Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, chapter name JANUARY 22 - FEBRUARY 15, 1944

JANUARY 22 - FEBRUARY 15, 1944


Dearest Kitty,

Can you tell me why people go to such lengths to hide their real selves? Or why I always behave very differently when I'm in the company of others? Why do people have so little trust in one another? I know there must be a reason, but sometimes I think it's horrible that you can't ever confide in anyone, not even those closest to you. It seems as if I've grown up since the night I had that dream, as if I've become more independent. You'll be amazed when I tell you that even my attitude toward the van Daans has changed. I've stopped looking at all the discussions and arguments from my family's biased point of view. What's brought on such a radical change? Well, you see, I suddenly realized that if Mother had been different, if she'd been a real mom, our relationship would have been very, very different. Mrs. van Daan is by no means a wonderful person, yet half the arguments could have been avoided if Mother hadn't been so hard to deal with every time they got onto a tricky subject. Mrs. van Daan does have one good point, though: you can talk to her. She may be selfish, stingy and underhanded, but she'll readily back down as long as you don't provoke her and make her unreasonable. This tactic doesn't work every time, but if you're patient, you can keep trying and see how far you get.

All the conflicts about our upbringing, about not pampering children, about the food -- about everything, absolutely everything -- might have taken a different turn if we'd remained open and on friendly terms instead of always seeing the worst side. I know exactly what you're going to say, Kitty.

"But, Anne, are these words really coming from your lips? From you, who have had to put up with so many unkind words from upstairs? From you, who are aware of all the injustices?"

And yet they are coming from me. I want to take a fresh look at things and form my own opinion, not just ape my parents, as in the proverb "The apple never falls far from the tree." I want to reexamine the van Daans and decide for myself what's true and what's been blown out of proportion. If I wind up being disappointed in them, I can always side with Father and Mother. But if not, I can try to change their attitude. And if that doesn't work, I'll have to stick with my own opinions and judgment. I'll take every opportunity to speak openly to Mrs. van D. about our many differences and not be afraid -- despite my reputation as a smart aleck -- to offer my impartial opinion. I won't say anything negative about my own family, though that doesn't mean I won't defend them if somebody else does, and as of today, my gossiping is a thing of the past.

Up to now I was absolutely convinced that the van Daans were entirely to blame for the quarrels, but now I'm sure the fault was largely ours. We were right as far as the subject matter was concerned, but intelligent people (such as ourselves!) should have more insight into how to deal with others.

I hope I've got at least a touch of that insight, and that I'll find an occasion to put it to good use.

Yours, Anne



Dearest Kitty,

A very strange thing has happened to me. (Actually, "happened" isn't quite the right word.)

Before I came here, whenever anyone at home or at school talked about sex, they were either secretive or disgusting. Any words having to do with sex were spoken in a low whisper, and kids who weren't in the know were often laughed at. That struck me as odd, and I often wondered why people were so mysterious or obnoxious when they talked about this subject. But because I couldn't change things, I said as little as possible or asked my girlfriends for information.

After I'd learned quite a lot, Mother once said to me, "Anne, let me give you some good advice. Never discuss this with boys, and if they bring it up, don't answer them." I still remember my exact reply. "No, of course not," I exclaimed. "Imagine!" And nothing more was said.

When we first went into hiding, Father often told me about things I'd rather have heard from Mother, and I learned the rest from books or things I picked up in conversations.

Peter van Daan wasn't ever as obnoxious about this subject as the boys at school. Or maybe just once or twice, in the beginning, though he wasn't trying to get me to talk. Mrs. van Daan once told us she'd never discussed these matters with Peter, and as far as she knew, neither had her husband. Apparently she didn't even know how much Peter knew or where he got his information.

Yesterday, when Margot, Peter and I were peeling potatoes, the conversation somehow turned to Boche. "We're still not sure whether Boche is a boy or a girl, are we?" I asked.

Yes we are, he answered. "Boche is a tomcat."

I began to laugh. "Some tomcat if he's pregnant."

Peter and Margot joined in the laughter. You see, a month or two ago Peter informed us that Boche was sure to have kittens before long, because her stomach was rapidly swelling. However, Boche's fat tummy turned out to be due to a bunch of stolen bones. No kittens were growing inside, much less about to be born.

Peter felt called upon to defend himself against my accusation. "Come with me. You can see for yourself. I was horsing around with the cat one day, and I could definitely see it was a 'he.' "

Unable to restrain my curiosity, I went with him to the warehouse. Boche, however, wasn't receiving visitors at that hour, and was nowhere in sight. We waited for a while, but when it got cold, we went back upstairs.

