My Daughter, Anne Frank
“I see the eight of us with our ‘Secret Annexe’ as if we were a little piece of blue heaven, surrounded by heavy black rain clouds. The round, clearly defined spot where we stand is still safe, but the clouds gather more closely about us and the circle which separates us from the approaching danger closes more and more tightly. (…) We all look down below, where people are fighting each other, we look above, where it is quiet and beautiful, and meanwhile we are cut off by the great dark mass, which will not let us go upwards, but which stands before us as an impenetrable wall; it tries to crush us (…)”
A little girl writes in her diary, while the storm clouds of World War 2 continue to gather above her. This performance by the Budapest Dance Theatre attempts to unravel the personality of this special, life-loving individual, balancing on the boundaries of dance and literature.
Anne Frank: Sághy Alexandra
Otto Frank: Gálffi László actor
Díszlet- és jelmeztervező: / Set and costume design: Klimó Péter
Dramaturg / Dramaturgy: Vécsei Anna
Kosztüm / Costumes: Kis Júlia
Zeneszerző / composer: Szántó Dániel
Koreográfus assisztens / Assistant to choreographer: Sághy Alexandra
Koreográfus / Choreographed by Földi Béla
Az előadás a Budapest Táncszínház és a Nemzeti Táncszínház közös produkciója.
This hot summer night is unbearable.
People strip down to shirtsleeves and spend the day fanning themselves. They are practically suffocating from the heat. Of course it doesn’t bother the children, they are playing in the streets as usual.
And how dark the sky is! It shouldn’t be so dark at this time in the summer. Tomorrow I will have to go to the bakers’ and the greengrocers’. I still have old bills to settle. I shouldn’t have waited this long. We mustn’t keep putting things off.
Nothing has changed. The trees, the big chestnut tree, the gate, the two steps. Good old Prinsengracht, the factory, the office. Strange, I thought it was going to upset me a lot more, so I wouldn’t even be able to look at it, but here I am. That cat over there… it’s not our tabby cat that she loved so much, is it? For a moment it looked like… Apparently cats have a bond with the houses. They keep coming back.
Why do people return to the places where they are not welcome, where they had been taken away from and clearly told they were not needed? They are not loved. Why have I come back…?
Well, where else could I go?
They have perished, we have survived. The generous Miep, our mutual friend/guardian angel… and me. The survivors.
But have we survived? We continue living, curled up, but we do not yet know why and how. What did I use to be? Husband, father. What am I today? Nothing and nobody.
I have told Miep. At least she knows now. Without a word she opened the drawer of her desk, took out a sheaf of paper, including Anne’s diary. “This is your inheritance from your daughter, Anne.” I immediately recognised it from the red and white checked cover.
“This was waiting for Anne, I only wanted to give it back to her” – she said, sniffing, “and this – I haven’t read it. I couldn’t.”
We had all known that Anne was keeping a diary. When she was in the mood she, would read us some funny stories from it… – I might not be able to read it… How could a father possibly read his own daughter’s diary?…
I have come back to a world which is tired, humiliated and empty. It is like a beaten dog or a book thrown in the corner. I have nothing to live for… perhaps only Anne’s diary. The diary.
In the concentration camp there was only one image in front of my eyes, it was the Secret Annex. My memories were almost all related to this place. Although we had had a very happy life before.
Yet that is what I always remember, Anne in the attic room, listening to the radio together, or the women releasing their anger on the pretext of cooking. The perpetual quarrels.
Perhaps because it was here that we were together for the last time – this is where we shall have to meet again and this is the only place we can meet again. Like a child lost in the fun fair and in the evening found by the parents near the entrance.
