Anne Frank’s parents give her a diary on her thirteenth birthday. She is excited. She named it ‘Kitty’. At last, she has found something or someone to confide all her secret thoughts in. She is generally misunderstood by everyone she knows. At least, Anne thinks so. So she starts writing her diary. She writes about her school, her grades, friends and boys at the school. Within a month, she feels as if their whole life has undergone a sea-change.
During the Second World War, Holland is overrun and occupied by Nazi Germany. One day, Nazi police sent a call-up notice to her sister Margot. It meant her deportation to a concentration camp. The Frank-family fears for their lives. Anne and her family go into hiding. They move into a little section of her father’s office building. This portion is walled off and hidden behind a swinging bookcase.
The secret annexe is going to be the hiding place of Anne’s family and four others for the next two years. Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan and their son Peter share the place with the Franks. Later on, Mr. Dussel, an elderly dentist also moves in. Anne has to share her bedroom with him. She resents constantly but without any success. Anne’s adolescence doesn’t find time and space to bloom naturally. She is shut up in a hole hidden from the outside world. She is cooped up in tiny rooms. The day is spent in ‘tiptoeing around’ and doing nothing worthwhile.
- She is excited to have someone to confide all her secret thoughts in.
- The diary becomes her companion and a way for her to express herself.
- Naming her diary 'Kitty' shows the importance and connection she feels towards it.
The bombs and gunfire shell-shock the young girl at night. Anne is very fond of reading. Fortunately, the Franks have ‘tons of reading material and a radio-set’. It helps not only in keeping herself gainfully engaged during her hide but also enriches her mind. She is enlightened about literature, history and contemporary politics. It’s impossible that a girl of her age may never think about love. We see a real change coming in Anne when she begins hanging out in the attic with Peter Van Daan. It is around this time when her imagination takes wings. She dreams about a boy she was in love with. He was another Peter, Peter Schiff. She now becomes more conscious of her being a ‘girl’ and Peter Van Daan as a ‘boy’. She wants him to be sensitive and caring and does find him so sometimes. They talk about everything, including sex. It takes some time when their relationship changes. Their youthful passions turn into a deep friendship. They try to give comfort and peace to each other in such hard and trying times.
A stage comes when the War seems to be ending. At least, there is hope in Europe. And with it is linked with their survival and redemption. One day in 1944, Gerrit Bolkestein, a member of the Dutch government in exile, announced that after the war he hoped to collect eyewitness accounts of the sufferings of the Dutch people under the German occupation. She realises that personal accounts such as her diary will be in demand. Anne particularly dislikes the frivolous Mrs. Van Daan. She also complains that the grownups don’t understand and sympathise with her. Anne tells ‘Kitty’ how her Jewish friends are being taken away by the dozens. They are being loaded into cattle trucks and sent to concentration camps. The conditions under which they live are really miserable. Her daddy gets sick but they can’t call a doctor. Anne feels frustrated most of the times that she is criticised so often. She hates Mr. Dussel as he is too stubborn. She doesn’t like to say her prayers with her Mummy. She finds her too cold, indifferent and unresponsive. She also gets jealous of Margot sometimes. Anne reads a book on puberty and longs to have her periods. They can’t sleep because of the air-raids. Their food is basic and unhealthy. She has become sick of eating the terribly dry bread, spinach and rotten potatoes for dinner. She longs for fresh air. She hopes that the darkness and cruelty of the war will subside. She craves for beauty, safety and freedom. She has faith that God will raise them out of suffering. She is often downcast but never in despair.
- She complains about Mrs. Van Daan's behavior and does not appreciate her attitude.
- Anne feels that Mrs. Van Daan does not understand and sympathize with her.
- This dislike adds to Anne's frustration and contributes to the strained atmosphere in the attic.
Anne celebrates her fifteenth birthday. She wishes she would look at nature more often, and not through a dirty window. She often becomes disappointed with Peter. She still believes that people are really good at heart. She has a deeper and pure side which the people around her ignore. They consider that she is superficial. On August 4, 1944, the Secret Annexe is raided. They are taken away to German and Dutch concentration camps, where all of them die except Mr. Frank.
|1. What is the main theme of "The Diary of Anne Frank"?|
|2. What is the significance of Anne Frank's diary?|
|3. How does Anne Frank's diary contribute to our understanding of the Holocaust?|
|4. What lessons can we learn from "The Diary of Anne Frank"?|
|5. How did "The Diary of Anne Frank" become widely known?|