Later that afternoon I heard Peter go downstairs for the second time. I mustered the courage to walk through the silent house by myself and reached the warehouse. Boche was on the packing table, playing with Peter, who was getting ready to put him on the scale and weigh him.

"Hi, do you want to have a look?" Without any preliminaries, he picked up the cat, turned him over on his back, deftly held his head and paws and began the lesson.

"This is the male sexual organ, these are a few stray hairs, and that's his backside."

The cat flipped himself over and stood up on his little white feet.

If any other boy had pointed out the "male sexual organ" to me, I would never have given him a second glance. But Peter went on talking in a normal voice about what is otherwise a very awkward subject. Nor did he have any ulterior motives. By the time he'd finished, I felt so much at ease that I started acting normally too. We played with Boche, had a good time, chatted a bit and finally sauntered through the long warehouse to the door. "Were you there when Mouschi was fixed?"

"Yeah, sure. It doesn't take long. They give the cat an anesthetic, of course."

"Do they take something out?"

"No, the vet just snips the tube. There's nothing to see on the outside."

I had to get up my nerve to ask a question, since it wasn't as "normal" as I thought.

"Peter, the German word Geschlechtsteil means 'sexual organ,' doesn't it? But then the male and female ones have different names."

"I know that."

"The female one is a vagina, that I know, but I don't know what it's called in males."

"Oh well," I said. "How are we supposed to know these words? Most of the time you just come across them by accident."

"Why wait? I'll ask my parents. They know more than I do and they've had more experience."

We were already on the stairs, so nothing more was said.

Yes, it really did happen. I'd never have talked to a girl about this in such a normal tone of voice. I'm also certain that this isn't what Mother meant when she warned me about boys.

All the same, I wasn't exactly my usual self for the rest of the day. When I thought back to our talk, it struck me as odd. But I've learned at least one thing: there are young people, even those of the opposite sex, who can discuss these things naturally, without cracking jokes.

Is Peter really going to ask his parents a lot of questions? Is he really the way he seemed yesterday?

Oh, what do I know?!!!

Yours, Anne



Dearest Kitty,

In recent weeks I've developed a great liking for family trees and the genealogical tables of royal families. I've come to the conclusion that once you begin your search, you have to keep digging deeper and deeper into the past, which leads you to even more interesting discoveries.

Although I'm extremely diligent when it comes to my schoolwork and can pretty much follow the BBC Home Service on the radio, I still spend many of my Sundays sorting out and looking over my movie-star collection, which has grown to a very respectable size. Mr. Kugler makes me happy every Monday by bringing me a copy of Cinema & Theater magazine. The less worldly members of our household often refer to this small indulgence as a waste of money, yet they never fail to be surprised at how accurately I can list the actors in any given movie, even after a year. Bep, who often goes to the movies with her boyfriend on her day off, tells me on Saturday the name of the show they're going to see, and I then proceed to rattle off the names of the leading actors and actresses and the reviews. Moms recently remarked; that I wouldn't need to go to the movies later on, because!

I know all the plots, the names of the stars and the reviews by heart.

Whenever I come sailing in with a new hairstyle, I can read the disapproval on their faces, and I can be sure someone will ask which movie star I'm trying to imitate. My reply, that it's my own invention, is greeted with ~ skepticism. As for the hairdo, it doesn't hold its set for ~ more than half an hour. By that time I'm so sick and tired of their remarks that I race to the bathroom and restore my hair to its normal mass of curls.

Yours, Anne



Dearest Kitty,

This morning I was wondering whether you ever felt like a cow, having to chew my stale news over and over again until you're so fed up with the monotonous fare that you yawn and secretly wish Anne would dig up something new.

Sorry, I know you find it dull as ditchwater, but imagine how sick and tired I am of hearing the same old stuff. If the talk at mealtime isn't about politics or good food, then Mother or Mrs. van D. trot out stories about their childhood that we've heard a thousand times before, or Dussel goes on and on about beautiful racehorses, his Charlotte's extensive wardrobe, leaky rowboats, boys who can swim at the age of four, aching muscles and frightened patients. It all boils down to this: whenever one of the eight of us opens his mouth, the other seven can finish the story for him. We know the punch line of every joke before it gets told, so that whoever's telling it is left to laugh alone. The various milkmen, grocers and butchers of the two former housewives have been praised to the skies or run into the ground so many times that in our imaginations they've grown as old as Methuselah; there's absolutely no chance of anything new or fresh being brought up for discussion in the Annex.

