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Chapter Two: A Growing Danger
"You wouldn't dare, Anne Frank!" Hanneli whispered. It was 1939 and she and Anne were hiding behind the sheer summer drapes in the Franks' living room. "Think of the trouble you'll be in if you're caught!"
"You don't thinkI'd dare? Just watch me." Ten-year-old Anne took the cup of water she had filled in the apartment bathroom and balanced it on the windowsill. As her friend watched, wide-eyed, she leaned out the open window and tipped the cup over the sill. The water spilled out....
And splashed onto a man standing three stories below! Startled, he glanced up to see where this sudden shower had come from.
"Duck!" Anne squealed, pulling Hannelli down onto the floor. "We're dead if he sees us!"
Breathlessly, she waited for the sound of the doorbell. It never came. Instead she heard her mother's voice.
"Margot! Anne! Hanneli," Mrs. Frank called out. "Time for lunch."
"We're saved!" Anne said, giggling. She and Hanneli crawled out from behind the drapes. Anne stood up and smoothed down her plaid skirt with her hands. "Coming, Mother," she called, winking at her friend.
Margot was already seated in the cheerful yellow kitchen, eating thick white bread and homemade cabbage soup. Anne pulled up a chair and reached for the bread. "Please pass the little mice," she asked her sister. That was what the Dutch called the chocolate bits they loved to eat with their rolls and pastry.
Margot passed her the bowl of chocolate. "Mother, when I rode my bike to the library this morning, there was a crowd of people at the newsstand," she said with a worried expression on her face. "Has something happened?"
Anne finished buttering her bread on both sides and sprinkled it with little mice. "Maybe the palace has announced that Princess Juliana is having another baby," she said hopefully. Anne was always interested in news about Holland's royal family.
Edith Frank poured Hanneli a big glass of milk. "No, this is news that need not concern you, Anne," she said firmly. "Now, have some more milk. I have a fresh strawberry tart for dessert."
Anne sighed. Her mother was always urging her to eat more. As if her skinny arms and legs were her fault!
"You might as well tell us," Anne said, pouting. "You know father will."
"Will what?" Otto Frank entered the kitchen, a newspaper rolled under his arm.
"Pim!" Anne jumped up and gave her father a big hug. "I thought you were at work!"
"In view of the news, I thought I'd better come home for lunch," Otto Frank said. He caught sight of his wife's disapproving face. "It's no use, Edith, they will find out anyway. The papers are full of it."
He unrolled his newspaper and held it up so all could see. Under the date, September 2, 1939, the headline read: GERMANY INVADES POLAND.
"This is not a man whose promises can be trusted," Mr. Frank said grimly. He ticked off countries on his fingers. "First Austria in 1938. Then Czechoslovakia last spring. Now, Poland."
"Do you think the French and English will stand up to them?" Margot asked. "Will they declare war on Germany?"
"Do you think Holland will go to war, Pim?" Anne asked. Her gray-green eyes shone with excitement.
"Holland was neutral in the last war," Mr. Frank reminded them. "The queen has promised us that it will be neutral again. We shall be safe, you can be assured." He put down the newspaper.
"Father says that no Jews are safe while Hitler is in power," said Hanneli in a small voice.
"Hitler is a madman," Mr. Frank said, his normally calm voice raising a bit. "But Europe is a civilized place. He will not be able to get away with his despicable acts for long." He took a deep breath. "But enough of this," he said, changing the subject. "I think it is time for a song. Hanneli, do you remember the Chinese song I taught you when you were young? Didn't it go something like this?" He hummed a few bars in a nasal voice.
Hanneli and Anne giggled. They knew Mr. Frank was just kidding them. The song wasn't really Chinese. But the nonsense words always made them laugh.
"Yin-yang, yin-yang, vosche-kai-da-vitschki," they sang loudly. "Yang-kai vi-di-vi, aya!"
"Really," Margot complained, holding her hands over her ears. "Mother, can't you make them stop?"
"That's all right, Miss Spoilsport," Anne said. "We were just going!" She and Hanneli ran off to Anne's room, still humming.
"Look, I've got some new photos I want to show you," she told Hanneli. Anne collected celebrity photos from movie magazines. "Here's Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in Carefree." She pointed to a picture of an elegant-looking man in formal wear dancing with a pretty blond woman in a long gauzy dress. "And here's Judy Garland."
"Who's that?" Hanneli asked, peering over her shoulder.
"The new star of The Wizard of Oz," Anne answered. "It's just opened in Hollywood. Look, I have the article."
"She's very pretty," Hanneli said, "but she looks awfully young."
"She's only seventeen," Anne replied. "Imagine being a teenage movie star." She tossed her wavy hair dramatically and patted the back of her head.
Hanneli made her fist into a make-believe microphone and thrust it in front of Anne's face. "What is the secret of your amazing success, Miss Frank?" she asked.
"How can you even ask?" Anne struck a glamorous pose. "I have a gorgeous face, perfect figure, and long, lovely hair." She gave her hair another fling.
