The journal opens with a brief preface on June 12th – Anne Frank's 13th birthday. "I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone," Anne writes. Anne adds a note in September 1942, admitting that the journal has been a "great source of comfort."
This preface offers a glimpse of Anne's journey. Driven by isolation and her intense longing for a true friend, Anne turns to her journal for comfort. These feelings of isolation are part of her journey from childhood to adolescence, even before she and her family move to hide in the Annex.
Anne's journal officially begins on Sunday, June 14 – two days after her birthday. She writes excitedly of the many presents she received from her family and friends. Besides her new journal, Anne receives a heap of treasures, including a bouquet of roses, a puzzle, cold cream, and books. She mentions two girls who "used to be" her best friends: Hanneli Goslar and Jacqueline van Maarsen.
We're introduced to Anne just as she begins her journey from childhood to adolescence. This depiction of her carefree, innocent, and relatively luxurious birthday party, will stand in stark contrast to her life in hiding – she will feel deep nostalgia for her former life.
Anne goes on to describe her classmates at the Jewish Lyceum. She notes that Jacqueline "is supposedly my best friend, but I've never had a real friend." She lists a dozen of her classmates, offering a brief character sketch of each. She reveals that she has several admirers among her male classmates.
Anne's feelings of isolation are becoming more evident here. She makes it clear that even though she's surrounded by numerous friends and admirers, she still feels alone. Later on, she'll remember these classmates with survivor's guilt, given that many (if not all of them) went on to die in concentration camps.
One week after her birthday, Anne returns to the idea that she feels friendless. "No," she writes, "on the surface I seem to have everything, except my one true friend." As a means of resolving this problem, Anne decides to name her diary Kitty. "I want the diary to be my friend," she writes.
She then goes on to offer a brief sketch of her life up until the present day. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1926, and her family moved to Holland when she was four in order to escape the growing anti-Semitism in Germany. Her father is the founder and Managing Director of the Dutch Opekta Company. Anne writes of the struggles faced by her family back in Germany, and of the German invasion of Holland. She describes the many restrictions on Jewish freedom under the Nazis. "You couldn't do this and you couldn't do that, but life went on." She notes that her beloved grandmother died in 1942. "The four of us are still doing well," she adds.
Even though the Nazi regime has been oppressing her family (and all the Jews in Holland) slowly and steadily since the invasion, Anne is still too young to realize the full impact of the war on her life and the lives of those around her. As she grows older, her view of the war and the suffering of the Jews will deepen and grow.
In another entry on the same day (this time addressed to Kitty), Anne describes how she's formed a Ping Pong club with a few of her school friends, and describes the innocent, flirty attentions of her "admirers" (schoolboys who walk her home from school and buy her ice cream). Anne closes the entry by declaring, "There you are. We've now laid the basis for our friendship."
The Anne of this entry is the Anne that she will later refer to as "the first Anne," or Anne's outer self. While the basis for Anne's friendship with Kitty here is based on dishing about boys, her ideas about intimacy and friendship will evolve as she grows older.
The following day, Anne writes more about her school. Students in her class are terribly frightened because it will soon be decided whether they can go on to the next grade. Anne describes how one of her teachers repeatedly punished and teased her (in a good-natured way) for being a "chatterbox."
Another entry that offers a stark contrast to life after Anne goes into hiding. In Anne's life prior to going into hiding, all she and her classmates have to be afraid of is not going on to the next grade. Soon, the real terror will involve being caught by the Nazis.
On June 24th, Anne complains of the sweltering heat, noting that she's forced to walk given that Jews are no longer allowed to ride in streetcars. She meets a new admirer – a local 16-year-old named Hello Silberberg.
It's worth contrasting Anne's suffering in this passage with Anne's suffering later on. In these early days before she goes into hiding, Anne's suffering is little more than an annoying walk in hot weather.
On July 1st, Anne writes that she's spent quite a bit of time with Hello. Hello reveals that his grandmother has forbidden him to see Anne, given their age difference. Hello decides to disobey his grandmother, and continues to see Anne in secret. He meets Anne's parents, and Anne's family approves of him. Anne, however, secretly feels dissatisfied with Hello. She reveals in her diary that she longs for another boy, Peter Schiff, whom she loves "as she's never loved anyone."
