Anne Frank: December 24, 1941

One of Anne Frank’s great strengths as a diarist was her ability to express her emotions through her writing. As a result, we can read about the events that occurred during her time in hiding and also begin to understand the trauma she felt as a result of her circumstances. This understanding allows us to recognize that hiding from the Nazis was not only a strategy, but also a decision that imposed real costs on the people involved.

On December 24th, Anne wrote about how conflicted she felt about her life in hiding. “As I’ve written many times before, moods have a tendency to affect us quite a bit in here, and in my case it’s been getting worse lately. […] I’m ‘on top of the world’ when I think of how fortunate we are and compare myself to other Jewish children, and in ‘the depth of despair’ when, for example, Mrs. Kleiman comes by and talks about Jopie’s hockey club, canoe trips, school plays and afternoon teas with friends.”

Anne was an outgoing person. It pained her to be cooped-up day after day without the activities and the companionship of friends that she had enjoyed in normal times. At the same time, she felt guilty about these feelings. She wrote, “Believe me, if you’ve been shut up for a year and a half, it can get to be too much for you sometimes. But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem. I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I’m free, and yet I can’t let it show. Just imagine what would happen if all eight of us were to feel sorry for ourselves or walk around with the discontent clearly visible on our faces. Where would that get us?”

Anne understood that she needed to keep these feelings concealed to keep peace in the hiding place and to refrain from presenting another problem to the helpers that they would be unable to fix. She also knew, however, that she would have to pay a price in terms of her emotional health to maintain the fiction that everything was fine. Part of that price was to experience guilt over emotions that were perfectly understandable and normal. She finished this line of thought with the following lament; “I sometimes wonder if anyone will ever understand what I mean, if anyone will ever overlook my ingratitude and not worry about whether or not I’m Jewish and merely see me as a teenager badly in need of some good plain fun.”

Anne expressed herself perfectly on this issue, but only in the privacy of her diary. As a result, we are in a better position to understand her perspective and to overlook some of the times when her words or actions seemed less than grateful or mature. She has contributed to our understanding of the true costs involved in hiding.

Click here to explore an online exhibition about hiding from the Nazis entitled, “Life in Shadows: Hidden Children and the Holocaust.”

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