Living in hiding

The organized coexistence

The annex at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam is a narrow, tall building of barely 60 square meters, not visible from the street and connected to the front of the house only by a single door, which will later be covered with a revolving bookcase. It has three small rooms, a toilet with sink, a kitchen, and an uninsulated attic.

Because the eight people in hiding have to live locked up together in a very small area, privacy is significantly compromised for each of them. There are hardly any moments of solitude. Furthermore, the poor hygienic conditions, the scarce food rationing, the constant fear of being discovered and of the bombings of the war raging outside make everyday life in the secret annex a real challenge for everyone involved.

In Anne's view, the confined coexistence and the numerous security precautions ensure that everyday life in the secret annex is completely different from “ordinary times and ordinary people” (35%). The inhabitants of the secret annex have to follow a precisely coordinated daily routine, which Anne records in her diary. 

For example, they all make up their beds at the same time in the evening so that they can cover the windows at exactly ten o'clock, and they schedule their lunch break to coincide exactly with the time when the warehouse workers have left the office: “To ensure the safety of all, rest hours must be strictly observed!!!” (20%)

When the dentist Albert Dussel settles into the secret annex, he is impressed by how practically everything is set up and organized. He is particularly impressed by the ironically written secret annex rules imposed by the van Daans.

The secret life

All residents of the secret annex must always be careful not to be discovered by the outside world. To keep their existence secret, they must never open any windows  and must keep the curtains drawn day and night.

 None of them is allowed to look out of the window. The confinement and the cramped conditions in the secret annex depress Anne after only a few weeks: “Not being able to go outside upsets me more than I can say (…)” (8%).

The people in hiding have to spend a large part of the day in absolute silence. Since the secret annex borders directly on the warehouses of the Opekta company and...

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