The Diary of Anne Frank Summary
The Diary of Anne Frank is an autobiography by Anne Frank that details period in which Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during the Holocaust.
When the Nazis rise to power, Anne Frank and her family go into hiding. Mr. Kraler shelters them in his attic, along with the Van Daans, Mr. Dussel, and Miep Gies.
Anne becomes friends with Peter Van Daan, and she shares her first kiss with him.
- One of Kraler's employees blackmails him, and the Nazis raid the small attic. With the exception of Mr. Frank, all of the Jewish hideaways die in concentration camps.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1541
The play The Diary of Anne Frank opens in November 1945 with Otto Frank’s return to the attic rooms where he, his family, the Van Daans, and Mr. Dussell lived in hiding during the Nazi occupation of Holland. He enters the upstairs rooms carrying a rucksack. He moves slowly around the room and picks up a scarf, which he puts around his neck. As he bends down to pick up a glove, he breaks down. Hearing his cries, Miep Gies comes up the stairs, asking if he is all right and begging him not to stay up in the rooms. Mr. Frank says that he has come to say goodbye, that he is leaving Amsterdam though he doesn’t yet know where he is going. As he is about to leave, Miep gives him a pile of papers that were left behind after the Gestapo came and took everyone away. Mr. Frank tells her to burn them, but Miep insists that he look at the papers. She puts Anne’s diary in his hand. Mr. Frank opens the diary and begins to read the first entry, dated July 6, 1942, aloud. Gradually, Anne’s voice joins his and then Mr. Frank’s voice subsides. Anne describes how bad the situation got for the Jews in Holland after the German conquest. Her diary recounts the Franks’ final morning at home, as they tried to make it appear they had fled the country. Instead, they went to the building where Mr. Frank had his business to go into hiding.
The next scene takes place in July 1942 in the attic where the families will hide. The Van Daans are waiting for the Franks. When they arrive, accompanied by Miep and Mr. Kraler, introductions are made between the two families; with the exception of the men, no one knows each other. After Miep and Mr. Kraler leave to get ready for work, Mr. Frank explains the rules: during the day, when the workers are downstairs, they cannot move around, speak above a whisper, or run any water. Then all of them begin to settle down and unpack their meager belongings before the workday begins. Anne tries to get acquainted with Peter and manages to find out that they attended the same school, but she immediately recognizes how shy he is. On this first day in hiding, Mr. Frank gives Anne the diary.
It is now two months later. Six o’clock has come, so everyone can move around. Anne has taken Peter’s shoes, and in his attempt to get them back, they scuffle. Peter flees to his room, leaving Anne to wish that he were more fun. Dancing around the room, Anne spills milk on Mrs. Van Daan’s fur coat, which causes the woman to storm angrily from the room. Mr. Van Daan follows, and Mrs. Frank warns Anne to be more courteous to their guests and reminds her that everyone is under great strain. She asks Anne to be more like Margot, who is more distant. Anne runs to her room.
Alone, Mrs. Frank and Margot begin to prepare supper. Mrs. Frank confides that she had asked Mr. Frank not to invite the Van Daans to share their hiding place, but he had insisted. At that moment, the buzzer sounds, signaling Mr. Kraler or Miep. Mr. Kraler arrives with a question: Miep’s boyfriend has a Jewish friend who has no place to hide. Can Mr. Dussel stay with them for a few nights? Mr. Frank immediately tells Mr. Kraler to bring Mr. Dussel upstairs. He will share Anne’s room. Mr. Frank serves cognac as a welcome. Mr. Dussel tells them what has been taking place in Amsterdam since they went into hiding. The first news is good, that people believe the Franks escaped to Switzerland. But he also tells them that hundreds of Jews are sent to death camps each day, including Anne’s friends. Mr. Frank puts a stop to the conversation. Anne shows Mr. Dussel to the room they will share.