Jews are required to wear a yellow star; Jews were required to turn in their bicycles; Jews are forbidden to use trams; Jews are forbidden to ride in cars, even their own; Jews are required to do their shopping between 3 and 5 P.M.; Jews are required to frequent only Jewish-owned hairdressers’; Jews are forbidden to be out on the streets between 8 P.M. and 6 A.M.; Jews were forbidden to attend theatres, cinemas or any other forms of entertainment; Jews are forbidden to use swimming pools, to go rowing; Jews are forbidden to take part in any sports activity in public; Jews are forbidden to sit in their gardens, not even those of their acquaintances after 8 P.M.; Jews are forbidden to enter the homes of Christians. (19)
The only mode of transportation left to us is the ferry. The ferryman at the Josef Israel wharf immediately took us across when we asked him to. It's not the fault of the Dutch that the Jews are having such a miserable time. (19)
Something nice happened yesterday morning. As I was passing the bicycle racks, I heard my name being called. I looked around and there was a handsome boy I'd met the evening before at Wilma's. He's Wilma's second cousin. He came toward me, somewhat shyly, and introduced himself as Hello Silberberg. Hello is sixteen and good at talking about all kinds of interesting things. (19)
He was waiting for me again this morning, and I hope he will be from now on. (19)
As soon as a boy asks if he can cycle home with me and we get talking, nine times out of ten I can be sure that the youngster has the bad habit of immediately becoming enamoured with me on the spot. (16)
We were, Father, Mother and I, walking in the pouring rain, each of us with a schoolbag filled to the brim with the most varied assortment of items. The workers on their way to work at that early hour gave us sympathetic looks. The hiding place itself will be in Father's office building. That's a little hard for outsiders to understand, so I'll explain. Father didn't have a lot of employees, just Mr Kugler, Mr Kleiman, Miep and a 23-year-old typist named Bep Voskuijl, all of whom were informed of our arrival.
Here's a description of the building: the ground floor is used as a large storeroom, this is where the merchandise is kept. It is divided into a number of different sections: cinnamon, cloves and a pepper substitute are ground in one, and another one is the stockroom.
Next to the warehouse entrance is the door to the house itself, which, through a second door, takes you to a stairway.
The door to the right of the passage leads to the "Secret Annex". No one would ever suspect there are so many rooms hidden behind that plain grey door. (27-28)
INSTRUCTIONS AND GUIDE TO THE SECRET ANNEX
A Unique Facility for the Temporary Accommodation of Jews and Other People like that
Open all year round. Located in beautiful, quiet, wooded surroundings in the heart of
Diet: low fat
Running water in the bathroom (no bath) and on various inside and outside walls. Cosy fireplaces for heating.
Private radio centre with a direct line to London, New York, Tel Aviv and many other stations.
Use of language: It is necessary to speak quietly at all times. Only the language of civilized people may be spoken, thus no German. (66)
Today I have nothing but dismal and depressing news to report. Our many Jewish acquaintances are being taken away in droves. The Gestapo is treating them very roughly and transporting them in cattle cars to Westerbork, the big Jewish camp in Drenthe County. (54)
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. And besides, there are no greater enemies on earth than the Germans and the Jews. (55)
Sometimes I dream that I’m conjugating irregular French verbs or there is a quarrel upstairs. And only when the dream is over do I realise that there is shooting and that I have remained quietly in my room. But most often (…) I grab a pillow and a handkerchief, (…) and dash to Father (…) (113)
Miep has so much to carry she looks like a pack mule. She manages to get us some vegetables nearly every day, and then cycles back with her purchases in large shopping bags. She's also the one who brings five library books every Saturday. Ordinary people don't know how much books can mean to someone who's hiding. Our only diversions are reading, studying and listening to the radio. (101)
Pim (that's our pet name for Father) wants me to help him with his Dutch lessons. I'm perfectly willing to tutor him in exchange for his assistance with French and other subjects. But he makes the most unbelievable mistakes! (40)
P.S. Landing in Sicily. Another step closer to the …! (105)
Next month it's our turn to hand over our radio to the authorities. Mr. Kleiman has a small set hidden in his home that he's giving us to replace our large Philips. (…) Of course, we'll put the small radio upstairs. What's a clandestine radio when there are already clandestine Jews and clandestine money? (99)
They are so sentimental together, but I’d rather be sentimental on my own. (32-33)
Last night, just as I was falling asleep, Hanneli suddenly appeared before me. I saw her there, dressed in rags, her face thin and worn. She looked at me with such sadness and reproach in her enormous eyes that I could read the message in them: "Oh, Anne, why have you deserted me? Help me, help me, rescue me from this hell!" And I can't help her. I can only stand by and watch while other people suffer and die. All I can do is pray to God to bring her back to us. (…) She was at least as devout and well-meaning as I am. But then why have I been chosen to live, while she's possibly going to die? What's the difference between us? (…) Oh, Hanneli, I hope that if you live to the end of the war and return to us, I'll be able to take you in and make up for the wrong I've done you. (…) (138)
Last night Mr. Bolkestein, the Cabinet Minister, speaking on the Dutch broadcast from London, said that after the war a collection would be made of diaries and letters dealing with the war. Of course, everyone pounced on my diary. Just imagine how interesting it would be if I were to publish a novel about the Secret Annex. The title alone would make people think it was a detective story. (221)
I adore Father so much, he is my great hero and he is the only one I love in the whole world. I am not jealous of Margot, I never have been. I don’t wish to be as clever and beautiful as her, the only thing I wish for is for Father to really love me, not merely as his child, but as this Anne herself. (130)
And yet Mother, with all her shortcomings, is tougher for me to deal with.
