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Course Hero, "The Diary of a Young Girl Study Guide," January 12, 2017, accessed December 17, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Diary-of-a-Young-Girl/.

The Diary of a Young Girl | Summary

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Summary

On June 12, 1942—Anne Frank's 13th birthday—one of her favorite presents is a diary. She names the diary "Kitty" and immediately begins to record the details of her life, describing her family, friends, and school, as well as summarizing her life up to that point. Anne was born in Germany and lived there until 1933, when life for German Jews became so dangerous that her father moved the family and his business to Holland. At this point (June 1942), World War II has been raging for over two years; Holland has surrendered to Germany, and life for Dutch Jews is becoming increasingly dangerous.

For some time, Anne's parents have been planning to move the family into hiding. When Anne's sister, Margot, is called up to report to a German labor camp, the Franks decide to act immediately. A month after Anne's birthday, the family takes refuge in a small set of rooms—the "Secret Annex"—concealed in and behind Mr. Frank's office building. Shortly thereafter, they're joined by another family, the van Daans, and last of all by a single man whom Anne calls Dr. Dussel. A dedicated band of helpers keeps the hidden residents supplied with food and other necessities—but the residents of the Secret Annex will see no one else for the following two years, nor will they go outside the Annex for any reason.

Little by little, the residents begin to make a life for themselves. Anne and her sister implement their own educational program, one that's as rigorous as any they could find in the outside world. Their parents study Latin and the works of Charles Dickens. Mr. Dussel, a dentist, gives the seven other residents regular dental exams (according to Anne about the only nice thing he does). Mr. Frank and Mr. van Daan, business partners before the war, do what they can for their company, which is just on the other side of the Secret Annex door. And the group gathers every night to listen to news broadcasts on their beloved radio.

The residents struggle with the issues that would face any group forced to live in a small space, eat meals together, share a single bathroom, and remain silent during the day. Anne, the youngest and liveliest, hates the way the adults single her out for criticism. She's also shocked at how fiercely her elders argue over trivialities and resents sharing a bedroom with cranky Mr. Dussel. Working through adolescent struggles with her mother is all the harder because Anne can't venture outdoors or, for most of the time spent in the Annex, even look out the window.

With World War II as a threatening backdrop, Anne writes down as much as she can. She reports on the war, describes her studies, struggles with her parents, and falls in love with Peter van Daan. Rations dwindle, money runs out, and there's always the danger of discovery—but once the Normandy Invasion begins in 1944, Anne begins to hope that the war may actually be winnable.

Tragically, the diary ends before the war does. An afterword explains that Anne and the other residents of the Secret Annex were arrested on August 4, 1944. They were taken to Westerbork, a Dutch transit camp, and deported to various concentration camps. Sometime early in the winter of 1945, Anne died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen camp, along with her sister, Margot. With the exception of Otto Frank, all the other residents, including Anne's mother, perished in various camps.

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