Study Guide

The Diary of Anne Frank Quotes

  • Isolation

    Anne Frank

    Father, Mother and Margo still can’t get used to the chiming of the Westertoren clock, which tells us the time every quarter of an hour. Not me, I liked it from the start; it sounds so reassuring, especially at night. (7/11/1942.1)

    In her isolation from the outer world of Holland, Anne is comforted by the sounds of the outside world intruding in their isolated place. In her emotional isolation from her family and fellow Secret Annex inhabitants, Anne is finding feelings of companionship with inanimate objects, such as the clock and her diary.

    We’re so fortunate here, away from the turmoil. We wouldn’t have to give a moment’s thought to all this suffering if it weren’t for the fact that we’re so worried about those we hold dear, whom we can no longer help. I feel wicked sleeping in a warm bed, while somewhere out there my dearest friends are dropping from exhaustion or being knocked to the ground. (11/19/1942.5)

    Anne recognizes in an instant how different this "inside" world is from the world "outside." In hiding, she is isolated from the pain and suffering of others, which makes her feel both guilty and grateful.

    Added to this misery there is another, but of a more personal nature, and it pales in comparison to all of the suffering I’ve just told you about. Still, I can’t help telling you that lately I’ve begun to feel deserted. I am surrounded by too great a void. I never used to give it much thought, since my mind was filled with my friends and having a good time. Now I think either about unhappy things or about myself. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally realized that Father, no matter how kind he may be, can’t take the place of my former world. (11/20/1942.3)

    Anne realizes that she is isolated from her family; without her friends that formerly gave her comfort, she feels very much alone.

  • Youth

    Anne Frank

    Margot’s and Mother’s personalities are so alien to me. I understand my girlfriends better than my own mother. Isn’t that a shame? (9/27/1942.1)

    Anne expresses a typical adolescent sentiment – that she can relate to her friends better than to her family.

    Yesterday Mother and I had another run-in and she really kicked up a fuss. She told Daddy all of my sins and started to cry, which made me cry too, and I already had such an awful headache. I finally told Daddy that I love "him" more than I do Mother, to which he replied that it was just a passing phase, but I don’t think so. I simply can’t stand Mother, and I have to force myself not to snap at her all the time, and to stay calm, when I’d rather slap her across the face. (10/3/1942.2)

    The trials and tribulations of adolescence are well under way, only they are perhaps exacerbated because nobody can get away from anybody else.

    I was suffering then (and still do) from moods that kept my head under water (figuratively speaking) and allowed me to see things only from my own perspective, without calmly considering what the others – those whom I, with my mercurial temperament, had hurt or offended – had said, and then acting as they would have done. (1/2/1944.2)

    Anne begins to grow up, reflecting more objectively on her own behavior.

    Sometimes I wonder if anyone will ever understand what I mean, if anyone will ever overlook my ingratitude and not worry about whether or not I’m Jewish and merely see me as a teenager badly in need of some good plain fun. (12/24/1943.3)

    Anne’s youth is a more important identity marker than her religion.

    The war is going to go on despite our quarrels and our longing for freedom and fresh air [. . .] I’m preaching, but I also believe that if I live here much longer I’ll turn into a dried-up old beanstalk. And all I really want is to be an honest-to-goodness teenager! (1/15/1944.5-6)

    Anne believes the war has made her grow old too quickly. She has lost her chance to be a young person, enjoying life.

    Sis Heyester also writes that girls my age feel very insecure about themselves and are just beginning to discover that they’re individuals with their own ideas, thoughts and habits. I’d just turned thirteen when I came here, so I started thinking of myself and realized that I’ve become an "independent person" sooner than most other girls. (3/17/1944.5)

    Anne believes that the natural mental and emotional patterns of growth for adolescents were sped up in her case as a result of living in a difficult situation.