And yet Mother, with all her shortcomings, is tougher for me to deal with. I don't know how I should act. I can't very well confront her with her carelessness, her sarcasm and her hard-heartedness, yet I can't continue to blame myself all the time. (…) That's why I always wind up coming back to my diary -- I start there and end there because Kitty's always patient with me. (…) Don't condemn me, but think of me as a person who sometimes reaches the bursting
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.(…) I simply can't imagine the world will ever be normal again for us. I do talk about "after the war," but it's as if I were talking about a castle in the air, something that can never come true.
I see the eight of us in the Annex as if we were a patch of blue sky surrounded by menacing black clouds. The surrounded piece of blueness where we live is still safe, but the clouds are moving in on us, and the cloud ring of approaching danger is being pulled tighter and tighter around us. (…) We look at the fighting down below and the peace and beauty up above. But we can go neither up nor down. (134)
The atmosphere is stifling, sluggish and leaden. Outside, you don't hear a single bird, and a deathly, oppressive silence hangs over the house and clings to me as if it were going to drag me into the deepest regions of the underworld. At times like these, Father, Mother and Margot don't matter to me in the least. I wander from room to room, climb up and down the stairs and feel like a songbird whose wings have been ripped off and who keeps hurling itself against the bars of its cage in the dark. "Let me out, where there's fresh air and laughter!" a voice within me cries. I don't even bother to reply anymore, but lie down on the divan. Sleep makes the silence and the terrible fear go by more quickly, helps pass the time, since it's impossible to kill it. (128)
It's funny, but I can sometimes see myself as others see me. I take a leisurely look at the person called "Anne Frank" and browse through the pages of her life as though she were in a book. (154)
Yesterday I read one of Sis Heyster’s articles. What she basically says is that during puberty girls withdraw into themselves and begin thinking about the wondrous changes taking place in their bodies. I feel that too, which probably accounts for my recent embarrassment in front of Margot, Mother and Father. Whenever I get my period (and that's only been three times), I have the feeling that in spite of all the pain, discomfort and mess, I'm carrying around a sweet secret. So even though it's a nuisance, in a certain way I'm always looking forward to the time when I'll feel that secret inside me once again. Once when I was spending the night at Jacque's, I could no longer restrain my curiosity about her body, which she'd always hidden from me and which I'd only seen through her clothes. I asked her whether, as proof of our friendship, we could stroke each other's breasts. Jacque refused. I also had a terrible desire to kiss her, which I did. Every time I see a female nude, such as the Venus in my art history book, I go into ecstasy. Sometimes I find them so exquisite I have to struggle to hold back my tears. If only I had a girlfriend! (148)
My longing for someone to talk to has become so unbearable that I somehow took it into my head to select Peter for this role. It gave me a wonderful feeling when I looked into his dark blue eyes. That night I lay in bed and cried for a long time. The idea that I had to beg Peter for favours was simply revolting. You mustn't think I'm in love with Peter, because I'm not. If the van Daans had had a daughter instead of a son, I'd have tried to make friends with her as well. (149)
I have an intense need to be alone. Father has noticed I'm not my usual self, but I can't tell him what's bothering me. Who knows, perhaps the day will come when I'm left alone more than I'd like! (164)
A few weeks ago I started writing a story, something I made up from beginning to end, and I'm so happy with my creations that the products of my pen are piling up. (115)
Let me tell you, just for fun, what we each want to do first when we're able to go outside again.