In this passage, we're introduced to Peter Schiff – the boy that, in Anne's mind, becomes the symbolic ideal of true love, one that she will never quite attain. The notion of how people present themselves to authority figures is introduced here as well – just as Peter fibs to his grandmother in this passage, so will Anne's family have to lie to the authorities in order to stay alive later on.
July 5th. Anne receives her report card – she's gotten average grades. Although Anne's parents are satisfied, Anne wishes to become a better student. Anne takes a walk with her father, and Mr. Frank tells Anne that the family will probably have to go into hiding.
Anne's desire to be a better student foreshadows her eventual desire to be a better person. Her father's conversation foreshadows the family's impending confinement in the Annex.
July 8th. Anne's life has been turned upside down. Shortly after she finished her last entry, the Franks get a message. Her sister Margot receives the message, and at first tells Anne that Mr. Frank has received a "call-up." Margot later reveals that the "call-up" was, in fact, for herself. The Frank family resolves to go into hiding along with their friends, the van Daan family.
In order to survive, the Frank family is forced to lie to the authorities. In a way, the family must hide its private (true) self from the world in order to survive. It's also worth noting that Margot is eager to protect Anne from the potentially devastating truth that the call-up was for Margot herself, not for Mr. Frank.
With the help of Miep Gies (a secretary at Mr. Frank's workplace), Miep's husband Jan, Mr. Kleiman (an employee of Mr. Frank's), and Mr. van Daan (the head of the van Daan household and a friend of Mr. Frank's), the Frank family pack up their belongings as quickly as they can and flee their apartment. They leave behind their beloved cat, Moortje.
Helping the Franks places their Christian friends (Miep, Jan, and Mr. Kleiman) in unspeakable danger. This is the first of many demonstrations of selfless generosity on those friends' part. This marks the beginning of the Frank family's real suffering in WWII.
July 9th. Anne continues her story of the family's escape. The scene opens with the Frank family walking in the rain. Each family member is wearing numerous layers of clothing and carries their belongings in shopping bags and schoolbags (they didn't want to arouse suspicion by carrying suitcases). Anne's parents reveal that the family will hide in Mr. Frank's office building, given that the few people who worked there were all sympathetic to the Franks' plight. Anne goes on to describe the Secret Annex – a spacious suite of rooms situated in the upper floors of the building.
Anne's attitude toward their circumstances is still quite innocent at this point. Anne doesn't seem to understand the gravity of the situation – her family has just given up their home, not just temporarily, but for good. Anne seems to view these happenings as a harmless adventure. These feelings will change as time goes on. Meanwhile, Mr. Frank's employees (who have a better understanding of the risks involved in this situation) continue to show incredible generosity in the face of possible imprisonment and death.
July 10th. Anne continues her story. With the help of Miep, the Franks move into the Annex. The Annex is strewn with cardboard boxes full of the Franks' belongings. Mrs. Frank and Margot are overcome with exhaustion, but Mr. Frank and Anne set to work tidying up the Annex. They continue cleaning and unpacking for the next two days.
Given that Margot is older and wiser, it's safe to say that she has a better understanding of the danger the family is in. Although Anne doesn't seem to comprehend it, Margot and Mrs. Frank are clearly overwhelmed by the anxiety that they'll be discovered.
July 11th. Anne observes that, to her, life in the Annex feels like a "vacation in some strange" hotel. She pastes her postcard and movie-star collection on the walls of her bedroom. Margot and Mrs. Frank have calmed down a bit, but the family is still on edge. While the Franks listen to the nightly radio broadcast downstairs in the private office outside of the Annex, Anne begs her father to take her back upstairs (she fears they're being too loud). Margot is forbidden to cough at night, even though she has a cold. In a comment added on September 2nd, 1942, Anne adds that being in confinement is very upsetting: "I'm terrified our hiding place will be discovered and we'll be shot."