    Why didn’t Father support me in my struggle? Why did he fall short when he tried to offer me a helping hand? The answer is this: he used the wrong methods. He always talked to me as if I were a child going through a difficult phase. It sounds crazy, since Father’s the only one who’s given me a sense of confidence and made me feel as if I’m a sensible person. But he overlooked one thing: he failed to see that this struggle to triumph over my difficulties was more important to me than anything else. I didn’t want to hear about "typical adolescent problems," or "other girls," or "you’ll grow out of it." I didn’t want to be treated the same as all-the-other-girls, but as Anne-in-her-own-right, and Pim didn’t understand that. (7/15/1944.6)

    Anne wanted parental care and guidance but needed to be seen and taken seriously as an individual rather than being written off as a typical teen.

  • Mortality

    Anne Frank

    We’re so fortunate here, away from the turmoil. We wouldn’t have to give a moment’s thought to all this suffering if it weren’t for the fact that we’re so worried about those we hold dear, whom we can no longer help. I feel wicked sleeping in a warm bed, while somewhere out there my dearest friends are dropping from exhaustion or being knocked to the ground. (11/19/1942.5)

    Anne feels safe and does not focus on the fact that, despite her hiding spot, her life is still at grave risk.

    Terrible things are happening outside. At any time of night and day, poor helpless people are being dragged out of their homes. They’re allowed to take only a knapsack and a little cash with them, and even then, they’re robbed of these possessions on the way. Families are torn apart; men, women and children are separated. Children come home from school to find that their parents have disappeared. Women return from shopping to find their houses sealed, their families gone. The Christians in Holland are also living in fear because their sons are being sent to Germany. Everyone is scared. Every night hundreds of planes pass over Holland on their way to German cities, to sow their bombs on German soil. Every hour hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of people are being killed in Russia and Africa. No one can keep out of the conflict, the entire world is at war, and even though the Allies are doing better, the end is nowhere in sight. As for us, we’re quite fortunate. Luckier than millions of people. It’s quiet and safe here, and we’re using our money to buy food. We’re so selfish that we talk about "after the war" and look forward to new clothes and shoes [. . .] (1/13/1943.3-4)

    Anne describes the war outside and how all the suffering leads to death, but she does not connect these ideas to her own mortality; she feels safely removed.

    I see the eight of us in the Annex as if we were a patch of blue sky, surrounded by menacing black clouds. The perfectly round spot on which we’re standing is still safe, but the clouds are moving in on us, and the ring between us and the approaching danger is being pulled tighter and tighter. We’re surrounded by darkness and danger, and in our desperate search for a way out we keep bumping into each other. We look at the fighting down below and the peace and beauty up above. In the meantime, we’ve been cut off by the dark mass of clouds, so that we can go neither up nor down. It looms before us like an impenetrable wall, trying to crush us [. . .] (11/8/1943.5)

    Anne recognizes that as safe as they are, the danger of death comes ever closer to her family.

    I want to go on living even after my death! And that’s why I’m so grateful to God for giving me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that’s inside me! (4/5/1944.4)

    Anne begins to realize the possibility of her death, but seeks a way to find immortality through her diary.

    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. (4/11/1944. 51)

    Before this point, Anne never really thought she might die; when the police knocking on their disguised entrance to the Secret Annex, Anne must confront her mortality directly.

    Once again you hear "shh" from all sides, and we’re doing everything more quietly. The police forced the door there; they could just as easily do that here too! What will we do if we’re ever . . . no, I mustn’t write that down. But the question won’t let itself be pushed to the back of my mind today; on the contrary, all the fear I’ve ever felt is looming before me in all its horror. (5/26/1944.6)

    Anne seems to generally be aware of her mortality, but attempts not to ever allow its presence in her consciousness or even writing for fear it might come true.

    I’ve asked myself again and again whether it wouldn’t have been better if we hadn't gone into hiding, if we were dead now and didn’t have to go through this misery, especially so that the others could be spared the burden. But we all shrink from this thought. We still love life, we haven’t yet forgotten the voice of nature, and we keep hoping, hoping for . . . everything. (5/26/1944.9)

    Anne realizes what her fate would have been if she were not in hiding; her suffering is very strong but eased by hope.

