Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, chapter name MARCH 18 - MARCH 25, 1944

MARCH 18 - MARCH 25, 1944


Dearest Kitty,

I've told you more about myself and my feelings than I've ever told a living soul, so why shouldn't that include sex?

Parents, and people in general, are very peculiar when it comes to sex. Instead of telling their sons and daughters everything at the age of twelve, they send the children out of the room the moment the subject arises and leave them to find out everything on their own. Later on, when parents notice that their children have, somehow, come by their information, they assume they know more (or less) than they actually do. So why don't they try to make amends by asking them what's what? A major stumbling block for the adults -- though in my opinion it's no more than a pebble -- is that they're afraid their children will no longer look upon marriage as sacred and pure once they realize that, in most cases, this purity is a lot of nonsense. As far as I'm concerned, it's not wrong for a man to bring a little experience to a marriage. After all, it has nothing to do with the marriage itself, does it?

Soon after I turned eleven, they told me about menstruation. But even then, I had no idea where the blood came from or what it was for. When I was twelve and a half, I learned some more from Jacque, who wasn't as ignorant as I was. My own intuition told me what a man and a woman do when they're together; it seemed like a crazy idea at first, but when Jacque confirmed it, I was proud of myself for having figured it out!

It was also Jacque who told me that children didn't come out of their mother's tummies. As she put it, "Where the ingredients go in is where the finished product comes out!" Jacque and I found out about the hymen, and quite a few other details, from a book on sex education. I also knew that you could keep from having children, but how that worked inside your body remained a mystery. When I came here, Father told me about prostitutes, etc., but all in all there are still unanswered questions. If mothers don't tell their children everything, they hear it in bits and pieces, and that can't be right.

Even though it's Saturday, I'm not bored! That's because I've been up in the attic with Peter. I sat there dreaming with my eyes closed, and it was wonderful.

Yours, Anne M. Frank


SUNDAY, MARCH 19, 1944

Dearest Kitty,

Yesterday was a very important day for me. After lunch everything was as usual. At five I put on the potatoes, and Mother gave me some blood sausage to take to Peter. I didn't want to at first, but I finally went. He wouldn't accept the sausage, and I had the dreadful feeling it was still because of that argument we'd had about distrust. Suddenly I couldn't bear it a moment longer and my eyes filled with tears. Without another word, I re- turned the platter to Mother and went to the bathroom to have a good cry. Afterward I decided to talk things out with Peter. Before dinner the four of us were helping him with a crossword puzzle, so I couldn't say anything. But as we were sitting down to eat, I whispered to him, "Are you going to practice your shorthand tonight, Peter?"

"No," was his reply.

"I'd like to talk to you later on."

He agreed.

After the dishes were done, I went to his room and asked if he'd refused the sausage because of our last quarrel. Luckily, that wasn't the reason; he just thought it was bad manners to seem so eager. It had been very hot downstairs and my face was as red as a lobster. So after taking down some water for Margot, I went back up to get a little fresh air. For the sake of appearances, I first went and stood beside the van Daans' window before going to Peter's room. He was standing on the left side of the open window, so I went over to the right side. It's much easier to talk next to an open window in semidarkness than in broad daylight, and I think Peter felt the same way. We told each other so much, so very much, that I can't repeat it all. But it felt good; it was the most wonderful evening I've ever had in the Annex. I'll give you a brief description of the various subjects we touched on.

First we talked about the quarrels and how I see them in a very different light these days, and then about how we've become alienated from our parents. I told Peter about Mother and Father and Margot and myself. At one point he asked, "You always give each other a good-night kiss, don't you?"

"One? Dozens of them. You don't, do you?"

"No, I've never really kissed anyone."

"Not even on your birthday?"

"Yeah, on my birthday I have."

We talked about how neither of us really trusts our parents, and how his parents love each other a great deal and wish he'd confide in them, but that he doesn't want to. How I cry my heart out in bed and he goes up to the loft and swears. How Margot and I have only recently gotten to know each other and yet still tell each other very little, since we're always together. We talked about every imaginable thing, about trust, feelings and ourselves. Oh, Kitty, he was just as I thought he would be. Then we talked about the year 1942, and how different we were back then; we don't even recognize ourselves from that period. How we couldn't stand each other at first. He'd thought I was a noisy pest, and I'd quickly concluded that he was nothing special. I didn't understand why he didn't flirt with me, but now I'm glad. He also mentioned how he often used to retreat to his room. I said that my noise and exuberance and his silence were two sides of the same coin, and that I also liked peace and quiet but don't have anything for myself alone, except my diary, and that everyone would rather see the back of me, starting with Mr. Dussel, and that I don't always want to sit with my parents. We discussed how glad he is that my parents have children and how glad I am that he's here.

