The Diary of a Young Girl: Character Profiles
Albert Dussel is a fifty-four-year-old Jewish dentist. The Franks and the van Daans invite him to join them in the annex in November, 1942. He shares a room with Anne, and she quickly grows tired of what she sees as his high-handed manner. Anne's quarrels with Dussel are one of the main features of the diary. Her satirical portrait of him is recorded in her diary entry for August 9, 1943: "Pants that come up to his chest, a red jacket, black patent-leather slippers and horn-rimmed glasses-that's how he looks when he's at work at the little table, always studying and never progressing." In Anne's eyes, Dussel is pompous, petty and unreasonable.
Anne gave pseudonyms to the other residents of the attic. In real life, Dussel was Fritz Pfeffer. He died on December 20, 1944, in the Neuengamme concentration camp.
Anne Frank is the author of the diary. She was born in 1929, in Frankfurt. When she was four years old, the family moved to Amsterdam, where Anne attended a Montesorri school, and later, after Jewish children were expelled from their schools, a Jewish lyceum. Anne was an attractive, popular, outgoing girl, the center of attention at parties. Anne's life changed dramatically when the family went into hiding. She was cut off from all her former pursuits and had to face her adolescent years confined to an annex with seven other people, unable to go outside even for a moment. Anne was given a diary for her thirteenth birthday, and decided to record in it all her innermost thoughts and feelings, which she felt she could not confide to anyone.
After the residents of the annex were arrested on August 4, 1944, Anne was sent with her family to Westerbrok, a labor camp in Holland. On September 3, 1944, she along with the others was transported to Auschwitz concentration camp, in Poland. At the end of October, Anne and Margot were sent to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany. Conditions were unsanitary and disease was rife. The prisoners were given almost no food or decent clothing. There was an epidemic of typhus, and Anne and Margot both fell ill. They died within days of each other, in February or March, 1945. Anne's body was dumped in a mass grave.
Edith Frank is Anne Frank's mother, a well educated woman from a well-to-do family who married Otto Frank in 1925. Anne and her mother were never close, and during the two and a half years in which she kept her diary, Anne maintains a very critical attitude towards her, on many occasions rejecting her altogether. Anne feels that her mother favors Margot, and she resents her mother's criticisms. She thinks her mother does not understand her and treats her as a child. In early 1944, however, Anne rethinks her attitude, realizing that she may have been too harsh on her mother. She realizes that her own attitude put her mother in a difficult position, and together with the stress of being in hiding, this helped to make her nervous and irritable. But in spite of her effort to understand, Anne still cannot give her mother the kind of love that a daughter would normally feel.
Edith Frank died of hunger and exhaustion in Auschwitz concentration camp on January 6, 1945.
Margot Frank is Anne's sister. She is three years older than Anne. Margot is beautiful and gifted and always excelled in school. Anne and Margot are not close, and Anne feels that her parents favor Margot over her. It may be that Anne is jealous of her sister, although she never openly admits this. She writes in one entry that Margot gets on her nerves constantly. But later in their stay in the annex, they reach an understanding and become more friendly, even writing letters to each other in which they reveal their feelings.
Margot Frank died of typhus at the German concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen sometime in March, 1945.
Otto Frank is the husband of Edith Frank and the father of Margot and Anne. Otto was born in Germany and served in the German Army in World War I, attaining the rank of Lieutenant of the Reserves. When anti-Semitism arose in Germany, he moved his family to Amsterdam in 1933. Otto was a businessman, and in Amsterdam he set up an independent company called Opekta, which made pectin, an ingredient used in jam. The company was successful and in 1938 expanded to include the production of spices. In Anne's diary, Otto emerges as a tolerant, good-tempered man and loving father. He is also very modest and does not talk much about himself. Anne calls him Pim and is devoted to him. Otto tries in vain, however, to mediate in the quarrels between Anne and her mother, and Anne sometimes complains that even he treats her like a child.
Otto Frank was the only member of the eight residents of the annex to survive the war. He was liberated from Auschwitz concentration camp by Russian troops. After the war, Miep Gies gave him Anne's diary; he edited it and it was published in 1947.
Jan Gies is Miep's husband. He helps the Franks go into hiding.