  • Identity

    Anne Frank

    Our freedom was severely restricted by a series of anti-Jewish decrees: Jews were required to wear a yellow star; Jews were required to turn in their bicycles; Jews were forbidden to use streetcars; Jews were forbidden to ride in cars, even their own; Jews were required to do their shopping between 3 and 5 P.M.; Jews were required to frequent only Jewish-owned barbershops and beauty parlors; Jews were forbidden to be out on the streets between 8 P.M. and 6 A.M.; Jews were forbidden to go to theaters, movies or any other forms of entertainment; Jews were forbidden to use swimming pools [. . .] (6/20/1942.9)

    These are just a few examples of how Nazi policies imposed an identity on Jewish people. They were identified as separate, different, and less than human. Anne doesn’t seem to believe any of this about herself or other Jewish people, but she is forced to live it. This imposed identity contributes to Anne’s later identity as a fearful person, living on the brink of disaster.

    It’s sweltering. Everyone is huffing and puffing, and in this heat I have to walk everywhere. Only now do I realize how pleasant a streetcar is, but we Jews are no longer allowed to make use of this luxury; our own two feet are good enough for us [. . .] The only mode of transportation left to us is the ferry. The ferryman at Josef Israëlkade took us across when we asked him to. It’s not the fault of the Dutch that we Jews are having such a bad time. (6/24/1942.1-2)

    In this passage, we see that the identity being imposed upon Anne by the Nazis is not, in Anne's view, reinforced by the Dutch people. She understands that Holland is being occupied by Nazi forces and under Nazi control, but that the Dutch as a people don’t seem to buy in to Nazi propaganda, and are not to blame.

    Fine specimens of humanity, those Germans, and to think I’m actually one of them! No, that’s not true, Hitler took away our nationality long ago. (10/9/1942.6)

    National identity is confusing. How much our identities are influenced by the nation we live in or are born in is different for each person. While the Nazi party was in power, proper German identity meant hating Jewish people. Most people don’t want to hate other people. Identity crises were rampant among “Germans” and “Jews.”

    Rauter, some German bigwig, recently gave a speech. "All Jews must be out of the German-occupied territories before July 1. The province of Utrecht will be cleansed of Jew [as if they were cockroaches] between April 1 and May 1, and the provinces of North and South Holland between May 1 and June 1." These poor people are being shipped off to filthy slaughterhouses like a herd of sick and neglected cattle. (3/27/1943.3)

    Anne understands that many Jewish people were being forced to experience the identity the Nazis so brutally carved out for them. The final sentence of the quote is interesting because it shows that Anne believes such treatment unjust for both people and animals.

    I’m "on top of the world" when I think of how fortunate we are and compare myself to other Jewish children, and "in the depths of despair" when, for example, Mrs. Kleiman comes by an talks about Jopie’s hockey club, canoe trips, school plays and afternoon teas with friends. (12/24/1943.1)

    Anne yearns for her old identity, the identity of a girl fully immersed in life. This passage shows that she feels guilt for her yearning, when others are suffering worse than she. She uses this guilt to try to blunt her longing.

    I sometimes wonder if anyone will ever understand what I mean, if anyone will ever overlook by ingratitude and not worry about whether or not I’m Jewish and merely see me as a teenager badly in need of some good plain fun. (12/24/1943.4)

    Longing for fresh air and freedom, Anne’s youth becomes, for a moment at least, a her most important identity marker.

    We can never be just Dutch, or just English, or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. (4/11/1944.48)

    This passage shows that Anne’s identity as a Jewish girl is now reduced to feelings of isolation and discrimination.

    The war isn’t even over, and already there’s dissention and Jews are regarded as lesser beings. Oh, it’s sad, very sad that the old adage has been confirmed for the umpteenth time: "What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does reflects on all Jews." (5/22/1944.7)

    This is isn’t the first time Anne talks about this, about how Jewish people were dehumanized not only by being identified as “lesser beings,” but also by being held to higher standards of conduct than other people. What for a non-Jewish person would be considered a mistake, for a Jewish person could be considered proof of a collective inferiority.

