|Before You Read
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK
Make the Connection
A True Story
“I hope I shall be able to confide in you completely, as I have never been able to do in anyone before, and I hope that you will be a great support and comfort to me.”
So begins the diary of a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl named Anne Frank. Anne's diary opens in 1942 with stories of boyfriends, parties, and school life. It closes two years later, just days before Anne is captured and imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp.
Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1929. When she was four years old, her family immigrated to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to escape the anti-Jewish measures being introduced in Germany. In Amsterdam, Otto Frank, Anne's father, managed a company that sold pectin, a substance used in making jams and jellies. Anne and her older sister, Margot, enjoyed a happy, carefree childhood until May 1940, when the Netherlands capitulated (surrendered) to the invading German Army. Anne wrote in her diary about the Nazi occupation that followed:
“After May 1940, good times rapidly fled: first the war, then the capitulation, followed by the arrival of the Germans, which is when the sufferings of us Jews really began. Anti-Jewish decrees followed each other in quick succession. Jews must wear a yellow star, Jews must hand in their bicycles, Jews are banned from trains and are forbidden to drive. Jews are only allowed to do their shopping between three and five o'clock and then only in shops which bear the placard ‘Jewish shop’ Jews must be indoors by eight o'clock and cannot even sit in their own gardens after that hour. Jews are forbidden to visit theaters, cinemas, and other places of entertainment. Jews may not take part in public sports. Swimming baths, tennis courts, hockey fields, and other sports grounds are all prohibited to them. Jews may not visit Christians. Jews must go to Jewish schools, and many more restrictions of a similar kind.
So we could not do this and were forbidden to do that. But life went on in spite of it all.”
Soon, however, the situation in the Netherlands grew much worse. As in other German-occupied countries, the Nazis began rounding up Jews and transporting them to concentration camps and death camps, where prisoners died from overwork, starvation, or disease, or were murdered in gas chambers. Escaping Nazi-occupied territory became nearly impossible. Like many other Jews trapped in Europe at the time, Anne and her family went into hiding to avoid capture. Others were not so lucky, as Anne knew:
“Countless friends and acquaintances have gone to a terrible fate. Evening after evening the green and gray army lorries [trucks] trundle past. The Germans ring at every front door to inquire if
there are any Jews living in the house. If there are, then the whole family has to go at once. If they don't find any, they go on to the next house. No one has a chance of evading them unless one goes into hiding. Often they go around with lists and only ring when they know they can get a good haul. Sometimes they let them off for cash-so much per head. It seems like the slave hunts of olden times.... In the evenings when it's dark, I often see rows of good, innocent people accompanied by crying children, walking on and on, in the charge of a couple of these chaps, bullied and knocked about until they almost drop. No one is spared-old people, babies, expectant mothers, the sick-each and all join in the march of death.”
The Frank family and four other Jews lived for more than two years hidden in a few cramped rooms (now known as "the Secret Annex") behind Mr. Frank's office and warehouse. In August 1944, the Nazi police raided their hiding place and sent all eight of its occupants to concentration camps. Of the eight, only Otto Frank survived. Anne died of typhus in a camp in Germany called Bergen-Belsen. She was fifteen years old.
When she began her diary, Anne didn't intend to show it to anyone unless she found a "real friend." Through its dozens of translations and the stage adaptation you are about to read, Anne's diary has found her generations of friends all over the world.
Elements of Literature
Most of this play is told in the form of an extended flashback, framed by opening and closing scenes set at a later time. As you read Scene I, notice how the frame gives the audience important background information about the characters and their situation.
A flashback is an interruption in the present action of a plot to show events that happened at an earlier time.
For more on Flashback, see the Handbook of Literary Terms.
Reading Skills and Strategies
Dialogue with the Text: Using Resources
This text includes many resources supplying facts about this true story. They include a map, a time line, historical photographs, and entries from Anne's diary.
As you read, jot down your thoughts and feelings about the characters and what is happening to them. Be sure to note where the background resources in the text help you to understand the play. The comments on page 348 show one student's thoughts.
ANNE FRANK’S LIFE/WORLD EVENTS
June 12: Anne Frank is born in Frankfurt, Germany.
1930 - 1932
The National Socialist German Workers' (Nazi) party begins its rise to power. The Nazis proclaim the superiority of the German "master race" and blame Jews for the German defeat in World War I and for the troubled economy.
January 30: The Nazi party leader, Adolf Hitler, becomes chancellor (head of the government) of Germany.
March 10: The first concentration camp is established by the Nazis, at Dachau, Germany.
April: The Nazis pass their first anti-Jewish law, banning the public employment of Jews.
The Franks decide to leave Germany to escape Nazi persecution. While Mr. Frank looks for a new home in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the rest of the family stays with relatives in Aachen, Germany.