Miep Gies was born in Austria in 1909. In 1933 she began working as an office assistant for Otto Frank. When he asked her in 1942 if she would take care of them if they went into hiding, she unhesitatingly replied that she would. For over two years she brought the residents of the annex food and whatever else they needed, as well as news from the outside world. She knew that she was taking a great personal risk in doing so. After the Franks were arrested, Miep rescued Anne's diary and returned it to Otto Frank after the war. Miep has received many international honors for her courage in sheltering the Franks. She is still alive and lives in Holland. She says that every year on August 4, the day of the arrest, she grieves for the friends she lost.
Hanneli is Anne's childhood friend. Anne does not know what has happened to her and dreams of her. She prays that Hanneli may be safe. The two girls were to meet again at the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in 1944. Hanneli Goslar was sick with tuberculosis, but she survived the camp and emigrated to Jerusalem in 1947.
Johannes Kleiman is a friend and business associate of Otto Frank. He works in the building where the Franks and van Daans are in hiding and provides them with all the help they need. Anne describes him as unfailingly cheerful and extremely brave, since he is seriously ill with a stomach problem. Kleiman was arrested along with the others in 1944 and sent to a work camp. But he was later released because of his ill health.
Victor Kugler is a business associate of Otto Frank. He is one of the people who helps the Franks and van Daans when they are in hiding. He makes a point of bringing Anne one of her favorite magazines, Cinema & Theater, every Monday, which greatly pleases her. Kugler was arrested with the others in August, 1944. In March, 1945, he was among six hundred prisoners being deported to Germany when British troops attacked, and he managed to escape. In 1973, he was awarded the Medal of the Righteous in Jerusalem for his efforts in sheltering the Franks and the van Daans.
Peter Schiff is a childhood sweetheart of Anne Frank.
Hello Silberberg is a boy with whom Anne forms a romantic friendship a short while before she goes into hiding.
Mr. van Daan
Mr. van Daan, whose real name was Hermann van Pels, is a businessman and friend of Otto Frank. Like the Franks, he is a Jewish German refugee. The Franks invite him and his wife to go into hiding with them. Mr. van Daan and his wife frequently quarrel, and make no attempt to disguise their feelings, but then they make up affectionately. The Franks, who are more reserved, are uncomfortable with this kind of behavior and increasingly distance themselves from the van Daans. After the arrest in 1944, Hermann van Pels died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz in October or November, 1944.
Mrs. van Daan
Mrs. van Daan, whose real name was Auguste van Pels, is presented in Anne's diary as an emotional, quick-tempered woman. Anne takes a thorough dislike to her. "Mrs. van Daan is always saying the most ridiculous things" (May 2, 1943), is one of her milder comments, and she also uses words like pushy, vain, egotistical and cunning to describe her. The hostile feelings appear to have been mutual. After the arrest, Auguste van Pels was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp and then moved to several other camps, including Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald and Theresienstadt. She did not survive, but the exact date of her death is unknown.
Peter van Daan
Peter van Daan is the son of Mr. and Mrs. van Daan. Fifteen years old when he first moves to the annex, he is a quiet, shy, rather awkward and nervous boy. Anne thinks little of him at first, but later she befriends him and they have quite an intense emotional and romantic relationship. Ultimately, Anne is disappointed in Peter because they do not communicate as deeply as she would like. Peter van Daan, whose real name was Peter van Pels, died on May 5, 1945, in Mauthausen in Austria, where he had been forced to march from the concentration camp at Auschwitz. The march became known as the "death march" because so many of the prisoners forced to take part in it died.
Mr. van Maaren
Mr. van Maaren is hired as warehouse foreman in 1943. The residents of the annex feel uneasy about him because he is always snooping about, and they fear he suspects that some Jews are in hiding in the building. It is possible that van Maaren was the person who betrayed the Franks, but in an official inquiry after the war, nothing was proven against him.
Bep Voskiujl is a twenty-three year-old typist who works in the office of Otto Frank's company in the same building as the hideaways. She visits them during the day and also, with Miep, brings supplies, including bringing them milk without any of the warehouse workers noticing. She helps in other ways, too, sending in Margot's shorthand lessons in under her own name. Anne appreciates all the help she gives. When Bep copies a picture postcard of the Dutch royal family and gives it to Anne, Anne comments, "It was incredibly nice of Bep, don't you think?"