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The Diary of Anne Frank: Free Study Guide - Free BookNotes/Analysis

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Otto Frank, As Portrayed in the Diary

Otto Frank, Anne’s father, was a kind, caring, wise, and practical man. When he saw the Jews being persecuted in Germany, he moved himself and his family to Holland in 1933. Then when the Nazis invaded Holland, he made plans to take his family into hiding, hoping they would all be safe until the end of the war. It is obvious that he was much loved and respected by his Dutch business colleagues, for they were the ones who helped him prepare the annex and kept it supplied, even though they were risking their own lives for the safety of the Frank family. It is also obvious that he was a generous man, for he readily accepted the van Daans and Dussel into the cramped quarters that he had prepared for his family. When Anne complains about the newcomers, he wisely teaches her that the most important thing is to save another Jewish life.

Once the Franks moved into the secret annex, Otto became the leader and peacemaker of the group. It is he and Anne that unpack the family’s belongings and organize the annex. Later, when tempers flared, he often intervened in arguments, calming the opposing forces. Additionally, he found books and created lessons for the young people to keep their minds sharp and to relieve their boredom. When Anne came to him for comfort or advice, he always found time for her.

Because she had such a distant and negative relationship with her mother, Anne became very close to her father. It was his gift on her thirteenth birthday that she liked best. It was to him that she turns for solace once the family went into hiding. Sometimes when she was scared by the bombing during the night, she would climb in bed beside her father, who would calm her down and reassure her. Frank was truly a wise man and a loving father and husband.

Mr. and Mrs. van Daan

Mr. van Daan was a former business associate of Otto Frank. He, his wife, and his son Peter join the Franks in the secret annex. Although Mr. Daan was not well developed in the diary, Anne did indicate that he was a chain smoker. As long as he had cigarettes, he was a quiet and calm man, but without them, he grew cranky. He forced Mrs. van Daan to sell her fur coat to support his smoking habit.

Anne described Mrs. van Daan as a quarrelsome and irritating woman. She was always picking a fight with someone, especially her husband. She also constantly criticized Anne’s behavior, indicating she had been improperly raised. Although all of the Franks found her troublesome and lazy, they could do nothing about her.

Neither Mr. Daan nor his wife was a good parent. They never knew how to properly handle Peter’s disobedience. When he read a book not meant for him, Mr. van Daan grew furious and beat Peter, an action that made the Franks even more uncomfortable.

Both Mr. and Mrs. van Daan were captured by the Gestapo and died at Auschwitz.

Peter van Daan

Peter is the fifteen-year-old son of the van Daans. When he arrives at the secret annex with his parents, Anne judges him to be shy and awkward. Although he is attractive, with blue eyes and dark, curly hair, she thinks he will never be good company for her. During the two years that they stay in the attic, they become very good friends. When her parents scold her for spending too much time with him, she stands up to them, refusing to change her behavior, for when she is with Peter she has a bit of happiness amidst her misery. When Anne receives her first kiss from him, she is delighted. By the time they are captured, Anne realizes that she is in love with Peter.

When Peter and Anne are captured by the Gestapo and sent to Westerbork, it is reported that they are constantly together. At Auschwitz, however, the pair is permanently separated. In January of 1945, Peter had to leave the Auschwitz camp with the SS guards on a forced 35 mile “death march” to a train station to be taken to Mathausen-Gusen. Otto Frank tried to persuade the boy to stay back, but Peter was too afraid. Peter died in May, 1945 at the Mathausen-Gusen concentration camp.

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