This classic story tells about the life of a young Jewish girl, Anne Frank, who kept a diary while she and her family hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam from 1942 to 1944. Anne was 13 years old when this event occurred. Her parents and her older sister Margot were victims of the prejudice against Jewish citizens in Germany through the rulings of Adolph Hitler.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Anne Frank - Wikimedia
In the film, Anne Frank (Ellie Kendrick) is sometimes called Annelies by her family. Jews were forbidden to go to the cinema or to the park or to use public swimming pools and public transport. Shops and restaurants were not allowed to serve Jews, and citizens were warned not to patronize Jewish doctors, lawyers, and teachers.
The Secret Annex
These were the conditions under which Anne Frank and her family lived. Germany had invaded the Netherlands in 1940 and took control of the country. While many families chose to flee, Anne’s father, Otto Frank (Iain Glen) opted to remain, probably for the sake of his business, which he was able to continue to conduct. The plan included hiding his family in a secret Annex of his building, along with another family, Hermann and Petronella Van Daan and their son Peter. Hermann worked for Otto Frank in his business. Soon, another gentleman joined them, Albert Dussel (Nicholas Farrel), a dentist, who was an older single man with a young fiancée, Lotte, for whom he pined daily. Anne was obliged to have Mr. Dussel as her roommate, an arrangement which neither one cared about.
The Need for Quiet
When the warehouse workers arrived at 8:30 a.m., the Franks and their guests were forced to remain quiet until the lunch hour at 12:30 p.m. Then they resumed their quiet time until 5 p.m. when the workers went home. If they were discovered, they would be taken away to a Labor Camp. They were grateful to be together since so many families had suffered separation at this time.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Iain Glen - Wikimedia
Anne Receives a Diary as a Birthday Gift
Anne had a birthday during their confinement, and received a Diary as a present, among other things. She decided to write about her experiences each day, and was faithful to her promise.
Anne Makes Fun of Peter
Peter Van Daan was an extremely shy 16-year-old and brought his cat Mouschi with him. Anne did not care for Peter at first. She was extremely bright and Peter seemed to have less intelligence and little personality. She made fun of him often. Anne was extroverted, and she and her mother, Petronella, did not get along. Anne was more compatible with her father and loved him very much. He could always reason with her. Anne called him by the nickname “Pim.” She also did not care for Mr. Dussel and let him know it. The feeling was mutual.
Anne Discovers the Attic
Most of the neighbors thought that the Franks had fled to Switzerland. Frequently, they would hear that several hundred Jews had been rounded up by the Nazis. Anne found solace by going up to the attic where she could be alone and look out on the Tower of the Westerkerk. It upset her that she was not able to go outside.
Saturday is Bath Day
On Saturdays, the workmen were not around, so they could make more noise, and could all take a bath. Peter bathed downstairs in the radio room, and was highly embarrassed when Anne walked in on him. Margot bathed in the front office while Anne stood guard.
Anne and Mr. Dussel Cross Swords
They soon heard that the building was to be sold, but the lease would not be taken over until Spring. They hoped that the war would be over by then. Anne and Mr. Dussel continued with their hostility towards each other. He called her Miss Quack Quack, and Mrs. Beaverbrook, referring to her high-toned ways. Anne asked her father to intervene, since both parties needed the room during the day for study and work. Otto explained to Mr. Dussel that he and his wife felt strongly about their girls receiving a good education and Anne needed time to study alone in her room. Out of respect for Otto, Mr. Dussel agreed to vacate when Anne needed to be alone. She was so grateful to her father who always sided with her.
Anne Frank's House - Wikimedia
Miep Brings Food and Supplies to the Annex
Otto arranged for a Dutch woman named Miep to bring supplies to the annex. She provided food, clothing, books, and companionship to the residents, and always helped them to celebrate their holidays. Everyone loved it when Miep arrived.
Mrs. Van Daan was Disagreeable
Anne found Mrs. Van Daan to be the most disagreeable resident of the Annex. She was always sarcastic to Anne and never hesitated to criticize her. When she needed some dental work, Mr. Dussel obliged her, and her screaming with pain could be heard all over. Anne learned that Mr. Dussel was studying Spanish since he and his fiancée Lotte planned to emigrate to South American when the war ended.
A Romance Between Anne and Peter
Anne suffered from boredom, despair, and the petty persecution of those around her during their time in the Annex. Peter asked her if he could accompany her to the attic sometimes. They became friends because each of them was lonely. Anne knew that everybody loved her sister Margot and assumed that Peter did also. Anne wrote in her diary that she was falling in love with Peter. Several love scenes ensued as they kissed and became more intimate with each other when they went to the attic. Anne joked that it was all right because Mouschi was their chaperon.
Mrs. Van Daan mentioned to Anne’s mother that the two children seemed to be spending an inordinate amount of time together. Otto was obliged to warn Anne that she was falling behind in her studies and should not spend so much time in the attic with Peter.
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Westerbork Transit Camp - Wikimedia
They soon learned that Italy had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, and D-Day followed soon after. Miep was able to bring eight crates of strawberries to them for making jam. They were glad to have a job to do to relieve their boredom.
One evening, they heard noise downstairs and thought it was burglars. Mr. Van Daan discovered that that had taken some typewriters, other office equipment, and some documents. Soon, they were invaded by German officials who had discovered their presence in the Annex, and all the residents were taken away after being given five minutes to pack a bag.
The Concentration Camp
Most of them were taken to the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, Germany. Anne was taken first to Westerbork transit camp and then to Auschwitz, until her final destination at Bergen-Belsen, where she died in 1945 just before her sixteenth birthday. Otto Frank was the sole surviving member of the group after the war. Miep was able to retrieve and save Anne’s diary from the floor of the Annex after the residents were arrested. Otto arranged for the publication of the diary before he died in 1980.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” is an excellent choice for young adults as well as adults. It has often been chosen as required reading in high school English classes.