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Anne Frank In Amsterdam, Her Diary and the Lost Fountain Pen

Andrew has been writing for decades, publishing articles online and in print. His many interests include literature, the arts and nature.

A young, enthusiastic Anne Frank

A young, enthusiastic Anne Frank

Anne Frank House, Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

Anne Frank House, Prinsengracht, Amsterdam

Anne Frank - her Diary and the Pen

Anne Frank and her family were forced to hide in an attic on Prinsengracht, Amsterdam, from the 9th July 1942, to avoid being arrested by the invading Nazi regime. Jews were being systematically murdered on Hitler's orders - the so called final solution.

When I lived in the Netherlands I visited Amsterdam several times and spent some hours in and days around the Anne Frank house on Prinsengracht near the Westermarkt. You can pay a little money and walk around the rooms in which she and her family hid from the Nazis until their betrayal and capture in August 1944.

The Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 meant that, as Jews, the Frank family would eventually be split up and transported to one of the notorious concentration camps. Anne and her sister Margot ended up in Auschwitz.

To avoid this happening Otto, Anne's father, moved his family into number 263, where he continued his business - as a producer of pectin, on the ground floor, whilst the family lived two floors above in the annex.

Like many who spend time in the Achterhuis I was emotionally moved. The place is virtually unchanged, taking you back in time to the days of Nazi occupation and oppression. Just think. On the streets the sound of soldier's boots marching up and down. Horror stories filtering through.

A terrorised family living from day to day, minute to minute, in a forced silence, never knowing if the next knock on the door would signal the end - which did come two years later on the 4th August 1944.

You can't help but admire the bravery of Anne Frank; to continue her writing with such positive spirit no matter what might be around the corner.

Extract from Anne Frank's Diary

July 8th 1942: “At three o’clock (Hello had left but was supposed to come back later), the doorbell rang. I didn’t hear it, since I was out on the balcony, lazily reading in the sun. A little while later Margot appeared in the kitchen doorway looking very agitated. “Father has received a call-up notice from the SS,” she whispered. “Mother has gone to see Mr. van Daan” (Mr. van Daan is Father’s business partner and a good friend.) I was stunned. A call-up: everyone knows what that means. Visions of concentration camps and lonely cells raced through my head. How could we let Father go to such a fate? “Of course he’s not going,” declared Margot as we waited for Mother in the living room. “Mother’s gone to Mr. van Daan to ask whether we can move to our hiding place tomorrow. The van Daans are going with us. There will be seven of us altogether.” Silence. We couldn’t speak. The thought of Father off visiting someone in the Jewish Hospital and completely unaware of what was happening, the long wait for Mother, the heat, the suspense – all this reduced us to silence.”

Taken from: alphahistory.com/holocaust/anne-frank-diary-1942-44/

The horse chestnut tree Anne Frank wrote about in her diary.

The horse chestnut tree Anne Frank wrote about in her diary.

Anne Frank's Fountain Pen

Anne was given a brand new fountain pen by her grandmother in 1938. You can picture her excitement as she takes it out of the cotton wool in readiness for its first 'outing' on paper.

There she is, filling it with blue ink from a small bottle, beginning to scribble her latest piece.

Unfortunately she managed to lose the precious pen some years later whilst living in the achterhuis. She describes the incident beautifully in one of her diary entries for Thursday 11th November 1943.

'Ode to my fountain pen' she writes because on that day her pen was accidentally destroyed in the stove, thrown in with some odds and ends of paper and bean skins.

Because it was part made of celluloid it went up like dry tinder. Anne saw this for herself because she was the one who tossed the rubbish into the stove!

Next morning her father recovered the clip from the ashes but the nib had 'melted into stone'. In a cruel twist of irony Anne wrote 'my fountain pen was cremated, just as I would like to be some day.'

Miep Gies with a picture of Anne Frank.

Miep Gies with a picture of Anne Frank.

Miep Gies The Brave Dutch Woman

Special mention must be made of Miep Gies, a Dutch lady who helped Anne Frank and her family whilst they were in Amsterdam. Her bravery in the face of Nazi occupation was remarkable. She lived to be 100 years old, passing away in 2010.


Something stayed in my mind's eye for weeks after my last visit. It was related to Anne's diary, on show behind a glass case in one of the rooms, open at a certain page. Her handwriting is so neat and purposeful, it flows along the line in a light yet determined way. You could tell that she was a naturally gifted writer, full of enthusiasm and original observation.

Her optimism, humour and intelligence shine out of her writing at a time when, you'd imagine, the emotional undercurrents must have been almost unbearable.

The image that wouldn't go away was a simple bottle of dark blue ink.

An idea for a poem came to me and I started to jot down a few words and phrases to help capture those hours I spent in the Achterhuis. It had to contain the bottle, pen and book and it had to do justice to the spirit of Anne Frank.

It's taken a good ten years to fashion those initial words into something that at least pretends to be a poem.

Achterhuis Blue

I

The darkest blue in the squat bottle,

a night sky, collecting what's to come,

future stars and Europe's black hole.

Twist the lid, let her days emerge

from a golden nib running with

quick breaths into a narrowing world.


II

Behind the bookcase

figures statuesque as the knocks persist.

What's to come, already here.

A bizarre rehearsal. Better still.

Practice with the eyes whilst trains

of thought vanish into the night.


III

She sips a thin soup in a pittance of sunlight

then sits to write her words of blue.

A hint of pectin and pepper in the air

as limbs mercurial work away.

Her diary never lies

about the coming night skies,

bottled prussique strangely contented.

What fibres of light stream in

across the folios, day merging into

visions of naked gypsy girls that she will

turn into a world of dance.

What's to come, already gone.


IV

The chestnut tree generates new leaves.