How I now understand his need to withdraw and his relationship to his parents, and how much I'd like to help him when they argue.

"But you're always a help to me!" he said.

"How?" I asked, greatly surprised.

"By being cheerful."

That was the nicest thing he said all evening. He also told me that he didn't mind my coming to his room the way he used to; in fact, he liked it. I also told him that all of Father's and Mother's pet names were meaningless, that a kiss here and there didn't automatically lead to trust. We also talked about doing things your own way, the diary, loneliness, the difference between everyone's inner and outer selves, my mask, etc. It was wonderful. He must have come to love me as a friend, and, for the time being, that's enough. I'm so grateful and happy, I can't find the words. I must apologize, Kitty, since my style is not up to my usual standard today. I've just written whatever came into my head!

I have the feeling that Peter and I share a secret. Whenever he looks at me with those eyes, with that smile and that wink, it's as if a light goes on inside me. I hope things will stay like this and that we'll have many, many more happy hours together.

Your grateful and happy Anne


MONDAY, MARCH 20, 1944

Dearest Kitty,

This morning Peter asked me if I'd come again one evening. He swore I wouldn't be disturbing him, and said that where there was room for one, there was room for two. I said I couldn't see him every evening, since my parents didn't think it was a good idea, but he thought I shouldn't let that bother me. So I told him I'd like to come some Saturday evening and also asked him if he'd let me know when you could see the moon.

"Sure," he said, "maybe we can go downstairs and look at the moon from there." I agreed; I'm not really so scared of burglars.

In the meantime, a shadow has fallen on my happiness. For a long time I've had the feeling that Margot likes Peter. Just how much I don't know, but the whole situation is very unpleasant. Now every time I go see Peter I'm hurting her, without meaning to.

The funny thing is that she hardly lets it show. I know I'd be insanely jealous, but Margot just says I shouldn't feel sorry for her.

"I think it's so awful that you've become the odd one out," I added.

"I'm used to that," she replied, somewhat bitterly.

I don't dare tell Peter. Maybe later on, but he and I need to discuss so many other things first.

Mother slapped me last night, which I deserved. I mustn't carry my indifference and contempt for her too far. In spite of everything, I should try once again to be friendly and keep my remarks to myself!

Even Pim isn't as nice as he used to be. He's been trying not to treat me like a child, but now he's much too cold. We'll just have to see what comes of it! He's warned me that if I don't do my algebra, I won't get any tutoring after the war. I could simply wait and see what happens, but I'd like to start again, provided I get a new book.

That's enough for now. I do nothing but gaze at Peter, and I'm filled to overflowing!

Yours, Anne M. Frank

Evidence of Margot's goodness. I received this today, March 20, 1944:

Anne, yesterday when I said I wasn't jealous of you, I wasn't being entirely honest. The situation is this: I'm not jealous of either you or Peter. I'm just sorry I haven't found anyone willing whom to share my thoughts and feelings, and I'm not likely to in the near future. But that's why I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that you will both be able to place your trust in each other. You're already missing out on so much here, things other people take for granted.

On the other hand, I'm certain I'd never have gotten as far with Peter, because I think I'd need to feel very close to a person before I could share my thoughts. I'd want to have the feeling that he understood me through and through, even if I didn't say much. For this reason it would have to be someone I felt was intellectually superior to me, and that isn't the case with Peter. But I can imagine you’re feeling close to him. So there's no need for you to reproach yourself because you think you’re taking something I was entitled to; nothing could be further from the truth. You and Peter have everything to gain by your friendship.

My answer:

Dearest Margot,

Your letter was extremely kind, but I still don't feel completely happy about the situation, and I don't think I ever will.