Even though she still innocently feels like her time in the Annex is like an odd vacation, it's clear that the dangers of the war are becoming more real to Anne with every day that passes. The pressures of isolation and secrecy are beginning to take their toll on the family's mental and physical health, and Anne herself how seems to realize that the stakes for her family and for her are life and death.
July 12th. Anne complains that her mother picks on her and favors Margot. For instance, Mrs. Frank doesn't complain when Margot breaks the vacuum cleaner, but snaps at Anne when she rewrites something on Mrs. Frank's shopping list. "I don't fit in with them," Anne observes. Anne longs for Moortje, dreaming that they'll be reunited someday. "I have plenty of dreams," she writes, "but the reality is that we'll have to stay here until the war is over." In a comment added in September 1942, Anne adds that her father understands her best, and that she wishes she could confide in him.
The confinement of the Annex has created a pressure-cooker atmosphere, and this has only exacerbated Anne's feelings of isolation. The adults around her seem to be venting their war-related stress and frustration on her – and it may be that Anne is taking things more personally as well, given the stress of confinement. Anne's innocent optimism is already becoming more nuanced – the realities of war are forcing her to revise her dreams.
August 14th. A month has passed, and the van Daans have moved into the Annex. Their 15-year-old son, Peter van Daan, seems awkward and uninteresting. Mr. van Daan tells the Franks that their escape plan seems to have worked: the man who rented the Franks' apartment after they fled found a slip of paper with a false address on it, and was convinced (with some nudging from Mr. van Daan) that the Franks were headed to Switzerland. The Franks find this highly amusing.
Although at first Peter seems dull and uninteresting, Anne's opinions of him will evolve and grow both as she matures and gets to know the "real" Peter better. Meanwhile, the Frank family has had to assume a different outer self in order to evade the Nazis.
August 21st. A bookcase is built in front of the door to the Annex. Life in the Annex is otherwise dull, though tensions are rising among its inhabitants. Anne complains that she's "always at loggerheads" with Mr. van Daan, and that her mother continues to pick on her. Anne continues to find Peter obnoxious.
The bookcase hiding the door to the Annex could be seen as a parallel to the outer and inner selves of the various Annex dwellers. Anne is becoming more aware of how selfish and petty the adults around her can be.
September 2nd. Tensions continue to rise. Mr. van Daan and Mrs. van Daan have a loud argument. Peter is convinced that he has various illnesses. Mrs. Frank and Mrs. van Daan bicker over communal linens and the use of the van Daan's china. There is a bit of a kerfuffle over an "adult" book – Peter sneaks off to read it several times, much to his parents' dismay.
Confinement is taking its toll on the Annex dwellers in different ways. In the case of Mr. and Mrs. van Daan, confinement has forced them to shed their "polite" outer selves and reveal their argumentative sides. Like Anne, Peter seems to be quite curious about love and sex.
September 21st. A lamp has been mounted over Anne's bed, so she can switch it on when she hears gunfire. Mr. van Daan and Peter have built a food safe for the Annex. Mrs. van Daan, according to Anne, is "unbearable," and is trying to get out of washing dishes (leaving the dirty work to Margot). Mr. Kleiman, meanwhile, has been bringing books to the Annex for Anne, and Anne has resumed her studies with vigor.
Even though the van Daans can exhibit selfish behavior, Mr. van Daan and Peter were decidedly generous in building a food safe for communal use in the Annex. The Annex's Christian helpers continue to be incredibly generous. It would have been enough to provide food; books are a welcome luxury.
September 25th. The van Daans playfully ask Anne if she'll ever "love Peter like a brother," and Anne is mortified. The men of the Annex devise a clever plan to send a message to a friend of Mr. Frank, in order to let him know that the Franks are still alive.
The war again forces the Franks to adopt false selves in order to survive (in this case, to let others know they've survived). Anne's feelings of embarrassment are part and parcel with adolescence.
September 27th. Mrs. Frank and Anne argue about what life after the war might be like, and Anne bursts into tears. She reflects on how much closer she is to her father than to her mother, and how her relationship with Margot isn't as strong as it might be, either. Mrs. van Daan is "sulking," and has been hiding her belongings from the Franks. The van Daans have taken to criticizing Anne's behavior – at dinner, Mrs. van Daan scolds Anne for not taking enough vegetables. Mr. Frank calmly replies that Mrs. van Daan is guilty of the same behavior.