The butterfly has creased wings

and waits for them to dry. It is now, it is then.

Cracked old chestnut taps at the window

as achterhuis dreams float out the longest chimney.

She writes of blue love beyond the threshold,

her days emerge from the golden nib,

she grows the book of what's to come.

Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

Anne Frank Memorial Bergen Belsen.

Anne Frank Memorial Bergen Belsen.

© 2012 Andrew Spacey

Comments

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on September 02, 2020:

Grateful for the visit and comment John Murphree.

John Murphree from Tennessee on September 02, 2020:

This is a lovely tribute to the true greatness of this wonderful young woman and her marvelous work.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on March 09, 2013:

Thank you for the visit and comment Sheri Faye. Anne Frank is a reminder to us all of the way an artist can still create no matter the threat hanging over them.

Sheri Dusseault from Chemainus. BC, Canada on February 23, 2013:

Simply beautiful. I have read the book many times. Such sweet innocence in spite of the horrors. I hope somewhere, somehow she know her impact on the world. Well done!

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on February 02, 2013:

Thank you for this visit and comment. Anne Frank was such a natural writer, her story touches the heart.

Leanna Stead from North Carolina, United States on February 02, 2013:

I remember doing a presentation of her diary while in college -- I burst into tears and could barely finish.

Thank you.

Amy from Illinois on December 13, 2012:

Man this is great! I have not a clue how to make my hubs this good...I just started :(

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on September 21, 2012:

Thank you. I really appreciate your visit and comment. I find Anne Frank's story stirs such deep feelings - such a gifted writer living in a time of ignorance, hatred and upheaval. I would recommend a visit to the Achterhuis for every person on the planet.

visionandfocus from North York, Canada on September 20, 2012:

What a beautifully-crafted poem--a fitting tribute to Anne Frank. I feel certain she would have loved it. Thanks for sharing.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on July 19, 2012:

Thank you for the visit and comment HLKeeley. I'm glad you've experienced the house and rooms and been given the opportunity to connect with Anne Frank. Her story touches so many.

With her talent I'm sure she would have made her mark somehow in the writing world - a journalist I think, a war correspondent, sending news back from terrorised parts of the world.

HL Keeley from Charlotte, NC on July 19, 2012:

I visited the house when I went with People to People. I never realized that the way I imagined it when I read the book was not the accurate picture. Her room that she shared with her sister and then the old guy (I cant remember his name) was the size of a hallway. Her pictures are still pinned to the wall. You can look at the attic but not go in because of the plastic cover.

I really love that her father would not let them replicate the furniture. It feels more real when you are there and everything is original, even the bookcase still on hinges. My copy of the book I bought at the house. It is so incredible to visit and I encourage everyone to try to see it.

As for the poem, it is beautifully written. It is strong, but still delicate. That is how I perceived Anne. She was strong for her age, but being a teenager and a female she was still a delicate flower bud just opening her pedals. Her stem cut too soon before she could truly blossom. I wonder what would have happened if she lived. Would she have gotten famous? Then I realize she was destined to write that journal, to go into hiding, and like all great people die so young.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on July 18, 2012:

Good to have a visit and comment, thank you. I think I replied but there are many ways to reply!

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on July 18, 2012:

So many ways to reply and say thank you again! Nice to have a visit and comment.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on July 18, 2012:

Thank you - I think I have already sent you a reply - so many ways to say thank you for visiting and leaving a comment.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on July 18, 2012:

Many thanks for your visit, always welcoming.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on July 18, 2012:

seeker 7,thank you, I really appreciate your vote and sharing. Anne Frank's story gives us so much to contemplate - it's a timeless message she sends out.

Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on July 18, 2012:

This is awesome - if Anne could see any of your work she would be touched by the beautiful and profound honour you do her.

I found this whole hub very moving and a fitting tribute to this beautiful and talented young girl whose innocent life was cut so cruelly short! I remember reading the Anne's diary many years ago for the first time and the shock to the system when you come to empty pages! Even after reading it numerous times since, those empty pages don't get any less sickening or sorrowful.

I loved this hub!!! Voted up + shared!

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on July 02, 2012:

This is lovely! I love Anne Frank and her story. It's one of my favorite. Pity, I didn't get the chance to see her place when I was in Amsterdam many years ago. And her line: "my fountain pen was cremated, just as I would like to be some day." -- has left such an impact for us readers. This is a perfect read for me this Sunday evening. Thanks.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on June 29, 2012:

Anne Frank huis should be a destination for all those who want to try to understand what it is to be human. It's good to know that you have been there Anginwu. Thank you for the visit and comment.

anglnwu on June 29, 2012:

Beautiful poem that captures Anne Frank's cornered existence. I had the priviledge of visitng Anne Frank''s house last summer. It was a touching experience to walk through the place where she hid, the windows darkened, in small spaces, she existed an existence that could be hard for anyone to imagine but she held her own--possibly the bottle of ink gave her hope and strength. Great hub and sharing.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on June 27, 2012:

Thanks for the visit and comment and vote kerlynb - much appreciated. Yes I can just see Anne in that dusty achterhuis sitting at a small table, pen in hand ready to write. About what? Well, life as she knew it. There was always so much going on in her lively mind I don't think she was ever stuck for something to write about! If you've never been to Prinsengracht I'd recommend a visit.

kerlynb from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ on June 27, 2012:

Oh my, the vid! Thanks for including it in your hub. I've read her diary again and again and each time I'd read it I would always be wondering how she could find so many things to say and write about in their small secret hiding place. The ugliness of war and the Nazis! Voting your hub up, interesting, and beautiful!

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on June 25, 2012:

Many thanks for the visit and comment, appreciate your time. I had to republish again for reasons beyond my control so I'm a bit late replying.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on June 23, 2012:

great article, thank you for your work

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