Still, all this might be bearable if only the grown-ups weren't in the habit of repeating the stories we hear from Mr. Kleiman, Jan or Miep, each time embellishing them with a few details of their own, so that I often have to pinch my arm under the table to keep myself from setting the enthusiastic storyteller on the right track. Little children, such as Anne, must never, ever correct their elders, no matter how many blunders they make or how often they let their imaginations run away with them.

Jan and Mr. Kleiman love talking about people who have gone underground or into hiding; they know we're eager to hear about others in our situation and that we truly sympathize with the sorrow of those who've been arrested as well as the joy of prisoners who've been freed.

Going underground or into hiding has become as routine as the proverbial pipe and slippers that used to await the man of the house after a long day at work. There are many resistance groups, such as Free Netherlands, that forge identity cards, provide financial support to those in hiding, organize hiding places and find work for young Christians who go underground. It's amazing how much these generous and unselfish people do, risking their own lives to help and save others.

The best example of this is our own helpers, who have managed to pull us through so far and will hopefully bring us safely to shore, because otherwise they'll find themselves sharing the fate of those they're trying to protect. Never have they uttered a single word about the burden we must be, never have they complained that we're too much trouble. They come upstairs every day and talk to the men about business and politics, to the women about food and wartime difficulties and to the children about books and newspapers. They put on their most cheerful expressions, bring flowers and gifts for birthdays and holidays and are always ready to do what they can. That's something we should never forget; while others display their heroism in battle or against the Germans, our helpers prove theirs every day by their good spirits and affection.

The most bizarre stories are making the rounds, yet most of them are really true. For instance, Mr. Kleiman reported this week that a soccer match was held in the province of Gelderland; one team consisted entirely of men who had gone underground, and the other of eleven Military Policemen. In Hilversum, new registration cards were issued. In order for the many people in hiding to get their rations (you have to show this card to obtain your ration book or else pay 60 guilders a book), the registrar asked all those hiding in that district to pick up their cards at a specified hour, when the documents could be collected at a separate table.

All the same, you have to be careful that stunts like these don't reach the ears of the Germans.

Yours, Anne



My dearest Kit,

Another Sunday has rolled around; I don't mind them as much as I did in the beginning, but they're boring enough.

I still haven't gone to the warehouse yet, but maybe sometime soon. Last night I went downstairs in the dark, all by myself, after having been there with Father a few nights before. I stood at the top of the stairs while German planes flew back and forth, and I knew I was on my own, that I couldn't count on others for support. My fear vanished. I looked up at the sky and trusted in God.

I have an intense need to be alone. Father has noticed I'm not my usual self, but I can't tell him what's bothering me. All I want to do is scream "Let me be, leave me alone!"

Who knows, perhaps the day will come when I'm left alone more than I'd like!

Anne Frank



Dearest Kitty,

Invasion fever is mounting daily throughout the country. If you were here, I'm sure you'd be as impressed as I am at the many preparations, though you'd no doubt laugh at all the fuss we're making. Who knows, it may all be for nothing!

The papers are full of invasion news and are driving everyone insane with such statements as: "In the event of a British landing in Holland, the Germans will do what they can to defend the country, even flooding it, if necessary." They've published maps of Holland with the potential flood areas marked. Since large portions of Amsterdam were shaded in, our first question was what we should do if the water in the streets rose to above our waists. This tricky question elicited a variety of responses:

"It'll be impossible to walk or ride a bike, so we'll have to wade through the water."

"Don't be silly. We'll have to try and swim. We'll all put on our bathing suits and caps and swim underwater as much as we can, so nobody can see we're Jews."

"Oh, baloney! I can just imagine the ladies swimming with the rats biting their legs!"

(That was a man, of course; we'll see who screams loudest!)

"We won't even be able to leave the house. The warehouse is so unstable it'll collapse if there's a flood."

"Listen, everyone, all joking aside, we really ought to try and get a boat."

"Why bother? I have a better idea. We can each take a packing crate from the attic and row with a wooden spoon."

"I'm going to walk on stilts. I used to be a whiz at it when I was young."

"Jan Gies won't need to. He'll let his wife ride piggyback, and then Miep will be on stilts."

So now you have a rough idea of what's going on, don't you, Kit? This lighthearted banter is all very amusing, but reality will prove otherwise. The second question about the invasion was bound to arise: what should we do if the Germans evacuate Amsterdam?

"Leave the city along with the others. Disguise ourselves as well as we can."

