Diary of a young girl Summary
Section One: June 12 to July 8, 1942
The epigraph of this book is in Anne’s handwriting and claims that she hopes she will be able to confide “completely” in her diary, and that it shall be a great comfort to her.
The first entry of the diary is on June 12, Anne’s thirteenth birthday. She tells the story of how she woke early and then had to contain herself until seven a.m. to wake her parents and open her presents. She claims that the diary, one of those presents, is “possibly the nicest of all.” She relates her list of presents, adding that she is “thoroughly spoiled,” and then goes off to school with her friend Lies. On Sunday she has a birthday party with her school friends. Her mother always asks who she is going to marry, and she has managed to dissuade her from the boy she really likes, Peter Wessel. She talks about her school friends: Lies Goosens, Sanne Houtman, and Jopie de Waal. Lies and Sanne used to be her best friends, but since she started attending the Jewish Secondary School, she has become closer to Jopie.
On Saturday, June 20, Anne divulges that she wants her diary to be a friend to her–unlike her other friends, someone she can completely confide to. Although she has a loving family and lots of friends, she feels isolated and alone sometimes, and wants her diary to be someone she can talk to openly and honestly about everything. So she will call her diary “Kitty” and address it like a friend. She tells Kitty the history of her family: her parents’ marriage, her 1929 birth in Frankfurt, and then, “as we are Jewish,” their 1933 emigration to Holland. The rest of her family suffered under Hitler’s pogroms in Germany; some of them managed to emigrate to other countries.
After 1940, Hitler conquered Holland and brought anti-Jewish measures there. Jews were forced to wear yellow stars as marks of identification; they had to hand in their bicycles and were not allowed to use trams or public facilities. They were segregated into Jewish shops and Jewish
schools and not allowed to visit Christian homes. As Anne says, “Our freedom was strictly limited.” Her beloved grandmother died in 1942. She went to the Montessori Kindergarten for lower school and currently, she attends the Jewish Secondary School.
The next entry, also on June 20, begins with the signature greeting of “Dear Kitty.” Anne says that she has taken a liking to ping-pong; she and her friends often play and then go get ice-cream at the nearest shop that allows Jews. There, they let their admirers buy them ice cream. At this point, Anne lets the diary know that she has plenty of boyfriends, whom offer to escort her home from school and almost always fall in love with her. She tries to ignore them when they do. Meanwhile, Anne’s whole class is waiting anxiously to hear who will be promoted to the next grade.
She personally is not worried about any subject except for math, since she has been punished for talking too much. Her teacher made her write three essays about being a “chatterbox.” After she wrote funny essays, he allowed her to talk in class.
In the boiling heat, Anne wishes she didn’t have to walk everywhere–but alas, Jews are not allowed to ride trams. The only place they are allowed is the ferry, which the ferryman let them ride as soon as they asked. Anne expresses sympathy towards the Dutch; saying it is not their fault that the Germans treat Jews so badly. She is approached by Harry Goldberg, a sixteen-year-old boy she met at her friend Eva’s house. He “can tell all kinds of amusing stories,” says Anne, and soon the two are seeing each other regularly. Although Harry has a girl friend, Fanny, a “very soft, dull creature,” he is smitten with Anne. Although his grandparents, with whom he lives, think Anne is too young for him, he stops going out with Fanny and makes himself available to Anne. When she asks how, he claims, “Love finds a way.”
Harry comes to meet her parents, and Anne makes all sorts of preparations for his visit. They go out for a walk, and Harry brings Anne home ten minutes after eight o’clock. As Jews have a city-wide curfew of eight o’clock, Mr. Frank is very upset and makes Anne promise to be back
in the house at ten minutes to eight from now on. Still, her family likes Harry, and Anne does as well.
Anne gets her school marks back and they are good. She explains that although her parents do not pressure her for grades, she wants to be a good pupil. The headmaster of the Jewish Secondary School accepted her and her sister Margot “conditionally” and she does not want to let him down. She mentions that her father has been home a lot lately, “as there is nothing for him to do at business.” Her father tells her the disturbing news that he has been planning for them to go into hiding for more than a year. Anne is horrified and asks why must he talk like that.
He replies that he and Mrs. Frank will take care of it all and there is no need for her to be upset.