At the moment, Peter and I don't trust each other as much as you seem to think. It's just that when you're standing beside an open window at twilight, you can say more to each other than in bright sunshine. It's also easier to whisper your feelings than to shout them from the rooftops. I think you've begun to feel a kind of sisterly affection for Peter and would like to help him, just as much as I would. Perhaps you'll be able to do that someday, though that's not the kind of trust we have in mind. I believe that trust has to come from both sides; I also think that's the reason why Father and I have never really grown so close. But let's not talk about it anymore. If there's anything you still want to discuss, please write, because it's easier for me to say what I mean as on paper than face-to-face. You know how le much I admire you, and only hope that some of your goodness and Father's goodness will rub off on me, because, in that sense, you two are a lot alike.

Yours, Anne



Dearest Kitty,

I received this letter last night from Margot:

Dear Anne,

After your letter of yesterday I have the unpleasant feeling that your conscience bothers you whenever you go to Peter's to work or talk; there's really no reason for that. In my heart, I know there's someone who deserves my trust (as I do his), and I wouldn't be able to tolerate Peter in his place.

However, as you wrote, I do think of Peter as a kind of brother . . . a younger brother; we've been sending out feelers, and a brotherly and sisterly affection mayor may not develop at some later date, but it's certainly not reached that stage yet. So there's no need for you to feel sorry for me. Now that you've found companionship, enjoy it as much as you can.

In the meantime, things are getting more and more wonderful here. I think, Kitty, that true love may be developing in the Annex. All those jokes about marrying Peter if we stayed here long enough weren't so silly after all. Not that I'm thinking of marrying him, mind you. I don't even know what he'll be like when he grows up. Or if we'll even love each other enough to get married.

I'm sure now that Peter loves me too; I just don't know in what way. I can't figure out if he wants only a good friend, or if he's attracted to me as a girl or as a sister.

When he said I always helped him when his parents were arguing, I was tremendously happy; it was one step toward making me believe in his friendship. I asked him yesterday what he'd do if there were a dozen Annes who kept popping in to see him. His answer was: "If they were all like you, it wouldn't be so bad." He's extremely hospitable, and I think he really likes to see me. Mean- while, he's been working hard at learning French, even studying in bed until ten-fifteen.

Oh, when I think back to Saturday night, to our words, our voices, I feel satisfied with myself for the very first time; what I mean is, I'd still say the same and wouldn't want to change a thing, the way I usually do. He's so handsome, whether he's smiling or just sitting still. He's so sweet and good and beautiful. I think what surprised him most about me was when he discovered that I'm not at all the superficial, worldly Anne I appear to be, but a dreamer, like he is, with just as many troubles!

Last night after the dinner dishes, I waited for him to ask me to stay upstairs. But nothing happened; I went away. He came downstairs to tell Dussel it was time to listen to the radio and hung around the bathroom for a while, but when Dussel took too long, he went back upstairs. He paced up and down his room and went to bed early.

The entire evening I was so restless I kept going to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face. I read a bit, daydreamed some more, looked at the clock and waited, waited, waited, all the while listening to his foot- steps. I went to bed early, exhausted.

Tonight I have to take a bath, and tomorrow?

Tomorrow's so far away!

Yours, Anne M. Frank

My answer:

Dearest Margot,

I think the best thing is simply to wait and see what happens. It can't be much longer before Peter and I will have to decide whether to go back to the way we were or do some- thing else. I don't know how it'll turn out; I can't see any farther than the end of my nose.

But I'm certain of one thing: if Peter and I do become friends, I'm going to tell him you're also very fond of him and are prepared to help him if he needs you. You wouldn't want me to, I'm sure, but I don't care; I don't know what Peter thinks of you, but I'll ask him when the time comes. It's certainly nothing bad -- on the contrary! You're welcome to join us in the attic, or wherever we are. You won't be disturbing us, because we have an unspoken agreement to talk only in the evenings when it's dark.

Keep your spirits up! I'm doing my best, though it's not always easy. Your time may come sooner than you think.

Yours, Anne



Dearest Kitty,

Things are more or less back to normal here. Our coupon men have been released from prison, thank goodness!

Miep's been back since yesterday, but today it was her husband's turn to take to his bed-chills and fever, the usual flu symptoms. Bep is better, though she still has a cough, and Mr. Kleiman will have to stay home for a long time.

