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The Diary of Anne Frank Setting

Where It All Goes Down

The Secret Annex in German-occupied Amsterdam, Holland during World War II

The early entries of the diary, before Anne and her family enter into hiding, take place in Amsterdam, Holland. We learn little of the city or the surroundings, only that the movement of Jews within the city is severely restricted due to the German occupation. For example, Jews are not allowed to use public transportation and have a curfew of 8pm, after which they are not allowed outside of their homes. This brief view of Amsterdam helps us understand the forces that caused the Franks to enter into hiding.

The majority of the diary’s events take place in the small rooms of the "Secret Annex," a portion of Mr. Frank and Mr. van Daan’s office hidden behind a bookcase. The living situation is cramped and confining for the eight inhabitants. Rarely are they able to open windows, their use of plumbing is restricted, and they can’t escape each other’s company. One of the most difficult parts of living in the Secret Annex is that, since their hiding space is a portion of an office with many workers unaware of the Jews in hiding, the Secret Annex inhabitants have to be very quiet, especially during business hours.

Despite the cramped quarters, the Secret Annex is comfortable enough for the inhabitants to forget that their lives are in constant and grave danger. As a result, they aren’t always cautious, occasionally put themselves at risk of being found out (which could mean death for them and their protectors), and also get petty and selfish. Despite their moderate complacency, their living situation causes them to live under constant stress, which often brings out the worst in them all. Also important is that the complete lack of variety of company is a significant driver pushing relationships together or apart.

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