Section Three: October 1, 1942 to November 28, 1942
Anne opens her entry for October 1 by saying that she was terrified when the doorbell rang–she thought it was the Gestapo. It was not, but there are other fears. One of the employees, an older Jewish chemist, knows the building very well and they are always afraid that he might take a notion to look in the annexe. Anne is also frightened by the news she has heard from the outside: the Franks’ Jewish friends are being hauled away by the dozens. News of the German concentration camps filters down to them, along with other atrocious German misdeeds. “Nice people, the Germans!” huffs Anne. “To think that I was once one of them too!”
To distract herself from these woes, Anne keeps busy with her studies of French and math and records the squabbles of the two families. She is annoyed with Mrs. Van Daan for flirting with Mr. Frank, and unhappy about her relationship with her mother. She and her sister are temporarily getting along and have agreed to read each others’ diaries.
On the night of October 20, all the residents have a scare. A carpenter comes to fill the fire extinguishers and is hammering on the landing
opposite their cupboard door entrance. They settle down and try to be quiet as soon as they hear him, but then he starts to knock on their door.
Everyone goes white as he begins pushing at the door to their secret annexe. Then they hear the voice of Mr. Koophius, one of their protectors. He asks them to let them in, and they do immediately. On Monday, Miep and her husband Henk spend the night in the annexe, which is an amusing diversion for all the residents. At the end of October, Anne is worried about her father. He falls ill and they cannot call a doctor for him, and if he coughs he might give them away. She also notes that she is becoming more “grownup”–her mother allows her to read a book that mentions prostitution, and she learns about periods. (She longs for one, “it seems so important.”)
On November 7, Anne reports at length a quarrel that happened between herself and her family. Her parents took Margot’s side when Margot and Anne fought over a book, and Anne writes tearfully that she feels the pain of her father’s judgement all the more because her mother’s love is not what Anne wishes it would be. Fortunately, her father is feeling better, and a little festivity comes in the form of Peter’s sixteenth birthday. In addition, Anne is excited because both families have agreed to take in an eighth person. They all sit down to decide who will “fit in well with our family.'” They settle on Albert Dussel, an elderly dentist.
He is excited to have a hiding place, but insists on waiting to come for a couple of days until after he has settled his accounts and treated a couple of patients. Anne is impatient and perceives him as somewhat ungrateful.
Dussel eventually arrives. He is greatly surprised to see the Franks, as he had heard that they were in Switzerland. They all laugh and tell him how they came to be in the secret annexe, then give him a grand tour. The Van Daans have written a funny list of “rules” advertising the Secret Annexe, which amuse everyone. Dussel will share a room with Anne while Margot moves to the camp bed. Dussel is, as Anne says, “a very nice man.” He shares the tragic news from outside–many of their friends have been taken away by the Germans, and every evening, as if on a witch hunt, the Germans go in search of Jews. Anne feels “wicked sleeping in a
warm bed, while my dearest friends have been knocked down…all because they are Jews!” At Dussel’s news, a gloom settles over the whole annexe. Anne is upset but decides that she cannot spend all her time upset.
Meanwhile they suffer under shortages of all types–a power shortage (they are not allowed to use any power for a week) and a paper shortage among them. Anne finds that Dussel has his faults; she calls him “a stodgy old-fashioned disciplinarian.”
Section Five: June 15, 1943 through December 6, 1943
One of their Dutch helpers, Mr. Vossen, was supposed to have an ulcer operation, but the doctors realized that he had cancer and was too far gone for them to help. This is sad news for everyone in the annex, they will be losing a good helper and friend. Anne is trying to be “helpful, friendly, and good” to everyone in the annex. She has stopped studying shorthand and worries about her near-sightedness. She and Margot do office work for Elli, one of their helpers. Anne politely asks Mr. Dussel if she can use the table in their bedroom to study two afternoons a week.
Dussel refuses, claiming that his work is more important than Anne’s.
Seething, Anne asks her father for advice, and after he intervenes, Dussel gives in.
There is a real burglary on July 16–the thieves take cash and sugar ration coupons. The bombing continues–Anne says that “whole streets lie in ruins.” Meanwhile the bombing and destruction continues, setting everyone’s nerves on edge. While all of this is going on, Anne describes what everyone’s first wish will be once they get out of hiding. Then, she decides to tell her diary about an average day in hiding. Over a period of days she breaks down the daily routine of the annex residents: bedtime, breakfast, lunch, evening recreation, potato peeling, etc. She details everyone’s actions with humor, making sure to skewer the residents she does not particularly like.