  • Family

    Anne Frank

    Added to this misery there is another, but of a more personal nature, and it pales in comparison to all of the suffering I’ve just told you about. Still, I can’t help telling you that lately I’ve begun to feel deserted. I am surrounded by too great a void. I never used to give it much thought, since my mind was filled with my friends and having a good time. Now I think either about unhappy things or about myself. It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally realized that Father, no matter how kind he may be, can’t take the place of my former world. (11/20/1942.3)

    Family cannot replace friends.

    At night in bed I see myself alone in a dungeon, without Father and Mother. Or I’m roaming the streets, or the Annex is on fire, or they come in the middle of the night to take us away and I crawl under my bed in desperation. (11/8/1943.2)

    Despite all of Anne’s claims that she is independent and cares nothing for her mother, she still fears separation from her parents, showing that they actually provide her with more comfort than she realizes.

    Despite all my theories and efforts, I miss – every day and every hour of the day – having a mother who understands me. That’s why with everything I do and write, I imagine the kid of mom I’d like to be with my children later on. The kind of mom who doesn’t take everything people say too seriously, but who does take me seriously. I find it difficult to describe what I mean, but the word "mom" says it all. (12/24/1943.4)

    Anne feels very much a need for maternal caring, which her mother is not providing, and this realization causes Anne to want to eventually be the kind of mother that she herself longs to have.

    Mother has said that she sees us more as friends than as daughters. That's all very nice, of course, except that a friend can't take the place of a mother. I need my mother to set a good example and be a person I can respect, but in most matters she's an example of what not to do. (1/5/1944.2)

    Anne criticizes her mother’s style of parenting consistently in her diary; this is one constant. Though she may fluctuate in her opinions of others, and in her feelings, Anne’s mother is constantly laid bare in Anne’s criticism.

  • Warfare

    Anne Frank

    Every night hundreds of planes pass over Holland on their way to German cities, to sow their bombs on German soil. Every hour hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of people are being killed in Russia and Africa. No one can keep out of the conflict, the entire world is at war, and even though the Allies are doing better, the end is nowhere in sight. As for us, we’re quite fortunate. Luckier than millions of people. It’s quiet and safe here, and we’re using our money to buy food. We’re so selfish that we talk about "after the war" and look forward to new clothes and shoes when actually we should be saving every penny to help others when the war is over, to salvage whatever we can. (1/13/1943.3-4)

    Being isolated from the war, the members of the Secret Annex have a difficult time understanding the scope of the damage and the effect the war is having on their country.

    All we can do is wait, as calmly as possible, for it to end. Jews and Christians alike are waiting, the whole world is waiting, and many are waiting for death. (1/13/1943.6)

    Anne sees the war as causing suffering not only for the Jews, but for the world as a whole, regardless of race or religion.

    There are many resistance groups, such as Free Netherlands, that forge identity cards, provide financial support to those in hiding, organize hiding places and find work for young Christians who go underground. It’s amazing how much these generous and unselfish people do, risking their own lives to help and save others.

    The best example of this is our own helpers, who have managed to pull us through so far and will hopefully bring us safely to shore, because otherwise they’ll find themselves sharing the fate of those they’re trying to protect. (1/28/1944.5-6)

    War has the potential for bringing out the best, most self-sacrificial parts of people.

    I don’t believe that the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man is every bit as guilty; otherwise, people and nations would have rebelled long ago! There’s a destructive urge in people, the urge to rage, murder and kill. And until all of humanity, without exception, undergoes a metamorphosis, wars will continue to be waged, and everything that has been carefully built up, cultivated and grown will be cut down and destroyed, only to start all over again! (5/3/1944.8)

    Anne argues that it is not just the war-mongering politicians who are guilty, but everyone who does not stand up for justice and peace. This passage is one of Anne’s shining moments, as she looks far beyond her own life and times to humanity as a whole.

    A huge commotion in the Annex! Is this really the beginning of the long-awaited liberation? The liberation we’ve all talked about so much, which seems too good, too much of a fairy tale ever to come true? Will this year, 1944, bring us victory? We don’t know yet. But where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again. (6/6/1944.8)

    Despite months of despair and bad news, the good news stirs hope and strength again.