Yesterday a plane crashed nearby. The crew was able to parachute out in time. It crashed on top of a school, but luckily there were no children inside. There was a small fire and a couple of people were killed. As the airmen made their descent, the Germans sprayed them with bullets. The Amsterdammers who saw it seethed with rage at such a dastardly deed. We-by which I mean the ladies-were also scared out of our wits. Brrr, I hate the sound of gunfire.

Now about myself.

I was with Peter yesterday and, somehow, I honestly don't know how, we wound up talking about sex. I'd made up my mind a long time ago to ask him a few things. He knows everything; when I said that Margot and I weren't very well informed, he was amazed. I told him a lot about Margot and me and Mother and Father and said that lately I didn't dare ask them anything. He offered to enlighten me, and I gratefully accepted: he described how contraceptives work, and I asked him very boldly how boys could tell they were grown up. He had to think about that one; he said he'd tell me tonight. I told him what had happened to Jacque, and said that girls are defenseless against strong boys. "Well, you don't have to be afraid of me," he said. When I came back that evening, he told me how it is with boys. Slightly embarrassing, but still awfully nice to be able to discuss it with him. Neither he nor I had ever imagined we'd be able to talk so openly to a girl or a boy, respectively, about such intimate matters. I think I know everything now. He told me a lot about what he called prophylactics. That night in the bathroom Margot and I were talking about Bram and Trees, two friends of hers.

This morning I was in for a nasty surprise: after breakfast Peter beckoned me upstairs. "That was a dirty trick you played on me," he said. "I heard what you and Margot were saying in the bathroom last night. I think you just wanted to find out how much Peter knew and then have a good laugh!"

I was stunned! I did everything I could to talk him out of that outrageous idea; I could understand how he must have felt, but it just wasn't true!

"Oh no, Peter," I said. "I'd never be so mean. I told you I wouldn't pass on anything you said to me and I won't. To put on an act like that and then deliberately be so mean. . . No, Peter, that's not my idea of a joke.

It wouldn't be fair. I didn't say anything, honest. Won't you believe me?" He assured me he did, but I think we'll have to talk about it again sometime. I've done nothing all day but worry about it. Thank goodness he came right out and said what was on his mind. Imagine if he'd gone around thinking I could be that mean. He's so sweet!

Now I'll have to tell him everything!

Yours, Anne


FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 1944

Dear Kitty,

I often go up to Peter's room after dinner nowadays to breathe in the fresh evening air. You can get around to meaningful conversations more quickly in the dark than with the sun tickling your face. It's cozy and snug sitting beside him on a chair and looking outside. The van Daans and Dussel make the silliest remarks when I disappear into his room. "Anne's second home" they say, or "Is it proper for a gentleman to receive young girls in his room at night with the lights out?" Peter has amazing presence of mind in the face of these so-called witticisms. My mother, incidentally, is also bursting with curiosity and simply dying to ask what we talk about, only she's secretly afraid I'd refuse to answer. Peter says the grown-ups are just jealous because we're young and that we shouldn't take their obnoxious comments to heart.

Sometimes he comes downstairs to get me, but that's awkward too, because in spite of all his precautions his face turns bright red and he can hardly get the words out of his mouth. I'm glad I don't blush; it must be extremely unpleasant.

Besides, it bothers me that Margot has to sit downstairs all by herself, while I'm upstairs enjoying Peter's company. But what can I do about it? I wouldn't mind it if she came, but she'd just be the odd one out, sitting there like a lump on a log. I've had to listen to countless remarks about our sudden friendship. I can't tell you how often the conversation at meals has been about an Annex wedding, should the war last another five years. Do we take any notice of this parental chitchat? Hardly, since it's all so silly. Have my parents forgotten that they were young once? Apparently they have. At any rate, they laugh at us when we're serious, and they're serious when we're joking.

I don't know what's going to happen next, or whether we'll run out of things to say. But if it goes on like this, we'll eventually be able to be together without talking. If only his parents would stop acting so strangely. It's probably because they don't like seeing me so often; Peter and I certainly never tell them what we talk about. Imagine if they knew we were discussing such intimate things.