In the next scene, Anne’s screams from a nightmare wake everyone up. Her parents rush into the room, but Anne sends her mother away and asks her father to stay with her. Anne tells her father that he is the only person she loves. Mr. Frank tells her that her rejection of her mother is very hurtful. Anne believes that she cannot help how she acts, but she immediately feels regretful and asks her father what is wrong with her.
It is the first night of Hanukkah, 1942. Anne has prepared presents for everyone (including the scarf Mr. Frank finds in the play’s opening scene), and everyone is amazed at her ingenuity and touched by her thoughtfulness. However, the good mood is broken when Mr. Van Daan and Peter start arguing about his cat. The argument is brought to a swift halt by a crashing sound in the offices below. Everyone immediately quiets down and takes off their shoes. While standing on a chair to extinguish the overhead light, Peter falls down. From below comes the sound of feet running. In the attic above, everyone is frightened, wondering if it is the police come to take them away. Mr. Frank goes downstairs to investigate and returns with the news that it was a thief. While he says that the danger has passed, Mr. Dussel points out that now someone knows that there are people living above the offices. To restore everyone’s courage in the face of a new anxiety, Mr. Frank asks Anne to sing the Hanukkah song, and soon the rest join in.
Act 2 opens in January 1944; the families have been in hiding close to a year and a half. Miep and Mr. Kraler have arrived with a New Year’s cake. Over his wife’s protests, Mr. Van Daan gives her fur coat to Miep to sell. Mr. Kraler asks Mr. Frank to come downstairs with him to go over some contracts, but Mr. Frank realizes that Mr. Kraler really wants to speak to him in private. He tells Mr. Kraler that he must say whatever he has to say in front of everyone, and so they find out that one of the workers in the office is blackmailing Mr. Kraler in exchange for his silence about the upstairs room, which he remembers as existing. Scared and angry, Anne lashes out at her mother and then runs into her room. Peter follows her, telling her that he thinks she is just fine. For the first time since they’ve been in hiding, Peter and Anne talk, forging a friendship.
Anne and Peter’s burgeoning friendship causes tensions between their mothers; Mrs. Van Daan has been making insinuations about what is going on when Anne visits Peter in his room after dinner. Alone, Anne and Peter talk about all sorts of things, and they share their first kiss. Tensions also are growing in the cramped attic in general. One night, these tensions erupt when Mrs. Frank catches Mr. Van Daan stealing food. Mrs. Frank snaps, demanding that Mr. Van Daan leave the attic. Mr. Frank tries to calm his wife down, but she refuses to listen to reason. However, the crisis comes to an end with Miep’s arrival and her welcome news that the Allied invasion of the European continent has begun.
A few weeks later finds everyone gathered in the center room, sitting tensely. The office phone downstairs rings, apparently for the third time. Mr. Dussel insists that it is a warning from Miep, who hasn’t been to see them for three days. No one has come into work downstairs, either, another ominous sign. Mr. Dussel, seconded by Mr. Van Daan, begs Mr. Frank to go downstairs and answer the phone, but Mr. Frank refuses. Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan begin to argue, driving Peter into his room. Anne follows him. She is telling him about what they will do when they are free again when a car pulls up in front of the building. The outside bell rings again and again, and then comes the sound of the door being battered in. They hear heavy footsteps and another door being battered in. It is the Nazis. ‘‘For the past two years we have lived in fear,’’ Mr. Frank says. ‘‘Now we can live in hope.’’ They hear the door to their stairwell crash in and the sound of German voices.
The play’s final scene again returns to November 1945. Mr. Kraler has joined Miep and Mr. Frank in the upstairs rooms. Mr. Frank closes Anne’s diary. Mr. Kraler tells him that it was the thief who reported them. Mr. Frank tells them that Anne was happy at the concentration camp, happy to be outside in the fresh air. Of the eight who lived in the attic, Mr. Frank is the only survivor. After Auschwitz was liberated in January, Mr. Frank traveled back to Holland, learning of everyone’s death along the way. Only the day before, he had learned of Anne’s death at Bergen-Belsen. Anne’s voice, reading from her diary, closes the play: ‘‘In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.’’