    It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are good at heart.

    It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. (7/15/1944.12-13)

    Ultimately, despite the horrors of war, Anne reaffirms her belief in the essential goodness of mankind.

  • Love

    Anne Frank

    Whenever I go upstairs, it’s always so I can see "him." Now that I have something to look forward to, my life here has improved greatly. (2/18/1944.1)

    Some readers believe that Anne begins to explore her new feelings for Peter van Daan out a need for something pleasant in her life rather than out of genuine interest in him. Even if that’s true, they learn to comfort each other in a time of great need. That might not be a Hollywood romance, but it sounds like some kind of love to us.

    Peter Schiff and Peter van Daan have melted into one Peter, who’s good and kind and whom I long for desperately. (2/28/1944.2)

    Not surprisingly under the circumstances, Anne is getting her fantasy life and her real life all mixed up. We wonder if Peter’s diary, if he had one, would hold a similar entry.

    In the meantime, things are getting more and more wonderful here. I think, Kitty, that true love may be developing in the Annex. All those jokes about marrying Peter if we stayed here long enough weren’t so silly after all. Not that I’m thinking of marrying him, mind you. I don’t even know what he’ll be like when he grows up. Or if we’ll even love each other enough to get married. (3/22/1944.2)

    As usual, Anne is a blend of practicality and high emotion when it comes to love. She delights in the idea of true love, but knows that people change. She seems to view love as existing in stages, with only a very high stage being worthy of marriage. Is this similar or different from your own views on love? How?

    I know I’m starting at a very young age. Not even fifteen and already so independent – that’s a little hard for other people to understand. I’m pretty sure Margot would never kiss a boy unless there was some talk of an engagement or marriage. Neither Peter nor I have any such plans. I’m sure that Mother never touched a man before she met Father. What would my girlfriends or Jacque say if they knew I’d lain in Peter’s arms with my heart against his chest, my head on his shoulder and his head and face against mine! (4/17/1944.2)

    Anne is definitely doing a little bragging here. She’s proud of her experience, and seems to consider herself very modern in comparison with the rest of her family. She doesn’t mention love in this passage, but how do her views on romantic love compare with her views on sex and relationships?

    Suddenly the everyday Anne slipped away and the second Anne took her place. The second Anne who’s never overconfident or amusing, but wants only love and to be gentle.

    I sat pressed against him and felt a wave of emotion come over me. Tears rushed to my eyes; those from the left fell on his overalls, while those from the right trickled down my nose and into the air and landed beside the first. Did he notice? He made no movement to show that he had. Did he feel the same way I did? He hardly said a word. Did he realize he had two Annes at his side? My questions went unanswered. (4/28/1944.1-2)

    Anne’s description of herself is very confusing, and shows that she was very confused. But who ever said love and relationships aren’t confusing? Peter is probably just as confused as Anne. Neither of them can give voice to their confusion. We can all relate to that.

    Everything’s going fine between Peter and me. The poor boy has an even greater need for tenderness than I do. He still blushes every evening when he gets his good-night kiss, and then begs for another one. Am I merely a better substitute for Boche? I don’t mind. He’s so happy just knowing somebody loves him.

    After my laborious conquest, I’ve distanced myself a little from the situation, but you mustn’t think my love has cooled. Peter’s a sweetheart, but I’ve slammed the door to my inner self; if he wants to force the lock again, he’ll have to use a harder crowbar. (5/19/1944.2-3)

    Anne enjoys giving care and happiness, but herself feels the need for greater emotional intimacy and understanding which Peter does not seem able to provide.

    I know very well that he was my conquest, and not the other way around. I created an image of him in my mind, pictured him as a quiet, sweet, sensitive boy badly in need of friendship and love! I needed to pour out my heart to a living person. I wanted a friend who would help me find my way again. I accomplished what I set out to do and drew him, slowly but surely, toward me. When I finally got him to be my friend, it automatically developed into an intimacy that, when I think about it now, seems outrageous. (7/15/1944.9)

    Anne recognizes that she didn’t fall in love with Peter, but turned him into someone else in her mind because of her desperate need to love and be loved.

