Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.


Hanneli is one of Anne’s close friends who appears in Anne’s dreams several times as a symbol of guilt. Hanneli appears sad and dressed in rags, and she wishes that Anne could stop Hanneli’s suffering. A young Jewish girl, Hanneli has presumably already been arrested and deported to a concentration camp. For Anne, Hanneli represents the fate of her friends and companions and the millions of Jews—many of whom were children like herself—who were tortured and murdered by the Nazis. Anne questions why her friend has to suffer while she survives in hiding. Anne continually struggles with the guilt that her friend is dead while she is still alive. Hanneli’s appearance in Anne’s dreams makes Anne turn to God for answers and comfort, since there is no one else who can explain why she lives while her friend does not.

Anne’s Grandmother

Anne’s grandmother appears to Anne in her dreams. To Anne, she symbolizes unconditional love and support, as well as regret and nostalgia for the life Anne lived before being forced into hiding. Anne wishes she could tell her grandmother how much they all love her, just as she wishes she had appreciated her own life before she was confined in the annex. Anne misses living a life in which she did not have to worry about her future. She imagines that her grandmother is her guardian angel and will protect her, and she returns to this image to sustain her when she feels particularly afraid or insecure.

The Chestnut Tree

In one of her diary entries, Anne writes that her favorite place in the annex is a spot in the attic where she can look out of a window and see a chestnut tree outside. Anne takes great solace in the chestnut tree and even writes that the sight of it has the power to banish all feelings of unhappiness, and generate a sense of peace. Anne’s chestnut tree represents her hopes for the future. Anne longs for the day when she can go outside and be in nature again. As a result, the chestnut tree symbolizes a world where she and her family are free to walk the streets of Amsterdam again without fear of persecution.