September 15: The Nuremberg Laws are passed, denying Jews German citizenship and forbidding marriage between Jews and non-Jews.
October 25: Germany and Italy form an alliance (the Axis).
Summer: The Van Pels family (called the Van Daans in Anne's diary) flee Germany for the Netherlands.
December 8: Fritz Pfeffer (called Albert Dussel in Anne's diary) flees Germany for the Netherlands.
March 12-13: The German Army invades and annexes Austria.
September 29-30: The Munich Agreement, granting Germany the right to annex part of Czechoslovakia, is drafted and signed by representatives from France, Great Britain, Italy, and Germany.
November 9-10: Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass). Led by the SS, the Nazi special police, Germans beat and kill Jews, loot Jewish stores, and burn synagogues.
March: Germany invades and occupies most of Czechoslovakia.
September 1: Germany invades Poland. France and Great Britain declare war on Germany two days later.
Spring: Germany invades Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.
September 27: Japan joins the Axis.
June 22: Germany invades the Soviet Union.
December: The United States enters the war on the side of the Allied nations (including Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and other countries) after Japan attacks the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor.
June 12: Anne receives a diary for her thirteenth birthday.
July 6: The Franks go into hiding after Margot receives an order to appear for deportation to a labor camp in Germany. The Van Pels family joins them one week later.
November 16: Fritz Pfeffer becomes the eighth occupant of the Secret Annex.
January: The "Final Solution" is secretly announced at a conference of Nazi officials: Europe's Jews are to be "exterminated," or murdered. Construction of death camps, equipped with gas chambers and huge incinerators for mass killing and cremation, begins in Poland. Millions of people (Jews and non-Jews) will die in these camps.
August 4: Nazi police raid the Secret Annex; the occupants are sent to concentration camps.
September: Mr. Van Pels dies in Auschwitz.
December 20: Fritz Pfeffer dies in Neuengamme.
June 6: D-day. Allied forces land in Normandy, in northern France, and launch an invasion of western Europe.
Anne's mother, Edith Frank, dies in Auschwitz. Three weeks later Otto Frank is freed when Auschwitz is liberated by the Soviet Army. Anne and Margot die in Bergen-Belsen a few weeks before British soldiers liberate the camp. Peter Van Pels dies in Mauthausen. Mrs. Van Pets dies in Theresienstadt.
May 8: The war in Europe ends with Germany's unconditional surrender to the Allies.
August 14: Japan surrenders after the United States drops atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Anne. Dear Diary, My name is Anne Frank. I am thirteen years old. Yesterday Father told me we were going into hiding.
The Diary of Anne Frank
Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
Occupants of the Secret Annex:
Margot Frank, her older sister
Mr. Frank, their father
Mrs. Frank, their mother
Peter Van Daan
Mr. Van Daan, his father
Mrs. Van Daan, his mother
Mr. Dussel, a dentist
Workers in Mr. Frank's Business:
Miep Gies,1 a young Dutchwoman
Mr. Kraler,2 a Dutchman
Setting: Amsterdam, the Netherlands, July 1942 to August 1944; November 1945.
1. Miep Gies.
Dialogue with the Text
I forgot the proper name of this comparison: "roof of the building is outlined against a sea of other rooftops."
"Marching feet." Are there soldiers around here? What canal is it?
Why are the windows painted or covered?
Why is the door concealed with a bookcase?
This must be the owner of the place.
The scene remains the same throughout the play. It is the top floor of a warehouse and office building in Amsterdam, Holland. The sharply peaked roof of the building is outlined against a sea of other rooftops stretching away into the distance. Nearby is the belfry of a church tower, the Westertoren, whose carillon 3 rings out the hours. occasionally faint sounds float up from below: the voices of children playing in the street, the tramp of marching feet, a boat whistle from the canal. 4
The three rooms of the top floor and a small attic space above are exposed to our view. The largest of the rooms is in the center, with two small rooms, slightly raised, on either side. On the right is a bathroom, out of sight. A narrow, steep flight of stairs at the back leads up to the attic. The rooms are sparsely furnished, with a few chairs, cots, a table or two. The windows are painted over or covered with makeshift blackout curtains. In the main room there is a sink, a gas ring for cooking, and a wood-burning stove for warmth.
The room on the left is hardly more than a closet. There is a skylight in the sloping ceiling. Directly under this room is a small, steep stairwell, with steps leading down to a door. This is the only entrance from the building below. When the door is opened, we see that it has been concealed on the outer side by a bookcase attached to it.
The curtain rises on an empty stage. It is late afternoon, November 1945.
The rooms are dusty, the curtains in rags. Chairs and tables are overturned.
The door at the foot of the small stairwell swings open. MR. FRANK comes up the steps into view. He is a gentle, cultured European in his middle years. There is still a trace of a German accent in his speech.
