The Diary of a Young Girl | Study Guide

Anne Frank

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The Diary of a Young Girl | March 3–March 8, 1944 | Summary

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Summary

March 3–March 6, 1944

Anne Frank can't stop thinking and talking about Peter van Daan, and talking to him whenever she gets a chance. The two are discovering more and more about each other. Anne's pretty sure she's in love, but she's still not sure how Peter feels about her. Although she can remain fairly objective and analytical about her emotions, she's often swept away by romantic rapture. "Together we could banish our loneliness, yours and mine!" she gushes on March 6.

March 7–March 8, 1944

Perhaps her infatuation makes Anne remember old relationships, for on March 7 she embarks on a detailed analysis of her former self. She realizes how much she has changed, and considers herself less "superficial" than she had been. At school she was always popular—"the class comedian, the eternal ringleader, never in a bad mood, never a crybaby ... What's remained of that Anne Frank?" Looking back, Anne recalls feeling miserable for the first part of her life in hiding—from 1942 until the second half of 1943. She's worked hard to improve herself, and she's done it on her own, without her parents' help. Her reward for struggling so hard is this new relationship with Peter: the suffering she's endured in the Secret Annex brought her to him. Her entry for March 7 ends, "Beauty remains, even in misfortune ... A person who's happy will make others happy; a person who has courage and faith will never die in misery!"

Analysis

Although their attraction for each other is growing, Anne's descriptions of Peter never seem to measure up to her exalted feelings about him, certainly not in comparison to her dramatic descriptions of her love for Peter Schiff. She often sounds more maternal than love-struck. She speaks of wanting to help him (March 2) and often refers to him as "poor Peter," as if she feels sorry for him. "He needs to be loved so much," she says on March 6. On March 8, she confesses that she has been dreaming of Peter, but when she imagines kissing him, she finds his "cheeks ... weren't as soft as they looked." At other times, she places excessive weight on his importance in her life. They are not even a couple yet, but she declares dramatically on March 7, "Now I live only for Peter, since what happens to me in the future depends largely on him!"

Other than what Anne writes in her diary, what is known about Peter van Daan, whose real name was Peter van Pels? Like Anne, Peter was born in Germany and moved to Holland with his parents when the Nazis appeared in force. When the residents of the Secret Annex were arrested in 1944, they were sent to Westerbork transit camp and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the extermination camp in occupied Poland. Peter and his parents survived the first selection, meaning that they were not immediately put to death. But later, Mrs. van Pels was sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and then to the camp in Theresienstadt, where she would die in April 1945. Peter and his father remained in Auschwitz. A few weeks after their arrival, Mr. van Pels was put to death.

In January 1945, as the Soviet army moved into occupied Poland, Nazi officials sent 60,000 Auschwitz prisoners on a forced march to Loslau, about 35 miles away. About 15,000 of these prisoners died en route. The remainder were shipped, in railroad cattle cars, to other camps. Peter van Pels survived the march and was sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. He died there on May 10, 1945—only three days before the camp was liberated by Allied forces.

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