"Whatever happens, don't go outside! The best thing to do is to stay put! The Germans are capable of herding the entire population of Holland into Germany, where they'll all die."

"Of course we'll stay here. This is the safest place. We'll try to talk Kleiman and his family into coming here to live with us. We'll somehow get hold of a bag of wood shavings, so we can sleep on the floor. Let's ask Miep and Kleiman to bring some blankets, just in case. And we'll order some extra cereal grains to supplement the sixty-five pounds we already have. Jan can try to find some more beans. At the moment we've got about sixty-five pounds of beans and ten pounds of split peas. And don't forget the fifty cans of vegetables."

"What about the rest, Mother? Give us the latest figures”.

"Ten cans of fish, forty cans of milk, twenty pounds of powdered milk, three bottles of oil, four crocks of butter, four jars of meat, two big jars of strawberries, two jars of raspberries, twenty jars of tomatoes, ten pounds of oatmeal, nine pounds of rice. That's it."

Our provisions are holding out fairly well. All the same, we have to feed the office staff, which means dipping into our stock every week, so it's not as much as it seems. We have enough coal and firewood, candles too.

"Let's all make little moneybags to hide in our clothes so we can take our money with us if we need to leave here."

"We can make lists of what to take first in case we have to run for it, and pack our knapsacks in advance."

"When the time comes, we'll put two people on the lookout, one in the loft at the front of the house and one in the back."

"Hey, what's the use of so much food if there isn't any water, gas or electricity?"

"We'll have to cook on the wood stove. Filter the water and boil it. We should clean some big jugs and fill them with water. We can also store water in the three kettles we use for canning, and in the washtub."

"Besides, we still have about two hundred and thirty pounds of winter potatoes in the spice storeroom."

All day long that's all I hear. Invasion, invasion, nothing but invasion. Arguments about going hungry, dying, bombs, fire extinguishers, sleeping bags, identity cards, poison gas, etc., etc. Not exactly cheerful.

A good example of the explicit warnings of the male contingent is the following conversation with Jan:

Annex: "We're afraid that when the Germans retreat, they'll take the entire population with them."

Jan: "That's impossible. They haven't got enough trains."

Annex: "Trains? Do you really think they'd put civilians on trains? Absolutely not. Everyone would have to hoof it." (Or, as Dussel always says, per pedes apostolorum.)

Jan: "I can't believe that. You're always looking on the dark side. What reason would they have to round up all the civilians and take them along?"

Annex: "Don't you remember Goebbels saying that if the Germans have to go, they'll slam the doors to all the occupied territories behind them?"

Jan: "They've said a lot of things."

Annex: "Do you think the Germans are too noble or humane to do it? Their reasoning is: if we go under, we'll drag everyone else down with us."

Jan: "You can say what you like, I just don't believe Annex: "It's always the same old story. No one wants to see the danger until it's staring them in the face."

Jan: "But you don't know anything for sure. You're just making an assumption."

Annex: "Because we've already been through it all ourselves, First in Germany and then here. What do you think's happening in Russia?"

Jan: "You shouldn't include the Jews. I don't think anyone knows what's going on in Russia. The British and the Russians are probably exaggerating for propaganda purposes, just like the Germans."

Annex: "Absolutely not. The BBC has always told the truth. And even if the news is slightly exaggerated, the facts are bad enough as they are. You can't deny that millions of peace-loving citizens in Poland and Russia have been murdered or gassed."

I'll spare you the rest of our conversations. I'm very calm and take no notice of all the fuss. I've reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I can't do anything to change events anyway. I'll just let matters take their course and concentrate on studying and hope that everything will be all right in the end.

Yours, Anne



Dear Kitty,

I can't tell you how I feel. One minute I'm longing for peace and quiet, and the next for a little fun. We've forgotten how to laugh -- I mean, laughing so hard you can’t stop.

This morning I had "the giggles"; you know, the kind we used to have at school. Margot and I were giggling like real teenagers.

Last night there was another scene with Mother. Margot was tucking her wool blanket around her when suddenly she leapt out of bed and carefully examined the blanket.

What do you think she found? A pin! Mother had patched the blanket and forgotten to take it out. Father shook his head meaningfully and made a comment about how careless Mother is. Soon afterward Mother came in from the bathroom, and just to tease her I said, "Oh, you are cruel." Of course, she asked me why I'd said that, and we told her about the pin she'd overlooked. She immediately assumed her haughtiest expression and said, "You're a fine one to talk. When you're sewing, the entire floor is covered with pins. And look, you've left the manicure set lying around again. You never put that away either!" I said I hadn't used it, and Margot backed me up, since she was the guilty party. Mother went on talking about how messy I was until I got fed up and said, rather curtly, "I wasn't even the one who said you were careless. I'm always getting blamed for other people's mistakes!"

