بخش دومدوره: آن فرانک: خاطرات یک دختر جوان / درس 66
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In all probability the man and woman with the flashlight had alerted the police. It was Sunday night, Easter Sunday. The next day, Easter Monday, the office was going to be closed, which meant we wouldn’t be able to move around until Tuesday morning. Think of it, having to sit in such terror for a day and two nights! We thought of nothing, but simply sat there in pitch darkness-in her fear, Mrs. van D. had switched off the lamp. We whispered, and every time we heard a creak, someone said, “Shh, shh.”
It was ten-thirty, then eleven. Not a sound. Father and Mr. van Daan took turns coming upstairs to us. Then, at eleven-fifteen, a noise below. Up above you could hear the whole family breathing. For the rest, no one moved a muscle. Footsteps in the house, the private office, the kitchen, then. . . on the staircase. All sounds of breathing stopped, eight hearts pounded. Foot- steps on the stairs, then a rattling at the bookcase. This moment is indescribable. “Now we’re done for,” I said, and I had visions of all fifteen of us being dragged away by the Gestapo that very night.
More rattling at the bookcase, twice. Then we heard a can fall, and the footsteps receded. We were out of danger, so far! A shiver went though everyone’s body, I heard several sets of teeth chattering, no one said a word. We stayed like this until eleven-thirty.
There were no more sounds in the house, but a light was shining on our landing, right in front of the bookcase. Was that because the police thought it looked so suspicious or because they simply forgot? Was anyone going to come back and turn it off? We found our tongues again.
There were no longer any people inside the building, but perhaps someone was standing guard outside. We then did three things: tried to guess what was going on, trembled with fear and went to the bathroom. Since the buckets were in the attic, all we had was Peter’s metal wastepaper basket. Mr. van Daan went first, then Father, but Mother was too embarrassed. Father brought the waste- basket to the next room, where Margot, Mrs. van Daan and I gratefully made use of it. Mother finally gave in. There was a great demand for paper, and luckily I had some in my pocket.
The wastebasket stank, everything went on in a whisper, and we were exhausted. It was midnight.
“Lie down on the floor and go to sleep!” Margot and I were each given a pillow and a blanket. Margot lay down near the food cupboard, and I made my bed between the table legs. The smell wasn’t quite so bad when you were lying on the floor, but Mrs. van Daan quietly went and got some powdered bleach and draped a dish towel over the potty as a further precaution.
Talk, whispers, fear, stench, farting and people continually going to the bathroom; try sleeping through that! By two-thirty, however, I was so tired I dozed off and didn’t hear a thing until three-thirty. I woke up when Mrs. van D. lay her head on my feet.
“For heaven’s sake, give me something to put on!” I said. I was handed some clothes, but don’t ask what: a pair of wool slacks over my pajamas, a red sweater and a black skirt, white understockings and tattered kneesocks. Mrs. van D. sat back down on the chair, and Mr. van D. lay down with his head on my feet. From three- thirty onward I was engrossed in thought, and still shiver- ing so much that Mr. van Daan couldn’t sleep. I was preparing myself for the return of the police. We’d tell them we were in hiding; if they were good people, we’d be safe, and if they were Nazi sympathizers, we could try to bribe them!
“We should hide the radio!” moaned Mrs. van D.
“Sure, in the stove,” answered Mr. van D. “If they find us, they might as well find the radio!”
“Then they’ll also find Anne’s diary,” added Father.
“So burn it,” suggested the most terrified of the group.
This and the police rattling on the bookcase were the moments when I was most afraid. Oh, not my diary; if my diary goes, I go too! Thank goodness Father didn’t say anything more.
There’s no point in recounting all the conversations; so much was said. I comforted Mrs. van Daan, who was very frightened. We talked about escaping, being interrogated by the Gestapo, phoning Mr. Kleiman and being courageous. “We must behave like soldiers, Mrs. van Daan. If our time has come, well then, it’ll be for Queen and Country, for freedom, truth and justice, as they’re always telling us on the radio. The only bad thing is that we’ll drag the others down with us!”