Margot and Mr. van Daan wish, above all else, to have a hot bath, filled to the brim, which they can lie in for more than half an hour. Mrs. van Daan would like a cake, Dussel can think of nothing but seeing his Charlotte, and Mother is dying for a cup of real coffee. Father would like to visit Mr. Voskuijl, Peter would go to the cinema in the city and as for me, I'd be so overjoyed I wouldn't know where to begin. (106)
I was with Peter yesterday and, somehow, I honestly don't know how, we wound up talking about sex. When I said that Margot and I weren't very well informed, he was amazed. He offered to enlighten me, and I listened gratefully. Neither he nor I had ever imagined we'd be able to talk so openly to a girl or a boy, respectively, about such intimate matters. I think I know everything now. He told me a lot about what he called Prasentivmitteln* [* contraception] in German. (211)
He is so handsome whether he is smiling or he is just staring silently, he is so kind, good and beautiful. (209)
I told him I want to write a lot later on, and I might even want to be a writer. (216)
When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! (226)
Ever since Peter told me about his parents I have felt a certain sense of responsibility towards him – don’t you think that’s strange? It’s just as well that the Van Daans don’t have a daughter. (188-189)
When I think back to my life in 1942, it all seems so unreal. The Anne Frank who enjoyed that heavenly existence was completely different from the one who has grown wise within these walls. Yes, it was heavenly. What did Peter say about me? "Whenever I saw you, you were surrounded by a flock of girls and at least two boys, you were always laughing, and you were always the centre of attention!" I'd like to live that seemingly carefree and happy life for an evening, a few days, a week. At the end of that week I'd be exhausted, and would be grateful to the first person to talk to me about something meaningful. (189-190)
Yesterday a plane crashed nearby. The crew were able to parachute out in time. It crashed on top of a school, but luckily there were no children inside. There was a small fire and a few people were killed. As the airmen made their descent, the Germans sprayed them with bullets in a frenzy. The Amsterdammers who saw it seethed with rage at such a dastardly deed. (211)
People have to queue to buy vegetables and all kinds of goods; doctors can't visit their patients, since their vehicles keep getting stolen. The electric clocks in public areas are dismantled, phone booths are stripped down to the last wire. (222)
Hungary has been occupied by German troops. There are still a million Jews living there; they too are doomed. (223)
Have I told you that our beloved cat has disappeared? We haven't seen her since last Thursday. She's probably already in cat heaven, while some animal lover has turned her into a tasty dish. Perhaps some girl who can afford it will be wearing a hat made of her fur. Peter is heartbroken. (252)
I don't believe 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! (253)
Break-ins, murders and thefts are daily occurrences. The police have their hands full trying to track down the many girls of fifteen, sixteen, seventeen and older who are reported missing every day. (256)
Let something happen soon, even an air raid. Nothing can be more crushing than this uncertainty. Let the end come, however cruel; at least then we'll know whether we are to be the victors or the vanquished. (277)
The world will keep on turning without me, and I can't do anything to change events anyway. (168)
“This is D Day," the BBC announced at twelve. "This is the day." The invasion has begun! (…) Oh, Kitty, the best part about the invasion is that I have the feeling that friends are on the way. (…) Now it's not just the Jews, but Holland and all of occupied Europe. Maybe, Margot says, I can even go back to school in September or October. (280-281)
It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of death, suffering and chaos. 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 too shall end, that peace and tranquillity will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I'll be able to realize them! (299)
Mr. Broks was in Beverwijk and managed to get hold of strawberries at the wholesale market. They arrived here muddy and full of sand, a huge amount. At least twenty-four crates for the office and us. (…)At twelve-thirty the outside door was locked, the crates have to be lugged upstairs. Peter, Father and Mr. van Daan stomping up the stairs. (…)With a funny feeling in my stomach, I entered the overcrowded office kitchen. Miep, Bep, Mr. Kleiman, Jan, Father, Peter were there (…), all there together in the middle of the day (…) Are we really in hiding? (…) Upstairs the rest of them were standing around the kitchen table hulling strawberries. At least that's what they were supposed to be doing, but more were going into their mouths than into the buckets. (…)Father ended up making jam every evening. We ate hot porridge with strawberries, buttermilk with strawberries, bread and butter with strawberries, strawberries for dessert, straw- berries with sugar, strawberries (…) (293-294)