Mother fell silent, and less than a minute later I was obliged to kiss her good-night. This incident may not have been very important, but these days everything gets on my nerves.

Anne Mary Frank



Dearest Kitty,

The sun is shining, the sky is deep blue, there's a magnificent breeze, and I'm longing -- really longing -- for everything: conversation, freedom, friends, being alone. I long . . . to cry! I feel as if I were about to explode. I know crying would help, but I can't cry. I'm restless. I walk from one room to another, breathe through the crack in the window frame, feel my heart beating as if to say, "Fulfill my longing at last. . ." I think spring is inside me. I feel spring awakening, I feel it in my entire body and soul. I have to force myself to act normally. I'm in a state of utter confusion, don't know what to read, what to write, what to do. I only know that I'm longing for something. . .

Yours, Anne



Dearest Kitty,

A lot has changed for me since Saturday. What's happened is this: I was longing for something (and still am), but . . . a small, a very small, part of the problem has been resolved.

On Sunday morning I noticed, to my great joy (I'll be honest with you), that Peter kept looking at me. Not in the usual way. I don't know, I can't explain it, but I suddenly had the feeling he wasn't as in love with Margot as I used to think. All day long I tried not to look at him too much, because whenever I did, I caught him looking at me and then -- well, it made me feel wonderful inside, and that's not a feeling I should have too often.

Sunday evening everyone, except Pim and me, was clustered around the radio, listening to the "Immortal Music of the German Masters." Dussel kept twisting and turning the knobs, which annoyed Peter, and the others too. After restraining himself for half an hour, Peter asked somewhat irritably if he would stop fiddling with the radio. Dussel replied in his haughtiest tone, "I’ll decide that”. Peter got angry and made an insolent remark. Mr. van Daan sided with him, and Dussel had to back down. That was it.

The reason for the disagreement wasn't particularly interesting in and of itself, but Peter has apparently taken the matter very much to heart, because this morning, when I was rummaging around in the crate of books in the attic, Peter came up and began telling me what had happened. I didn't know anything about it, but Peter soon realized he'd found an attentive listener and started warming up to his subject.

"Well, it's like this," he said. "I don't usually talk much, since I know beforehand I'll just be tongue-tied. I start stuttering and blushing and I twist my words around so much I finally have to stop, because I can't find the right words. That's what happened yesterday. I meant to say something entirely different, but once I started, I got all mixed up. It's awful. I used to have a bad habit, and sometimes I wish I still did: whenever I was mad at someone, I'd beat them up instead of arguing with them. I know this method won't get me anywhere, and that's why I admire you. You're never at a loss for words: you say exactly what you want to say and aren't in the least bit shy."

"Oh, you're wrong about that," I replied. "Most of what I say comes out very differently from the way I'd planned. Plus I talk too much and too long, and that's just as bad."

"Maybe, but you have the advantage that no one can see you're embarrassed. You don't blush or go to pieces."

I couldn't help being secretly amused at his words. However, since I wanted him to go on talking quietly about himself, I hid my laughter, sat down on a cushion on the floor, wrapped my arms around my knees and gazed at him intently.

I'm glad there's someone else in this house who flies into the same rages as I do.

Peter seemed relieved that he could criticize Dussel without being afraid I'd tell. As for me, I was pleased too, because I sensed a strong feeling of fellowship, which I only remember having had with my girlfriends.

Yours, Anne



The minor run-in with Dussel had several repercussions, for which he had only himself to blame. Monday evening Dussel came in to see Mother and told her triumphantly that Peter had asked him that morning if he'd slept well, and then added how sorry he was about what had happened Sunday evening -- he hadn't really meant what he'd said. Dussel assured him he hadn't taken it to heart. So everything was right as rain again. Mother passed this story on to me, and I was secretly amazed that Peter, who'd been so angry at Dussel, had humbled himself, despite all his assurances to the contrary.

I couldn't refrain from sounding Peter out on the subject, and he instantly replied that Dussel had been lying. You should have seen Peter's face. I wish I'd had a camera. Indignation, rage, indecision, agitation and much more crossed his face in rapid succession.

That evening Mr. van Daan and Peter really told Dussel off. But it couldn't have been all that bad, since Peter had another dental appointment today.

Actually, they never wanted to speak to each other again.