Anne's feelings of isolation and her feeling that she has trouble relating to those who are supposedly closest to her are, again, pivotal to adolescent experience. In questioning her relationship with her mother, Anne is in the process of defining herself. The pressures of confinement continue to drive the adults in the Annex to act in surprisingly childish ways, much to Anne's chagrin.
September 28th. Anne wonders why adults bicker about petty things; up until life in the Annex, she thought this was something only children did. In an aside, Anne says she's "astonished" by the rudeness of the adults toward her, and vows to get revenge someday. She then relates an incident in which the van Daans openly criticized Anne's parents on their child-rearing methods. Toward the end of their argument, Mrs. van Daan catches a glimpse of Anne, who is shaking her head in amazement. Mrs. van Daan then takes out her anger on Anne, leaving Anne to conclude, "You only really get to know a person after a fight."
Although Anne's feelings of isolation have been with her since before her time in the Annex (and, indeed, these feelings are central to adolescent experience), the petty behavior of the adults around her (particularly on the part of Mrs. van Daan) only works to exacerbate these feelings. The way Anne deals with Mrs. van Daan's antagonistic behavior will evolve as time goes on. (The more mature Anne, for instance, won't long for revenge.)
October 1st. The doorbell rings in the middle of the night, sending Anne into a panic – it turns out to be nothing. Still, tensions run high. The denizens of the Annex are forced to be still and quiet for hours on end while a new pharmacist works with Mr. Kugler (an ally of the Franks, and one of Opekta's employees) in the kitchen. Anne begins to notice that Mrs. van Daan flirts with Mr. Frank. Anne has taken to teasing Margot about being "a paragon of virtue," which annoys Margot greatly.
Anne's guilty of the same behavior as Mrs. van Daan. This scene is exemplary of Anne's immaturity – she'll examine and regulate her own behavior more carefully as time passes. Anne is puzzled and embarrassed by Mrs. van Daan's flirtatious behavior – why would adults act this way? The war continues to keep everyone's nerves on edge.
October 3rd. Anne is teased by the Franks and the van Daans for innocently lying down in bed next to Mr. van Daan. Anne finds their teasing silly. Anne and her mother are at odds again, and Anne tells her father that she loves him more than she does Mrs. Frank. He insists that it's a passing phase, but Anne's not convinced. Anne reads a "grown-up" book called Eva's Youth – the book involves discussions of pregnancy, prostitution, and menstruation. Anne longs to get her period. "[T]hen I'll really be grown up," she writes.
Even if Anne still feels like a child, the adults around her anticipate that she'll soon become an adolescent. (And, in doing so, they made a creepy joke about Anne wanting to sleep with Mr. van Daan!) Anne is mystified by adult sexuality, and learns quite a bit from Eva's Youth. She makes the assumption (commonly held by pre-teen girls) that menstruation will make her an adult. At the same time, in some ways the childish behavior of the adults makes Anne's belief accurate, but not in the way she thinks—the adults are not as "adult" as Anne imagines them to be. No adult is.
October 7th. Anne has a fantasy in which she goes to Switzerland. In this fantasy, she shares a room with her father, and uses the other room to "receive visitors." Anne fantasizes that her living quarters will have all new furniture, and that Mr. Frank will give her 150 guilders. Anne fantasizes about all the things she would buy with this allowance.
Anne's fantasy of living in Switzerland with her father can be seen as both Freudian (it's an Electra complex-style fantasy, in which she shares a bedroom with her father – effectively, she imagines being his wife) and a desire to escape the harsh conditions of WWII.
October 9th. Anne learns that the Gestapo have been sending the Franks' Jewish friends to Westerbork, a concentration camp in Drenthe, a province in the Netherlands. Anne recounts an incident in which the Gestapo left an elderly Jewish woman on Miep's doorstep. The woman was terrified, but Miep was too frightened of the Gestapo to help her. "Fine specimens of humanity, those Germans," observes Anne, "and to think I'm actually one of them!" Anne quickly takes this back, given that Hitler took away the Jews' German nationality long ago. "And besides," Anne adds, "there are no greater enemies on earth than the Germans and the Jews."
