Anne Frank's Tales From the Secret Annex Read online
TALES FROM THE
Gerrold van der Stroom and Susan Massotty
Translated from the Dutch by
Personal Reminiscences, Daydreams and Essays
Was There a Break-in?
Do You Remember?
The Best Little Table
Anne in Theory
The Battle of the Potatoes
Evenings and Nights in the Annexe
The Annexe Eight at the Dinner Table
Wenn Die Uhr Halb Neune Schlägt…
A Daily Chore in Our Little Community: Peeling Potatoes!
Freedom in the Annexe
My First Day at the Lyceum
A Biology Lesson
A Maths Lesson
Lodgers or Tenants
Delusions of Stardom
My First Interview
The Den of Iniquity
Who Is Interesting?
Fables and Short Stories
The Caretaker’s Family
The Flower Girl
The Guardian Angel
The Wise Old Gnome
Blurry the Explorer
Anne Frank’s Tales From The Secret Annexe
In early 1944 Anne Frank was listening to a radio broadcast from Gerrit Bolkestein, Minister for Art, Education and Science in the Dutch government in exile in London. He announced that when the war was over he wanted the Dutch people to send in written accounts of the suffering they had endured during the Nazi occupation. This gave Anne Frank a purpose and she determined that one day her work would be published. Straight away she began the task of re-writing and editing her diaries and stories. In 1947 a first edition of The Diary of a Young Girl was published. Since that time the diary has not been out of print. The latest, definitive, 60th anniversary edition published by Penguin Books is also translated by Susan Massotty.
At times Anne Frank wrote more than one description of an aspect of life in the Secret Annexe: one would go into her diary and others, sometimes with minor variations, were written in notebooks or on sheets of paper. This latter work is collected together in Tales from the Secret Annexe. Those tales which also appear as diary entries are: Was there a Break-in?, The Dentist, Sausage Day, Anne in Theory, Evenings and Nights in the Annexe, Lunch Break, The Annexe Eight at the Dinner Table, The Best Little Table, Wenn Die Uhr Halb Neune Schlägt…, A Daily Chore in Our Little Community: Peeling Potatoes, Freedom in the Annexe and part of Sundays.
Tales from the Secret Annexe also includes twenty-eight further short stories, reminiscences and compositions. Anne Frank began to write a novel, Cady’s Life, and that also appears in this edition. (Although she never finished the novel, she sketched the remainder of the plot in her diary entry of 11 May 1944.) Three further undated fragments were written on loose sheets of paper and these have been inserted before the final, very moving piece, in this revised edition of a work which should never have been allowed to go out of print.
Following the liberation of Auschwitz and at the end of a long and arduous journey, Otto Frank reached Amsterdam on 3 June 1945. He knew that his wife Edith had died in the camp but hoped that he would find his two daughters, Margot and Anne, alive.
Twelve years earlier, Hitler had become the German Chancellor. Like so many Jews, Otto Frank had known that he must get his family out of Germany but his application for visas was unsuccessful. At the time his brother-in-law, Erich Elias, was working for Opekta, a company which distributed a pectin-based preparation used in jam making. When the decision was made to open a branch in the Netherlands, Erich Elias suggested that Otto Frank lead the expansion. The Frank family moved to Amsterdam in 1933 and for a time life treated them well.
Any sense of safety disappeared when the Germans marched into neutral Holland in May 1940 and the deportation of the Jewish population commenced. In the spring of 1942 Otto Frank began to prepare a hiding place in the upstairs rooms at the back of the Opekta building and, on 6 July 1942, the Franks moved in to what was to become known as the Secret Annexe. They were soon joined by Hermann van Pels, an employee, his wife Auguste and their son Peter, and by Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist, whom Anne called Albert Dussel in her writings (Dussel means ‘nincompoop’ in German). Her family apart, Anne also gave new names to the others hiding in the Annexe: Hermann, Auguste and Peter van Pels became Hermann, Petronella and Peter van Daan.
For more than two years the Annexe remained safe thanks to the kindness and bravery of Opekta’s office employees as well as to the extraordinary ability of the occupants to cope with the isolation and the increasing fear that they would be discovered. During the day silence was vital at all times, apart from a short break when the workforce downstairs had lunch. Then, and after the working day was over, Victor Kugler would visit, bringing news of the outside world, as well as books and magazines. A friend and colleague of Otto Frank, Victor Kugler approached Opekta’s accounting in an imaginative way and was thus able to buy ration coupons on the black market to help feed and clothe those in the Annexe.
Johannes Kleiman, another colleague, also visited regularly and provided moral support. Miep Gies and Bep (Elisabeth) Voskuijl, both secretaries, bought extra food and clothing and Miep gave Anne her one and only pair of high-heel shoes. Every evening Bep would join those in the Annexe for dinner. Seeing a need for something new she arranged correspondence courses in shorthand and Latin for Margot and Anne. Others also formed part of the lifeline: Miep’s husband Jan provided forged ration cards and for as long as they could, a butcher and a greengrocer supplied meat and fresh vegetables.
From the time she began to keep a diary and compose stories, Anne Frank kept her work away from the eyes of the adults. On one of Miep’s visits to the Annexe, Anne was writing. She glanced up as Miep walked in with ‘a look on her face at this moment that I’d never seen before. It was a look of dark concentration, as if she had a throbbing headache. This look pierced me and I was speechless. She was suddenly another person there writing at the table… It was as if I had interrupted an intimate moment in a very, very private friendship.’ (Anne Frank Remembered, 1982).
Who betrayed the eight people in hiding is not known. At mid-morning on 4 August 1944 an SS officer drove along Prinsengracht and stopped outside the Opekta building. With him were members of the Dutch Security Police. A gun was pointed at Miep and she was told to stay where she was. After a search the entrance to the Annexe was found. Otto Frank and his family, the van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer were arrested and later transferred to Westerbork transit camp in north Holland. On 3 September 1944 they were part of the last transport to leave Westerbork for Auschwitz.
Victor Kugler and Johannes Kleiman were also arrested. They were first taken to Gestapo headquarters for interrogation and then on to Amersfoort transit camp. Johannes Kleiman was so ill by that time that he was released after