After an hour Mr. van Daan switched places with his wife again, and Father came and sat beside me. The men smoked one cigarette after another, an occasional sigh was heard, somebody made another trip to the potty, and then everything began allover again.
Four o’clock, five, five-thirty. I went and sat with Peter by his window and listened, so close we could feel each other’s bodies trembling; we spoke a word or two from time to time and listened intently. Next door they took down the blackout screen. They made a list of everything they were planning to tell Mr. Kleiman over the phone, because they intended to call him at seven and ask him to send someone over. They were taking a big chance, since the police guard at the door or in the warehouse might hear them calling, but there was an even greater risk that the police would return.
I’m enclosing their list, but for the sake of clarity, I’ll copy it here. Buralary: Police in building, up to bookcase, but no farther. Burglars apparently interrupted, forced warehouse door, fled through garden. Main entrance bolted; Kugler must have left through second door.
Typewriter and adding machine safe in black chest in private office. Miep’s or Bep’s laundry in washtub in kitchen.
Only Bep or Kugler have key to second door; lock may be broken.
Try to warn jan and get key, look around office; also feed cat.
For the rest, everything went according to plan. Mr. Kleiman was phoned, the poles were removed from the doors, the typewriter was put back in the chest. Then we all sat around the table again and waited for either jan or the police. Peter had dropped off to sleep and Mr. van Daan ANNE FRANK and I were lying on the floor when we heard loud footsteps below. I got up quietly. “It’s Jan!” “No, no, it’s the police!” they all said.
There was a knocking at our bookcase. Miep whis- tled. This was too much for Mrs. van Daan, who sank limply in her chair, white as a sheet. If the tension had lasted another minute, she would have fainted.
Jan and Miep came in and were met with a delightful scene. The table alone would have been worth a photograph: a copy of Cinema &.. Theater, opened to a page of dancing girls and smeared with jam and pectin, which we’d been taking to combat the diarrhea, two jam jars, half a bread roll, a quarter of a bread roll, pectin, a mirror, a comb, matches, ashes, cigarettes, tobacco, an ashtray, books, a pair of underpants, a flashlight, Mrs. van Daan’s comb, toilet paper, etc.
Jan and Miep were of course greeted with shouts and tears. Jan nailed a pinewood board over the gap in the door and went off again with Miep to inform the police of the break-in. Miep had also found a note under the ware- house door from Sleegers, the night watchman, who had noticed the hole and alerted the police. Jan was also planning to see Sleegers.
So we had half an hour in which to put the house and ourselves to rights. I’ve never seen such a transformation as in those thirty minutes. Margot and I got the beds ready downstairs, went to the bathroom, brushed our teeth, washed our hands and combed our hair. Then I straightened up the room a bit and went back upstairs. The table had already been cleared, so we got some water, made coffee and tea, boiled the milk and set the table. Father and Peter emptied our improvised potties and rinsed them with warm water and powdered bleach. The largest one was filled to the brim and was so heavy they had a hard time lifting it. To make things worse, it was leaking, so they had to put it in a bucket.
At eleven o’clock Jan was back and joined us at the table, and gradually everyone began to relax. Jan had the following story to tell:
Mr. Sleegers was asleep, but his wife told Jan that her husband had discovered the hole in the door while making his rounds. He called in a policeman, and the two of them searched the building. Mr. Sleegers, in his capacity as night watchman, patrols the area every night on his bike, accompanied by his two dogs. His wife said he would come on Tuesday and tell Mr. Kugler the rest. No one at the police station seemed to know anything about the break-in, but they made a note to come first thing Tuesday morning to have a look.
On the way back Jan happened to run into Mr. van Hoeven, the man who supplies us with potatoes, and told him of the break-in. “I know,” Mr. van Hoeven calmly replied. “Last night when my wife and I were walking past your building, I saw a gap in the door. My wife wanted to walk on, but I peeked inside with a flashlight, and that’s when the burglars must have run off. To be on the safe side, I didn’t call the police. I thought it wouldn’t be wise in your case. I don’t know anything, but I have my suspicions.” Jan thanked him and went on. Mr. van Hoeven obviously suspects we’re here, because he always delivers the potatoes at lunchtime. A decent man!