I'd like to ask Peter whether he knows what girls look like down there. I don't think boys are as complicated as girls. You can easily see what boys look like in photographs or pictures of male nudes, but with women it's different. In women, the genitals, or whatever they're called, are hidden between their legs. Peter has probably never seen a girl up close. To tell you the truth, neither have I. Boys are a lot easier. How on earth would I go about describing a girl's parts? I can tell from what he said that he doesn't know exactly how it all fits together. He was talking about the cervix, but that's on the inside, where you can't see it. Everything's pretty well arranged in us women. Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn't realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn't see them. What's even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris. I asked Mother one time what that little bump was, and she said she didn't know. She can really play dumb when she wants to!

But to get back to the subject. How on earth can you explain what it all looks like without any models?

Shall I try anyway? Okay, here goes!

When you're standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you're standing, so you can't see what's inside. They separate when you sit down, and they're very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there's a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That's the clitoris. Then come the inner labia, which are also pressed together in a kind of crease. When they open up, you can see a fleshy little mound, no bigger than the top of my thumb. The upper part has a couple of small holes in it, which is where the urine comes out. The lower part looks as if it were just skin, and yet that's where the vagina is. You can barely find it, because the folds of skin hide the opening. The hole's so small I can hardly imagine how a man could get in there, much less how a baby could come out. It's hard enough trying to get your index finger inside. That's all there is, and yet it plays such an important role!

Yours, Anne M. Frank



Dearest Kitty,

You never realize how much you've changed until after it's happened. I've changed quite drastically, everything about me is different: my opinions, ideas, critical outlook. Inwardly, outwardly, nothing's the same. And, I might safely add, since it's true, I've changed for the better. I once told you that, after years of being adored, it was hard for me to adjust to the harsh reality of grown-ups and rebukes. But Father and Mother are largely to blame for my having to put up with so much. At home they wanted me to enjoy life, which was fine, but here they shouldn't have encouraged me to agree with them and only shown me "their" side of all the quarrels and gossip. It was a long time before I discovered the score was fifty-fifty. I now know that many blunders have been committed here, by young and old alike. Father and Mother's biggest mistake in dealing with the van Daans is that they're never candid and friendly (admittedly, the friendliness might have to be feigned). Above all, I want to keep the peace, and to neither quarrel nor gossip. With Father and Margot that's not difficult, but it is with Mother, which is why I'm glad she gives me an occasional rap on the knuckles. You can win Mr. van Daan to your side by agreeing with him, listening quietly, not saying much and most of all . . . responding to his teasing and his corny jokes with a joke of your own. Mrs. van D. can be won over by talking openly to her and admitting when you're wrong. She also frankly admits her faults, of which she has many. I know all too well that she doesn't think as badly of me as she did in the beginning. And that's simply because I'm honest and tell people right to their faces what I think, even when it's not very flattering. I want to be honest; I think it gets you further and also makes you feel better about yourself.

Yesterday Mrs. van D. was talking about the rice we gave Mr. Kleiman. "All we do is give, give, give. But at a certain point I think that enough is enough. If he'd only take the trouble, Mr. Kleiman could scrounge up his own rice. Why should we give away all our supplies? We need them just as badly."

"No, Mrs. van Daan," I replied. "I don't agree with you. Mr. Kleiman may very well be able to get hold of a little rice, but he doesn't like having to worry about it. It's not our place to criticize the people who are helping us. We should give them whatever they need if we can possibly spare it. One less plate of rice a week won't make that much difference; we can always eat beans."

Mrs. van D. didn't see it my way, but she added that, even though she disagreed, she was willing to back down, and that was an entirely different matter.

Well, I've said enough. Sometimes I know what my place is and sometimes I have my doubts, but I'll eventually get where I want to be! I know I will! Especially now that I have help, since Peter helps me through many a rough patch and rainy day!

I honestly don't know how much he loves me and whether we'll ever get as far as a kiss; in any case, I don't want to force the issue! I told Father I often go see Peter and asked if he approved, and of course he did!

It's much easier now to tell Peter things I'd normally keep to myself; for example, I told him I want to write later on, and if I can't be a writer, to write in addition to my work.

I don't have much in the way of money or worldly possessions, I'm not beautiful, intelligent or clever, but I'm happy, and I intend to stay that way! I was born happy, I love people, I have a trusting nature, and I'd like everyone else to be happy too.

Your devoted friend, Anne M. Frank

An empty day, though clear and bright,

Is just as dark as any night.

(I wrote this a few weeks ago and it no longer holds true, but I included it because my poems are so few and far between.)