"But do you have any special talents, Miss Frank?"
"I have talents galore. I can ice-skate, swim, and do hundreds of imitations. Here is my imitation of a hungry cat." Anne got down on all fours. "Meooow," she said, rubbing her head against Hanneli's legs.
"Don't be silly," Hanneli said, pushing her head away. "Real actresses don't imitate cats."
"Well, you never know," Anne said, getting up again. "One of the actors in The Wizard of Oz plays a lion!"
For the rest of the afternoon they pored through Anne's royalty scrapbook. She collected postcards of European monarchs, especially young people like Princess Elizabeth and Prince Margaret Rose of England, and Prince Carl Gustav of Sweden.
Her favorites, though, were their own good queen, Wilhelmina, and her daughter, Juliana. Wilhelmina had been Holland's queen for forty-two years. Father is right, Anne thought, looking at their queen's kind, sensible face. She would never let anything happen to her loyal subjects!
Eight months later, on May 10, 1940, Anne was awakened by a low rumbling sound. She put her pillow over her ears, hoping to drift back to sleep. But now she heard loud cracks, like far-off thunder.
A low murmur of voices came from the living room.
She tiptoed in to see her mother and Margo already up, still dressed in their pajamas. Her father was fiddling with the dials on the radio. "At four o'clock this morning German troops crossed the Dutch border," she heard the news announcer say. "Bombs are falling on airfields all over Holland."
Anne gasped. Holland was being invaded!
She ran over to her father, who put his arm around her. While her mother went into the kitchen to make coffee, Anne and Margot huddled on the couch and listened. They were joined by Grandma Holländer, who was living with them now. Her careworn face was tight with worry.
A few hours later Queen Wilhelmina addressed her people. Dutch troops were standing up to the invaders, she said. Everyone must stay calm.
The fighting was far from Amsterdam. Except for the dull boom of distant explosions, the city was quiet. Still, Anne and MArgot did not go to school. No one knew what would happen next. That night Anne helped her parents tape the windows to protect against flying glass, in case the city was bombed. Over the tape they placed blackout paper. That way German bombers flying in the dark would not be guided by the lights from houses and shops.
The tiny Dutch army was no match for the might of Hitler's fighting machine. Three days later Queen Wilhelmina, her family, and the whole Dutch government fled by ship to England. Anne couldn't believe their queen would leave at such a time. She had deserted them!
Soon it was all over. The German bombs flattened the Old City of Rotterdam, and General Winkelman announced that the Dutch were surrendering. Holland had fallen.
The morning the Germans marched into Amsterdam, Anne, Margot, and their father watched from his office window. First came a procession of ironclad tanks and vehicles. Next came the troops, strutting to the beat of a military march. Row upon endless row, they filed by, their hobnail boots ringing on the cobblestones, their faces hard as granite.
Most Dutch stood in silent groups as the soldiers passed. A few, though, cheered the troops on. "Long live the Third Reich!" they called out. "Heil Hitler!"
Miep turnd away in disgust. "Filthy Nazis," she hissed. "And the Dutch rats who support them."
"That's enough, girls," said Mr. Frank. "Come away, now."
Anne gave one last glance through the window. Across the street, a red, white, and black Nazi banner waved. In its center stood the dreaded symbol of Nazi might -- the swastika.
For the next few weeks all of Amsterdam held its breath, waiting to see what would happen. When nothing did, life returned to normal, or almost normal. Anne and Margot went back to school, Otto to work. Edith Frank shopped and visited with friends from the synagogue. They almost grew accustomed to the sight of the German policemen, called the Green Police because of their uniforms.
Anne knew that her parents tried to shield her as much as possible. But they couldn't keep her from finding out that the Germans had overrun Belgium and Luxembourg and pushed on into France. On June 23, Adolf Hitler posed for his picture in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. By summer 1940, the Nazis controlled Europe from Norway and Finland in the north, to Poland in the east, to Greece in the south, and to France in the west.
King Leopold III of Belgium was now in the hands of the Nazis. Thank goodness Queen Wilhelmina had escaped after all! Anne realized. Every evening the queen addressed the Dutch people on Radio Orange, the Dutch radio station broadcast from London. The Dutch must continue to fight against the evil and not give up hope, she repeated. Good would prevail in the end.
Now Great Britain was fighting alone against the Nazis. Anne admired their fiery prime minister, Winston Churchill. "We shall fight on the beaches," she heard him declare on the British radio network, the BBC. "We shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender."
Now, every night, Anne could hear the roar of the German planes, the Luftwaffe, on their way to bomb London.
Europe was am armed camp. It was almost impossible for anyone who was Jewish to travel from one country to another. That summer Anne could no longer visit her grandmother Frank in Basel, Switzerland. She could not go to the beach on the North Sea. Her mother told her that her uncles, Walter and Julius Holländer, had escaped from Germany and gone to America.
But for the Franks, the time for escape had passed.
Text copyright © 2005 by Ruth Ashby