It was one o’clock by the time Jan left and we’d done the dishes. All eight of us went to bed. I woke up at quarter to three and saw that Mr. Dussel was already up. My face rumpled with sleep, I happened to run into Peter in the bathroom, just after he’d come downstairs. We agreed to meet in the office. I freshened up a bit and went down.
“After all this, do you still dare go to the front attic?” he asked. I nodded, grabbed my pillow, with a cloth wrapped around it, and we went up together. The weather was gorgeous, and even though the air-raid sirens soon began to wail, we stayed where we were. Peter put his arm around my shoulder, I put mine around his, and we sat quietly like this until four o’clock, when Margot came to get us for coffee.
We ate our bread, drank our lemonade and joked (we were finally able to again), and for the rest everything was back to normal. That evening I thanked Peter because he’d been the bravest of us all.
None of us have ever been in such danger as we were that night. God was truly watching over us. Just think-the police were right at the bookcase, the light was on, and still no one had discovered our hiding place! “Now we’re done for!” I’d whispered at that moment, but once again we were spared. When the invasion comes and the bombs start falling, it’ll be every man for himself, but this time we feared for those good, innocent Christians who are helping us. “We’ve been saved, keep on saving us!” That’s all we can say.
This incident has brought about a whole lot of changes. As of now, Dussel will be doing his work in the bathroom, and Peter will be patrolling the house between eight-thirty and nine-thirty. Peter isn’t allowed to open his window anymore, since one of the Keg people noticed it was open. We can no longer flush the toilet after nine-thirty at night. Mr. Sleegers has been hired as night watchman, and tonight a carpenter from the underground is coming to make a barricade out of our white Frankfurt bedsteads. Debates are going on left and right in the Annex. Mr. Kugler has reproached us for our carelessness. Jan also said we should never go downstairs. What we have to do now is find out whether Sleegers can be trusted, whether the dogs will bark if they hear someone behind the door, how to make the barricade, all sorts of things.
We’ve been strongly reminded of the fact that we’re Jews in chains, chained to one spot, without any rights, but with a thousand obligations. We must put our feelings aside; we must be brave and strong, bear discomfort with- out complaint, do whatever is in our power and trust in God. One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we’ll be people again and not just Jews!
Who has inflicted this on us? Who has set us apart from all the rest? Who has put us through such suffering? It’s God who has made us the way we are, but it’s also God who will lift us up again. In the eyes of the world, we’re doomed, but if, after all this suffering, there are still Jews left, the Jewish people will be held up as an example. Who knows, maybe our religion will teach the world and all the people in it about goodness, and that’s the reason, the only reason, we have to suffer. We can never be just Dutch, or just English, or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. And we’ll have to keep on being Jews, but then, we’ll want to be.
Be brave! Let’s remember our duty and perform it without complaint. There will be a way out. God has never deserted our people. Through the ages Jews have had to suffer, but through the ages they’ve gone on living, and the centuries of suffering have only made them stronger. The weak shall fall and the strong shall survive and not be defeated!
That night I really thought I was going to die. I waited for the police and I was ready for death, like a soldier on a battlefield. I’d gladly have given my life for my country. But now, now that I’ve been spared, my first wish after the war is to become a Dutch citizen. I love the Dutch, I love this country, I love the language, and I want to work here. And even if I have to write to the Queen herself, I won’t give up until I’ve reached my goal!
I’m becoming more and more independent of my parents. Young as I am, I face life with more courage and have a better and truer sense of justice than Mother. I know what I want, I have a goal, I have opinions, a religion and love. If only I can be myself, I’ll be satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inner strength and a great deal of courage!
If God lets me live, I’ll achieve more than Mother ever did, I’ll make my voice heard, I’ll go out into the world and work for mankind!
I now know that courage and happiness are needed first!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
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