Diary of a Young Girl
November 28, 1942–June 13, 1943
The residents of the annex use too much electricity and exceed their ration. Anne begins to feel that Mr. Dussel is a strict disciplinarian and has too many opinions about etiquette. She writes that it is very difficult being “the badly brought-up center of attention in a family of nitpickers.” Hanukkah and St. Nicholas Day come on almost the same day, so the annex holds two celebrations. They light the Hanukkah candles for only ten minutes, since candles are in short supply. For St. Nicholas Day, Father hides a basket filled with presents and a mask of Black Peter in a cabinet.
Mr. van Daan makes sausages to preserve the meat they have bought. Mr. Dussel opens a pretend dental practice in the annex and comically attempts to fix Mrs. van Daan’s cavities. Anne tires of Mrs. van Daan’s incessant complaints and is annoyed that Mr. Dussel constantly tells her to be quiet at night but then wakes her up when he does his exercises at dawn. Anne marvels at how diplomatic she has become while living in the annex. Mr. Kugler brings the residents gravy packets to fill because he can find no one else to do the job. According to Anne, however, it is a prisoner’s job.
Anne writes more about the terrible events that are happening outside. Jews are being taken from their homes and separated from their families, and non-Jewish children are wandering the streets in hunger. Anne writes that both Christians and Jews want the war to end, and she believes that her family is better off than people outside the annex.
Anne seethes that everyone is always yelling at her and calling her “exasperating,” and she wishes she had a personality that did not antagonize everyone. Mr. Frank thinks the war will end soon, but the level of anxiety in the annex increases. Anne is frightened by the sound of gunfire one night, so she crawls into her father’s bed for comfort. Another night, Peter climbs up into the loft and a rat bites his arm. Mr. Dussel often writes letters to his wife and to others outside, and Mr. Frank demands that he stop. The residents have another scare when they think they hear burglars in the building. After that incident, the clock suddenly stops chiming, which also upsets Anne. Later, the residents hear a radio announcement that all Jews must be deported from Utrecht and the other provinces of the Netherlands by the beginning of July.
Mr. Dussel’s wife sends him a package for his birthday. Anne notes that Mr. Dussel does not share his sizable stash of personal food with the other residents or their Dutch helpers. Although Anne knows that her family is better off than the vast majority of Jews, she predicts that they will look back and wonder how they lived for so long under such difficult conditions. Mr. van Daan says he believes that the war will end in 1943. When Anne reaches her fourteenth birthday, her father writes her a poem, and Margot translates it from German into Dutch.
In this section Anne vents her frustrations at living in the annex and dealing with the adults. Anne realizes that the general unpleasantness of the annex and the van Daans’ and Mr. Dussel’s stinginess pale in comparison to the horrors others are enduring outside the annex. Nonetheless, Anne is frustrated at the adults and does not think their behavior is warranted. She does not seem to make much effort to understand why the adults are acting the way they are. This oversight reminds us that although Anne has grown up considerably since moving into the annex, she is a young girl and still emotionally immature in certain ways. She never takes a step back to try to understand the different pressures facing the adults. At her age, she is still struggling to understand her own nature and motivations, and she is not yet able to expand her focus to include the adults and their behavior. Reading her diary, we realize that Anne does not bear the burden of trying to protect an entire family from the inexplicable evils of the war. On the one hand, Anne has the perspective to realize that her situation within the annex is not as dire as the situation outside; however, she does not yet have the empathy to understand the cause of the adults’ tensions.
The Franks’ holiday observances suggest that even during terrible times, they still want to celebrate life. Hanukkah brings them some joy, though they must ration their use of Hanukkah candles because supplies are scarce. St. Nicholas Day is a traditional Dutch holiday that marks the advent of Christmas, and Black Peter is the companion to Father Christmas, or Santa Claus. The fact that the Franks celebrate Jewish and Christian holidays, and that Anne believes that both the Christians and Jews want the war to end, reflects the family’s assimilation into European culture. Their acceptance of other cultures and religions makes it even more difficult for the Franks to comprehend the persecution of the Jews and their treatment as outsiders.
Anne increasingly interrupts her descriptions of the minutiae and social dynamics of the annex with comparisons between the annex and the world outside. The radio keeps the residents informed of the latest atrocities being committed outside their door, and the break-ins disturb their already precarious sense of safety. Anne alternately feels that living in hiding is saving her life and that it unfairly condemns her. Working out her thoughts in the diary helps Anne make sense of the new world and the inconceivable reality she is forced to inhabit. She begins to see herself as a young girl trapped in a conflict that does not involve her directly. Anne looks to the future and the end of the war, imagining that the persecution of her people will end and she will be free again.