Books: Lost Child

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ANNE FRANK: THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL (285 pp.)—Doubleday ($3).

Ten years ago this month, a Jewish girl named Anne Frank received a diary for her 13th birthday, and began to keep it with care. The entries were gay-spirited—even though the Franks, refugees from Hitler's Germany, were living in occupied Holland. Anne saw an old Rin-Tin-Tin movie and told her diary about it; her teacher made her write an essay on an "Incurable Chatterbox" because she talked too much, and Anne recorded that too. Then one day, Hitler's Gestapo summoned the Franks for a screening.

The Franks did not keep the appointment.. For some time they had been preparing a hideaway in an unused part of an old office building in Amsterdam. There, with the help of Dutch friends, eight hunted Jews spent two years: the Franks with their daughters Anne and Margot, the Van Daans with their son Peter, and Albert Dussel, a dentist.

Anne kept writing in her diary. Her entries darkened in tone, her writing skill blossomed, her mind leaped to astonishing maturity. The resulting diary is one of the most moving stories that anyone, anywhere, has managed to tell about World War II.

Why Do Grownups? Quarrel? Life was tense in the "Annex." All day, one had to remain quiet for fear of being overheard by those who worked in the building; at night no lights could be shown. By day, Anne shared a tiny room with bristly Dentist Dussel, and had to fight a heroic campaign before he let her share the writing table. Their food, slipped in by Dutch friends, soon began to thin out. Always there was the danger of the police. But worst of all was the strain of being thrown together in a small space, without work or recreation, sometimes without hope.

"Why," wondered Anne, "do grownups quarrel so easily, so much, and over the most idiotic things?" Though their lives were never secure, the two families re-enacted all the banalities of normal domestic life, fighting over how to wash pans and whose plates to use. Anne was constantly being reprimanded for her impulsiveness and chattering. "You only really get to know people," she reflected, "when you've had a jolly good row with them."

"Miss Quack-Quack," as Anne called herself, nonetheless managed to live a rich life. She read Goethe and Schiller, and from newspapers she memorized the plots of all the new movies. She studied Greek mythology and gave herself lessons in shorthand, noting hopefully that for fugitives "it's extremely important to be able to write in a code." She watched herself with constant curiosity, and one day she was delighted to have her older sister Margot tell her she "was quite attractive and . . . had nice eyes."

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