Outside, the political news is good. Italy’s Fascist party is banned, signaling internal discord. The country surrenders to the Allied Powers on September 8. While this is good for the long term of the war, life in Holland is still strict: Dussel endangers their lives by asking Miep to bring him a book that was banned by the Germans, and Mr. Koophius has to go to the hospital for an abdominal operation and long recovery.
Interpersonal relations are not going well in the annex: Anne is taking Valerian pills for depression, the Van Daans have run out of money, and their few protectors who are not ill are overstressed. The adults quarrel incessantly, while Anne tries to shake herself out of her depression. She has no appetite and wanders the annex aimlessly, “feeling like a songbird whose wings have been clipped and who is hurling himself…against the bars of his cage.” Mr. Frank tries to give the girls new things to do: he orders Latin lessons for Margot and tries to get a children’s Bible for Anne so she can learn something of the New Testament.
Anne notes that her diary entries are written in a variety of different moods; she feels dependent on the atmosphere. Right now, she admits that she is “going through a spell of being depressed” and berates herself as being “a coward.” But her fears continue, she writes that the annex is “a little piece of blue heaven, surrounded by heavy black rain clouds…gather[ing] more closely about us.” A cheerful spot comes in the form of an entry that she writes as an ode to her fountain pen, a prized possession of hers which was accidentally melted in the stove. But then she has a bad dream about her childhood friend, Lies. She imagines her “clothed in rags,” and begging Anne to help her. Anne mourns that she cannot, and feels guilty for all of her blessings while others are suffering.
Dussel is acting “very put out.” He does not even thank the Franks or the Van Daans on the one-year anniversary of his arrival in the annex.
Meanwhile, Elli cannot come to help them for six weeks because of a diptheria outbreak in her home. St. Nicholas Day is certain to be less plentiful than last year–but Anne, determined to make something festive out of the occasion, begins composing poems for each person with the
help of her father. They gather everyone’s shoes and put them in a large basket, then cover it with paper as a surprise. When everyone is shocked at the size of the package, Anne reads a funny poem about how times are hard but that festive “spirit” remains.
Section Six: December 22, 1943 through February 13, 1944
Anne gets the flu. She tries all sorts of cures and is embarrassed when Dussel lies on her “naked chest” and listens to her heart. The household receives nice Christmas presents from their protectors, but Anne feels jealous of them because they can go outside and still enjoy many things she cannot. She feels “a great longing to have lots of fun myself for once.” Morale, she adds, is “rotten” as the war is at a standstill. Anne also contemplates her father and “the love of his youth.” She adds, in a restrained way, that she understands him better now than she used to and admires his patience and his good qualities. She is also shocked at the number of times she has spoken badly of her mother in her diary. She “soothes her conscience” by thinking that the words are on paper rather than in her mother’s memory.
Anne becomes “very unhappy” when she thinks of her Granny (her mother’s mother) and her friend Lies. She contemplates Granny’s kindess and courage in the face of suffering, and she wonders if Lies is still alive.
She notes that her belief in God is not strong enough.
While she feels that she has a better understanding of her mother, Anne notes that there are many changes going on within herself. Her body is changing–she now gets her period and feels “ecstasies” at the sight of a female nude. She confesses that she once felt a “strong desire” to kiss a female friend and wondered about the mysteries of her friend’s body.
She longs for a girl friend, but there is no one, and wants so badly to confide in someone that she tries to talk to Peter. She dreams of Peter Wessel, imagining his cheek against hers, and notes that she has very
vivid dreams. When she prays, she says, she prays for all “Jews and those in need.”
Anne explains her longing for Peter Wessel by telling her diary the history of “myself and all my boy friends.” She had childhood crushes, she explains, but none of them were serious until she fell in love with Peter Wessel, an older boy. She calls him her “helper” in the annex when she is going through tough times and thinks of him often. It helps her look more lightly on the adults’ quarrels, which continue with regularity.
One day, Peter shows Anne the cat, Boche. He shows Anne the “male organs” so nonchalantly that Anne quickly gets over her embarressment.
She is impressed that he can talk about such things without getting flustered.
Boredom still reigns in the annex. Anne notes that she has to hear the same stories over and over again from the residents. Not only do they repeat their own stories over and over again, but they regurgitate the stories that their Dutch helpers relate over and over again. Anne applauds their Dutch helpers. Not only are they risking their lives for the Jews in the annex, but she says they “display heroism in their cheerfulness and affection.” Politics are a big topic of discussion, especially the threat of an invasion. Meanwhile, Anne confides, she is “longing–so longing–for everything!”