Anne begins to realize how lucky she and her family are compared to those they left behind. This can also be seen as the beginning of her feelings of survivor's guilt. In spite of Miep's generosity toward the Franks and the van Daans, the war (and fear of the Nazis) drives her to do something wildly inhumane and out of character. Anne begins to questions her identity – is she still German? Or is she just Jewish now? Can she ever be both German and Jewish?
October 20th. After a few peaceful days, in which Anne was getting along very well with her family (including her mother and Margot), there's a big scare in the Annex. A carpenter makes a surprise visit to fill the fire extinguishers in the office building, and the Annex dwellers are startled by the sound of hammering just outside the bookcase that serves as their door.
The uneasy peace of the Annex is easily shattered with the intrusion of the outside world and the threat of discovery – in this case, in the form of an unwitting carpenter.
November 2nd. Anne thinks she's going to get her period soon, given that she keeps finding a "whitish smear" in her panties. "Too bad I can't use sanitary napkins," Anne writes, "but you can't get them anymore." In a note from January 22, 1944, a more mature Anne remarks that she wouldn't be able to write "that kind of thing" anymore. She's surprised by her "childish innocence." "Deep down, I know I could never be that innocent again, however much I'd like to be," she writes. She also cringes a bit at the "indelicate" nature of her descriptions of bodily functions. She reflects that she still relates to the younger Anne's homesickness, as well as her desire for "trust, love, and physical affection."
Anne's fascination with the way her body is changing is part of her journey into adolescence and part of her own sexual awakening. The note from an older, wiser Anne gives us insight into how much she will grow and change over the course of the next year. Anne's relentless self-examination is an example of her increased maturity, and it's also part of her attempt to define herself as an individual. The fact that she cringes at some of her descriptions shows how she's rejected some of her childish ways of viewing the world. Meanwhile, the lack of sanitary napkins shows how the war impacts all aspects of life, even the most personal and prosaic.
November 7th. Anne and Mrs. Frank are at odds again. Anne is unfairly scolded by her parents for reading a book that Margot had momentarily set down. Anne wonders why her parents are so partial to Margot. She especially wonders why her father gives Margot preferential treatment. Although she feels a "gnawing ache inside" when she sees her father shower affection on Margot, Anne asserts that she isn't jealous. "It's just that I'd like to feel that Father really loves me, not because I'm his child, but because I'm me, Anne."
Anne is frustrated on two levels. On one level, she's frustrated that her parents are treating her unfairly – another example, perhaps, of adults acting in less-than-adult ways. On another, perhaps more important, level, Anne is frustrated because she's discovered within herself a desire to be loved on a deep, intimate level—not based on the role she plays but based on who she is as a person.
Anne then reflects on her relationship with her mother. "She's not a mother to me," she concludes. "I have to mother myself." Anne goes on to conclude that she'll have to learn how to be a good person on her own, without her parents' guidance. Anne chafes at the way her parents treat her like a child. "I am no longer the baby…" she writes. "I have my own ideas, plans and ideals, but am unable to articulate them yet."
Anne has realized that she cannot rely on her mother as a role model or as a confidante. (It's worth wondering, though, whether Anne would be able get the intimacy and understanding she desires from anyone – is she reaching for an unattainable ideal?) This discovery is part of her adolescent experience – in rebelling against her parents, Anne strives to form her own identity.
November 10th. It has been decided that another person will be allowed to hide in the Annex: Alfred Dussel, a middle-aged dentist. Anne is very excited at the prospect of his arrival, and it's decided that he'll sleep in Anne's room.
Even though conditions in the Annex are already cramped, and even though tensions run high, the Franks and the van Daans show that they're still capable of great generosity in saving Mr. Dussel.
November 17th. Mr. Kleiman and Miep secret Mr. Dussel away in the Annex. The Annex dwellers greet him with coffee and cognac. Mr. Dussel is shocked to see the Franks – he was under the impression that they were in Belgium, on their way to Switzerland.