  • Selfishness

    Anne Frank

    For the umpteenth time, Mrs. van Daan is sulking. She’s very moody and has been removing more and more of her belongings and locking them up. It’s too bad Mother doesn’t repay every van Daan "disappearing act" with a Frank "disappearing act." (9/27/1942.4)

    Very quickly, the inhabitants of the Secret Annex demonstrate their selfishness with their own material possessions.

    I should explain that yesterday was November 16, the first anniversary of his [Mr. Dussel’s] living in the Annex [. . .] instead of taking the opportunity to thank us – for the first time – for unselfishly taking him in, he didn’t utter a word. (11/17/1943.3)

    Mr. Dussel is an example of extreme selfishness, not caring or realizing that the Franks and van Daans unselfishly saved his life.

    There are many resistance groups, such as Free Netherlands, that forge identity cards, provide financial support to those in hiding, organize hiding places and find work for young Christians who go underground. It’s amazing how much these generous and unselfish people do, risking their own lives to help and save others.

    The best example of this is our own helpers, who have managed to pull us through so far and will hopefully bring us safely to shore, because otherwise they’ll find themselves sharing the fate of those they’re trying to protect. (1/28/1944.5-6)

    In contrast to the small-minded bickering that occurs in the Secret Annex, the men and women helping the Franks and van Daans are unselfishly risking their own lives. Anne’s recognition of this shows her insight, awareness, and sense of gratitude.

  • Religion

    Anne Frank

    [. . .] Mother pressed her prayer book into my hands. I read a few prayers in German, just to be polite. They certainly sound beautiful, but they mean very little to me. Why is she making me act so religious and devout? (10/29/1942.3)

    This passage suggest that Anne’s mother’s behavior is different than usual. It also highlights Anne as an independent thinker. She is not interested in religion for show or for beauty, but wants it to “mean” something to her.

    To give me a new project as well, Father asked Mr. Kleiman for a children’s Bible so I could finally learn something about the New Testament. (11/3/1943.2)

    Anne wouldn’t have been exposed to the New Testament in her Jewish school, and her curiosity toward it shows her desire to experiment with religion and religious texts. It would make sense that she would start with a “children’s Bible” – she could learn the basic stories relatively quickly.

    The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be alone with the sky, nature and God. For only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity. (2/23/1944.3)

    Like many before and since her, Anne sees God in the natural world. Yet, her speech is ironic. She is trapped. She can’t go outside. She also says this is the only way you can “feel that everything is as it should be.” In this desperate passage, Anne is stating, very politely, that because she is separated from nature, she is separated from God.

    Who has inflicted this upon us? Who has set us apart from 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, that’s the reason, the only reason, we have to suffer. (4/11/1944.48)

    Many Jewish people (and others) stopped believing in God after the Holocaust. We don’t know whether Anne did or not, as we don’t know her thoughts during her time in the concentration camps. Here, though, Anne is struggling to reconcile her belief in God with the horrible events she’s experiencing and hearing about. She is also looking for reason in something that must be described as beyond reason.

    People who have a religion should be glad, since not everyone has the ability to believe in a higher order. You don’t even have to live in fear of eternal punishment; the concepts of purgatory, heaven and hell are difficult for many people to accept, yet religion itself, any religion, keeps a person on the right path. Not the fear of God, but upholding your own sense of honor and obeying your conscience. How noble and good everyone could be if, at the end of each day, they were to review their own behavior and weigh up the rights and wrongs. They would automatically try to do better at the start of each new day and, after a while, would certainly accomplish a great deal. (7/6/1944.9)

    Even though Anne is living in fear, she finds no place for it in her religious philosophy. Anne also shows that for all her sophistication, she is still childlike. For one thing, different people have very different ideas about “honor” and “conscience” than Anne does, Hitler being case in point. Religion can be a source of great comfort, but also of great conflict.