The Diary of Anne Frank

by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett

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Who are the Van Daans and can you describe each family member in The Diary of Anne Frank?

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The van Daans are a family that hides alongside Anne Frank’s family in some concealed rooms before they are discovered and sent to the concentration camps. Mr. van Daan worked with Anne’s farther and his actual name is Hermann van Pels. The name van Daan was used by Anne in the diary to refer to the van Pels. Anne Frank portrays Mr. van Daan as an intelligent, temperamental and selfish individual who makes life hard in their hiding place.

Mrs. Petronella Van Daan (her actual name is Auguste) is portrayed as a friendly but egotistical individual. She is also considered argumentative and petty, as seen when she frequently complains and openly argues with the husband.

Peter van Daan is the son of Mr. and Mrs. van Daan. At some point in the diary Peter and Anne develop a romantic relationship and grow very close. He is portrayed as a quiet and honest boy.

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Herman Van Daan is a friend and business associate of Otto Frank. He and his family--wife Petronella and son Peter--are invited to join the Franks in their secret hideaway. The husband and wife argue constantly, creating tension in the cramped living quarters. Selfish and temperamental, Mrs. Van Daan henpecks her husband; he is a stubborn man who nonetheless contributes his share of duties. Their son is 16 years old and, though closer to Margot Frank in age, he becomes intimate with Anne, who is 13 when they go into hiding. Peter is more withdrawn and quieter than Anne, who eventually becomes discontented with Peter, particularly over the uncertain plans he has for the future. After the group is captured by the Germans, Peter and Anne remain friendly at the Westerbork concentration camp. They were eventually separated at Auschwitz. Mr. Van Daan died in the gas chambers there; Mr. Frank witnessed him being led to the chamber. Mrs. Van Daan also died at Auschwitz, though it is unknown if she died of natural causes or was gassed. Peter died during a prisoner march from Auschwitz.

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