Section Seven: February 13, 1944 through March 19, 1944
“Since Saturday a lot has changed for me,” writes Anne, and what has changed, she notes, is Peter. He is looking at her in a new way, “to my great joy.” This is a pleasant surprise as she had once believed Peter was in love with Margot. They begin to seek each other out and confide in each other. Peter tells her how he has difficulty expressing himself verbally and used to beat people up when he was angry, rather than arguing. Peter tells her that he will hide his Jewish ancestry when the war
is over; his “tinge of honesty” disappoints Anne. She feels that he is insecure and needs affection.
Soon Anne is Anne finding excuses to go upstairs where the Van Daans stay, and crying when she does not get the opportunity to speak to him.
She insists that she is not in love, but her mother has been looking at her “queerly” and warns that she must not bother Peter. Still, she goes to the attic where he works nearly every morning. She admits that “I really do hardly anything else but think of Peter,” and makes lists of the things they have in common. For her, Peter Van Daan and Peter Wessel “have grown into one Peter, who is beloved and good.”
There is another burglary, with complications this time. The intruder had a skeleton key or a duplicate and did not have to force his way inside.
Plus, he was scared off when he heard Mr. Van Daan. This is unfortunate for the residents of the annex, because that person may report them. It would be especially unfortunate if the burglar is one of the warehouse workers.
Anne continues to get frustrated with the adults in the annex. She feels as though Peter is the one bright light in her life, and they spend a great deal of time together. She wonders what Peter feels about her and admits that her feelings are growing more serious. The others notice how much time the two of them are spending together, of course. Mrs. Van Daan teases Anne, asking if it’s all right to trust the two of them alone together.
March 7 is an important diary entry. Anne summarizes her opinion about her development in the annex from the first days until the present. On the whole, she is quite pleased with herself. She feels as though she has managed to overcome many emotional diffculties to become the young woman she is. She also discusses her sister, Margot, in a new way. Instead of talking about what a good girl she is, she says that Margot lacks the “nonchalance” for deep discussions and takes things too seriously.
Life in the annex continues to be hard. The people who sold them illegal food coupons were caught, so there are no fats in the house and little food besides. The adults are on edge about food and politics. All of their protectors except Mr. Kraler are troubled by illness, and Mr. Kraler was “called up” to go digging. He is later exempted by the court. Still, Anne pines for Peter and wonders if her chatter bothers him. She notes that “the brightest spot of all” is that she can still write down her feelings. She is annoyed that the others in the annex still attempt to restrict her behavior and conduct– “we are treated as children over outward things, and we are much older than most girls of our age inwardly.” When Peter tells her that she is a great help to him, Anne is overcome with joy.
Section Eight: March 20, 1944 through April 25, 1944
Anne and Peter continue their close relationship; now Peter comes downstairs to visit Anne as well as she going upstairs to visit him. Anne worries that Margot may be jealous of her relationship with Peter. She and Margot exchange letters talking about their feelings. Margot isn’t jealous of Anne’s relationship with Peter, but she is jealous that Anne has someone to talk to and she does not. Peter invites Margot upstairs with Anne to join them in their discussions.
Outside, the war continues. A plane crash near their building surprises and frightens everyone. Burglaries and theft are commonplace throughout the city. To her own boredom, Anne includes one whole entry on the subject of politics and talks about the way they all sit around the radio for Sunday evening programming. She notes that “[p]olitics can’t do much more harm to the parents!” But she notes with glee that things are going well on the Russian front.
Mrs. Frank forbids Anne to go upstairs so often, claiming that Mrs. Van Daan is jealous. Anne is annoyed and a serious critique of both the mothers follows. Then, on March 29, Anne writes that an exiled Dutch government minister has announced that after the war they ought to
make a collection of diaries and letters. Anne is excited at the thought and believes that it would be interesting if she wrote a novel about the secret annex.
Food is short in the annex. They go through “food cycles” where they only eat one type of food–right now they are in the midst of a “bean cycle” and there are no vegetables available. Anne is in the midst of emotional turmoil and describes how she cried a great deal alone one night. She is also concerned about her future. She wants to be a writer and talks about some of the stories she has written. “I want to go on living even after my death!” she exclaims, and thanks God for giving her a literary gift. She also talks about her other hobbies, including history and mythology.
