
Anne’s worries about not having enough friends and not getting along well with her mother show that she is a typical adolescent, even in the face of danger. She does not think too much about the war or about her fear of being arrested by the Gestapo. Instead, she focuses on the details of what is happening at school and in her family. When she begins a diary entry with “our entire class is quaking in its boots,” we immediately assume that something drastic has occurred because of the Germans and that everyone in the class is afraid. However, Anne is just referring to a mundane school matter. Her diary entries suggest that she is living her life from moment to moment and is deeply enmeshed in her social and educational world.
Anne’s diary entries tell us much about her character. From the very beginning, we see that Anne is confident, thoughtful, and creative. She is also a very detailed observer, as evidenced by her lists of birthday presents and her meticulous descriptions of her friends. Anne also seems very disciplined, since she writes lengthy diary entries quite often. Anne’s diligence in writing seems to help her release strong feelings instead of blurting them out loud and hurting her family and friends. When Anne remarks that paper is more patient than people, she emphasizes the difficulty she has expressing herself openly in front of others. We assume that she is afraid to confide in people because she is scared that she will hurt her friends and family. Thus, Anne shows us that although she is critical of others’ faults, she is sensitive to their feelings.
Anne’s candor led her father to omit certain sections of her diary when it was first published. He felt that certain passages were unflattering toward some of the annex’s residents, most of whom died in the war. Indeed, in the diary, Anne is always very honest about her feelings and opinions and often insults others. Later, we learn that the others often do not tolerate Anne’s frankness. Later editions of Anne’s diary include some of the entries that Mr. Frank originally omitted. The inclusion of these passages, whether complimentary or disparaging, help us better understand Anne’s development as a woman and her relationships with her friends and family members.
Anne’s diary gives her the freedom to express her views however she wishes. When reading Anne’s entries, we realize that they show her perspective alone. The entries are, of course, subjective, colored by Anne’s views and not necessarily portraying the entire story of a person or an event. In later entries, Anne generally takes back any previous insults she wrote earlier in the heat of the moment. Thus, despite her stubborn nature and quick temper, Anne demonstrates that she is kind, fair, and forgiving at heart.
In contrast to later entries, Anne’s early writings hardly mention her family members. Anne briefly introduces her family, but until they go into hiding, they do not seem to play a large role in Anne’s daily thoughts. She refers to her mother and father as “loving parents,” and from her brief descriptions they seem caring and easygoing. Anne does not mention the difficulties she has with her mother, which become a frequent subject in later entries. Anne’s lack of detail about her family suggests that she has so much going on in her own life that she does not need to dwell on family relationships. When her father, mother, and sister do appear in these first entries, it is usually because Anne observed them doing something peripheral to her story, not because she is thinking about her relationship with them. The family’s imminent confinement drastically changes the way Anne thinks about her relation to her family.