He stands looking slowly around, making a supreme effort at self-control. He is weak, ill. His clothes are threadbare.
After a second he drops his rucksack on the couch and
3. carillon: set of bells each of which produces a single tone.
4. canal: artificial waterway. Amsterdam, which was built on soggy ground, has more than one hundred canals, built to help drain the land. The canals are used like streets.
moves slowly about. He opens the door to one of the smaller rooms and then abruptly closes it again, turning away. He goes to the window at the back, looking off at the Westertoren as its carillon strikes the hour of six; then he moves restlessly on.
From the street below we hear the sound of a barrel organ and children's voices at play. There is a many-colored scarf hanging from a nail. MR. FRANK takes it, putting it around his neck. As he starts back for his rucksack, his eye is caught by something lying on the floor. It is a woman's white glove. He holds it in his hand and suddenly all of his self-control is gone. He breaks down crying.
We hear footsteps on the stairs. MIEP GIES comes up, looking for MR. FRANK. MIEP is a Dutchwoman of about twenty-two. She wears a coat and hat, ready to go home. She is pregnant. Her attitude toward MR. FRANK is protective, compassionate.
Miep. Are you all right, Mr. Frank?
Mr. Frank (quickly controlling himself ). Yes, Miep, yes.
Miep. Everyone in the office has gone home. ... It's after six. (Then, pleading) Don't stay up here, Mr. Frank. What's the use of torturing yourself like this?
Mr. Frank. I've come to say goodbye ... I'm leaving here, Miep.
Miep. What do you mean? Where are you going? Where?
Mr. Frank. I don't know yet. I haven't decided.
Miep. Mr. Frank, you can't leave here! This is your home! Amsterdam is your home. Your business is here, waiting for you.... You're needed here.... Now that the war is over, there are things that ...
Mr. Frank. I can't stay in Amsterdam, Miep. It has too many memories for me. Everywhere, there's something . . . the house we lived in . . . the school . . . that street organ playing out there . . . I'm not the person you used to know, Miep. I'm a bitter old man. (Breaking off) Forgive me. I shouldn't speak to you like this . . . after all that you did for us . . . the suffering . . .
Miep. No. No. It wasn't suffering. You can't say we suffered. (As she speaks, she straightens a chair which is overturned.)
Mr. Frank. I know what you went through, you and Mr. Kraler. I'll remember it as long as I live. (He gives one last look around.) Come, Miep. (He starts for the steps, then remembers his rucksack, going back to get it.)
Miep (hurrying up to a cupboard). Mr. Frank, did you see? There are some of your papers here. (She brings a bundle of papers to him.) We found them in a heap of rubbish on the floor after . . . after you left.
Mr. Frank. Burn them. (He opens his rucksack to put the glove in it.)
Miep. But, Mr. Frank, there are letters, notes . . . Mr. Frank. Burn them. All of them.
Miep. Burn this? (She hands him a paperbound notebook.)
Mr. Frank (quietly). Anne's diary. (He opens the diary and begins to read.) "Monday, the sixth of July, nineteen forty-two." (TO MIEP) Nineteen forty-two. Is it possible, Miep? ... Only three years ago. (As he continues his reading, he sits down on the couch.) "Dear Diary, since you and I are going to be great friends, I will start by telling you about myself. My name is Anne Frank. I am thirteen years old. I was born in Germany the twelfth of June, nineteen twenty-nine. As my family is Jewish, we emigrated to Holland when Hitler came to power."
[As MR. FRANK reads on, another voice joins his, as if coming from the air. It is ANNE'S voice. ]
Mr. Frank and Anne's Voice. "My father started a business, importing spice and herbs. Things went well for us until nineteen forty. Then the war came, and the Dutch capitulation, followed by the arrival of the Germans. Then things got very bad for the Jews."
[MR. FRANKS voice dies out. ANNE'S voice continues alone. The lights dim slowly to darkness. The curtain falls on the scene. ]
Anne's Voice. You could not do this and you could not do that. They forced Father out of his business. We had to wear yellow stars. 5 I had to turn in my bike. I couldn't go to a Dutch school anymore. I couldn't go to the movies or ride in an automobile or even on a streetcar, an a million other things. But somehow we children still managed to have fun. Yesterday Father told me we were going into hiding. Where, he wouldn't say. At five o'clock this morning Mother woke me and told me to hurry and get dressed. I was to put on as many clothes as I could. It would look too suspicious if we walked along carying suitcases. It wasn't until we were on our way that I learned where we were going. Our hiding place was to be upstairs in he building where Father used to have his business. Three other people were coming in with us . . . The Van Daans and their son Peter . . . Father knew the Van Daans but we had never et them. . . .
[During the last lines the curtain rises on he scene. The lights dim on. ANNE'S voice fades out.]