Even though they're imperiled by hiding yet another Jew in the Annex, Mr. Kleiman and Miep are undaunted in their generosity. The Frank's "outer identity" is again shown to have been successful in fooling Nazi officials.
November 19th. Although she isn't thrilled to share her space and belongings with Mr. Dussel, Anne is willing to make this sacrifice "for a good cause." Mr. Dussel reports that "countless" of the Franks' Jewish friends have been taken away to concentration camps. Anne reveals that she herself has witnessed Jews being taken away. "In the evenings when it's dark, I often see long lines of good, innocent people, accompanied by crying children, walking on and on…. No one is spared." She reflects on how fortunate she is to be in hiding. "I feel wicked sleeping in a warm bed," she admits.
Anne's willingness to help Mr. Dussel shows her own generosity in the face of hardship and her growing maturity. Anne's eyewitness accounts of Jews being taken away reveal her burgeoning survivor's guilt. As time goes on, Anne will continue to wonder why she herself was spared, and why so many others are left to suffer and die.
November 20th. Mr. Dussel's stories of the outside world horrify and transfix the Franks and the van Daans. Anne remarks that the only way to deal with such ghastly news is to process it and simply return to "our usual joking and teasing." Anne admits that she feels guilty for acting cheerful when so many are suffering, but she remains hopeful that better days lie ahead. Anne then reveals that she has "begun to feel deserted" and that she's "surrounded by too great a void."
Anne's optimism and cheer in the face of danger will be a recurring motif throughout the diary, as will her survivor's guilt. In spite of mounting evidence against the likelihood of her survival, Anne remains staunchly optimistic that there will be life after the war. This optimism is coupled with feelings of isolation, which can be seen as part of her journey into adolescence.
November 28th. The honeymoon period with Mr. Dussel has ended, and he's taken to lecturing and scolding Anne. Overwhelmed by the collective nitpicking of the adults in the Annex, Anne admits to lying awake at night wondering who she should be: "…then I fall asleep with the strange feeling of wanting to be different than I am or being different than I want to be, or perhaps behaving differently than I am or want to be."
The constant criticism of the adults around her (spurred, in part, by the stress of confinement and the horrors of war) has brought Anne to the breaking point. This marks the beginning of Anne's quest for self-perfection – how can she create an outer self that will allow her to be at peace with herself and others?
December 7th: Hanukkah and St. Nicholas Day arrive, and the Annex is awash in celebration. In spite of their dire circumstances, the Annex dwellers still manage to exchange presents: Anne receives a Kewpie doll, and Mr. van Daan, Mr. Dussel, and Mr. Frank all receive handmade gifts from Mr. Voskuijl (Bep's father and the manager of the Opekta warehouse).
The war has taken away much from the Franks, the van Daans, and Mr. Dussel, but the holidays give them the opportunity to show that they haven't lost all of their generosity and humanity. The Christians in their lives continue to show great generosity.
December 13th. Anne is watching people from the front office window. She stares in wonder at the passersby. She reflects on how, the day before she saw two Jews outside the window. "I felt as though I were gazing at one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It gave me such a funny feeling, as if I'd denounced them to the authorities and was now spying on their misfortune."
Anne finds herself standing outside of her Jewishness in this scene. What does she have in common with these two Jewish people on the street? Anne finds herself feeling like she's betrayed these Jews – this could be seen as a symptom of survivor's guilt. (As if her survival made her, in a way, an enemy.)
December 22nd. Christmas approaches, and everyone in the Annex has received an extra ration of butter. Anne and Mr. Dussel are at odds – he's taken to shushing her day and night, and his morning exercises are driving Anne up a wall. Anne dismisses her griping, and admits that she shouldn't try to get revenge on him, given that she needs to try to keep the peace. "Oh, I'm becoming so sensible!" she writes. "I'm afraid my common sense…will be used up too quickly and I won't have any left by the time the war is over."
Time, confinement, and the war have all wrought changes in Anne. A combination of greater maturity, the grim realities of life in the Annex, and the terror of wartime have all instilled in her a desire to become a better (or at least a more agreeable) person. Anne is clearly working very hard to be more agreeable, to the point that she feels her ration, so to speak, of common sense might run out.