On April 11 another burglary occurs. The men go downstairs to investigate and scare the burglars away by shouting “Police!” but this only draws attention to them. A married couple shine a flashlight into the warehouse and the men run upstairs. For days they all huddle upstairs, waiting for the Gestapo to come and take them away. The adults contemplate destroying evidence such as the radio and Anne’s diary.
Anne responds with fury at the latter suggestion. She rages out at the situation she and her family have been placed in, demanding “Who has inflicted this upon us! Who has made us Jews different from other people!” Fortunately, Miep and her husband Henk come to visit them before the police come by in response to the burglary. Their kindness inspires Anne; she says that she wants to become a Dutch citizen after the war.
The burglary strains the atmosphere in the annex. The adults are upset.
Peter forgets to unbolt the lock on the door to the warehouse, locking the workers out and almost getting them in a tremendous amount of trouble. But Anne is happy because she finally gets a kiss from Peter.
Although she knows her family would not approve, she feels that she is mature for her age and can handle his affections. There is more trouble
with the warehouse workers downstairs and Dussel refuses to speak to the Van Daans.
Section Nine: April 27, 1944 through August 1, 1944
Anne is reading a number of history books; she discusses them in detail in her diary. She and Peter are more emotionally intimate than ever, but Anne admits with disappointment that she could never marry him; he “hasn’t enough character yet.” She and Peter agree that she should discuss their relationship with her father. She does, and her father says that it is not a good idea for them to carry on a relationship in the house.
Anne, he says, must be the one to show restraint as she is the woman.
Meanwhile Dussel has apologized to the Van Daans.
Anne despairs about the war, wondering what the point of it all is. She thinks that “the little man is just as guilty” as the big politicians and businessmen, because “otherwise the peoples of the world would have risen in revolt a long time ago!” Despite her despair, she is confident that the invasion is coming soon. Her father reprimands her for going upstairs too often; in return she writes him a letter. In the letter she explains that she has been tormented by loneliness since she moved into the annex and hinting that he did nothing to help her with her loneliness. They have a long talk and her father is very upset. Anne feels ashamed and vows to improve her character.
Anne tells her diary her parents’ biographies. Both Mr. andMrs. Frank came from rich families and tell grand stories about wealth and privilege.
“One could certainly not call us rich now,” Anne says, “but all my hopes are pinned on after the war.” She then writes again about her desire to be a famous writer and mentions that she wants to publish a book called “The Secret Annex”; she expects her diary to be of great help to her in this regard.
Her father’s birthday comes and goes; the Franks have been married nineteen years. On May 20, Mr. Frank loses five bottles of yogurt toMrs.
Van Daan. They had made a bet regarding the date of the invasion. Anne contemplates the differences of Dutch and English responsibilit, and notes with disappointment that anti-Semitism has grown among the Dutch population. She wonders why people feel this way, “is the Jew once again worth less than another?” Their vegetable man is arrested for hiding Jews in his attic, another blow. Fresh fears bloom among the residents. Anne wonders if it would not have been better for all of them to have not gone into hiding, “if we were all dead now and not going through this misery.”
On June 6, the D-Day invasion finally comes. This excites everyone and Anne dares to wonder if they might be liberated that year, 1944. Margot says that she and Anne may be able to go back to school in September.
Anne records new developments in the invasion with great excitement.
Her fifteenth birthday passes, and she is feeling happier. She talks about her relationship with Peter, noting that although they are not like lovers they have a deep emotional bond. She also writes about her love for nature; wondering if she feels the pull of the clouds and the trees so strongly because she cannot go outside.
The invasion goes along well, even though for three weeks the troops have been operating in heavy rains. Anne is concerned about Peter; she believes him “weak” and notes that it is very difficult to be completely in someone’s confidence. She then thanks God for her own strength of character, and is grateful that, unlike Peter, she feels religion deeply. July 15 is another important entry; Anne goes in-depth about herself and what she believes. She talks about her parents and admits that she has pushed her father away from her. She also says, that it’s “really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and so impossible to carry out.” She keeps them, she says, “because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
The war continues to turn in the Allies’ favor. On July 21, Anne writes that an attempt has been made on Hitler’s life by a German general. In her last entry, on August 1, Anne talks again about how there are “two Annes,” the public Anne and the private Anne. She wonders what she could be like “if…there weren’t any other people living in the world.”