It is early morning, July 1942. The rooms are bare, as before, but they are now clean and orderly.
MR. VAN DAAN, a tall, portly man in his late forties, is in the main room, pacing up and down, nervously smoking a cigarette. is clothes and overcoat are expensive and well cut.
MRS. VAN DAAN sits on the couch, clutching her possessions: a hatbox, bags, etc. She i a pretty woman in her early forties. She wears a fur coat over her other clothes.
PETER VAN DANN is standing at the window of the room on the right, looking down at he street below. He is a shy, awkward boy of sixteen. He wears a cap, a raincoat, and long
5. yellow stars: The Nazis ordered all Jews to sew a large Star of David (a six-pointed star) on their outer clothing so that they could be easily recognized as Jews.
Dutch trousers, like plus fours.6 At his feet is a black case, a carrier for his cat.
The yellow Star of David is conspicuous on all of their clothes.
Mrs. Van Daan (rising, nervous, excited). Something's happened to them! I know it! Mr. Van Daan. Now, Kerli!
Mrs. Van Daan. Mr. Frank said they'd be here at seven o'clock. He said ...
Mr. Van Daan. They have two miles to walk. You can't expect ...
Mrs. Van Daan. They've been picked up. That's what's happened. They've been taken . . .
[MR. VAN DAAN indicates that he hears someone coming.]
Mr. Van Daan. You see?
[PETER takes up his carrier and his school bag, etc., and goes into the main room as rut. FRANK comes up the stairwell from below. MR. FRANK looks much younger now. His movements are brisk, his manner confident. He wears an overcoat and carries his hat and a small cardboard box. He crosses to the VAN DAANS, shaking hands with each of them.]
Mr. Frank. Mrs. Van Daan, Mr. Van Daan, Peter. (Then, in explanation of their lateness) There were too many of the Green Police 7 on
6. plus fours: baggy trousers that end in cuffs just below the knees.
7. Green Police: Nazi police, who wore green uniforms.
WORDS TO OWN
conspicuous adj.: obvious; noticeable.
Scene from the movie The Diary o f Anne Frank (1959), starring Millie Perkins as Anne. Other scenes from the movie appear throughout the play.
the streets . . . we had to take the long way around.
[Up the steps come MARGOT FRANK, MRS. FRANK, MIEP (not pregnant now), and MR. KRALER. All of them carry bags, packages, and so forth. The Star of David is conspicuous on all of the FRANKS' clothing. MARGOT is eighteen, beautiful, quiet, shy. MRS. FRANK is a young mother, gently bred, reserved. She, like MR. FRANK, has a slight German accent. MR. KRALER is a Dutchman, dependable, kindly.
AS MR. KRALER and MIEP go upstage to put down their parcels, MRS. FRANK turns back to call ANNE.]
Mrs. Frank. Anne?
[ANNE comes running up the stairs. She is thirteen, quick in her movements, interested in everything, mercurial g in her emotions. She wears a cape and long wool socks and carries a school bag.]
Mr. Frank (introducing them). My wife, Edith. Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan (MRS. FRANK hurries over, shaking hands with them.) ... their son, Peter . . . my daughters, Margot and Anne.
[ANNE gives a polite little curtsy as she shakes MR. VAN DAAN's hand. Then she immediately starts off on a tour of investigation of her new home, going upstairs to the attic room.
M1EP and MR. KRALER are putting the various things they have brought on the shelves.]
Mr. Kraler. I'm sorry there is still so much confusion.
Mr. Frank. Please. Don't think of it. After all, we'll have plenty of leisure to arrange everything ourselves.
Miep (to MRS. FRANK). We put the stores of food you sent in here. Your drugs are here . . . soap, linen here.
Mrs. Frank. Thank you, Miep.
Miep. I made up the beds . . . the way Mr. Frank and Mr. Kraler said. (She starts out.) Forgive me. I have to hurry. I've got to go to the other side of town to get some ration books 9 for you.
Mrs. Van Daan. Ration books? If they see our names on ration books, they'll know we're here.
Mr. Kraler. There isn't anything . . .
Miep. Don't worry. Your names won't be on them. (As she hurries out) I'll be up later.
Mr. Frank. Thank you, Miep.
Mrs. Frank (to MR. KRALER). It's illegal, then, the ration books? We've never done anything illegal.
Mr. Frank. We won't be living here exactly according to regulations.
[AS MR. KRALER reassures MRS. FRANK, he takes various small things, such as matches and soap, from his pockets, handing them to her. Mr. Kraler. This isn't the black market, 10 Mrs. Frank. This is what we call the white market . . . helping all of the hundreds and hundreds who are hiding out in Amsterdam.
[The carillon is heard playing the quarter-hour before eight. MR. KRALER looks at his watch. ANNE stops at the window as she comes down the stairs.]