Anne Frank began keeping her diary on the occasion of her thirteenth birthday. In fact, the first book of her diary was one of her birthday gifts that year. When she ran out of space in that volume, she continued in other notebooks and on loose paper.
Approximately one month after Anne began writing, her family went into hiding in a place she referred to in her diary as the “Secret Annex”. A little more than one year after that, she decided to record a description of a normal day in the life of the hiding place. She began on August 4th by describing evening and night events. On August 5th, she described the events that occurred around lunchtime. This was a special time, because the warehousemen in the business below went home for lunch. This meant that the hiders could move around more freely and that they might even be visited by one or more of their helpers. Anne described a typical scene.
“Quarter to one. The place is filling up. First Mr. Van Santen, then Koophuis or Kraler, Elli and sometimes Miep as well.
One o’clock. We’re all sitting listening to the BBC, seated around the baby wireless; these are the only times when the members of the ‘Secret Annex’ do not interrupt each other, because now someone is speaking whom even Mr. Van Daan can’t interrupt.”
In this brief description, Anne managed to reveal two things about her life in hiding. First was the vital importance of contact with the outside world, both in the form of visitors and through the medium of the radio. Second, that conversation in the hiding place, when possible, could be contentious. In all likelihood, this was because the stresses involved in hiding were high and opportunities to vent frustrations and anxieties were limited. It is not surprising that tempers were often short and that people were so eager to be heard that they talked over one another.
One of the great strengths of Anne’s diary is that she clearly reveals the struggles involved in a life in hiding.
You may read more about Anne’s life and her diary here.
Click here to read about the experiences of other children who went into hiding from the Nazis.
December 12, 2013 at 6:00 PM
FORUM Using art, music and drama as part of Holocaust education
December 17, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Religion 201: How Did We All Get Here, Anyway? with Judaism, Hinduism, & Atheism
April 30, 2014 at 6:00 PM
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