Anne Frank Diary Reference :
The Secret in Danger of Discovery
Discussion about Kugler avoiding van Maaren one day in September 1943
Anne closes her 16 September 1943 entry, "Whatever would the people in the street have
thought if they had seen the Manager putting on his shoes outside?" I used to
include the idea of people on the street seeing Kugler because I thought she was
saying that happened. I took a look at Anne's 16 Sept 1943 entry and tried to
follow the route (using the Anne Frank House CD-ROM) that she tried to
describe. I now think Kugler was not in his socks
on the street, and not visible from the street in his socks.
Anne wondered what people would think if they noticed the manager
in his socks. It is not an assertion that any such thing happened.
Anne opens the topic with, "One day Kugler wanted to be extra careful." The bulk
of the story is about his careful route.
Anne specifically mentioned how he reached the secret annexe in the first place:
"the stairs leading straight to us." There are two stairs leading straight to them,
one from the private office, one from the street. Kugler was coming in from the
street. He had just returned from the drug store.
Anne rarely if ever makes special mention of people arriving
via the private office hall staircase: that is the usual way people reach them.
Kugler must have used the left entrance door,
which opens to a long steep stairway leading to a door, past which is the bookcase door
and the other stairway I just mentioned.
(In the CD-ROM, the door at the top of the left entrance staircase is locked and
partially blocked. I am assuming that
the door was not effectively blocked, it only looked blocked, as the
CD-ROM implies. I am also assuming that Kugler had a key, or that it
was not always locked. Also, Peter and Anne used to go to the front attic. How
did they get there? I think they slipped through this door and block and went up
the stairs from there: there is a door to the front attic in that hall. The only
other ways to the front attic involve going outside:
the roof or the front entrance. They were in hiding and would not have risked either.
I believe that door was passable via key or was not always locked.)
When Kugler tried to leave the secret annexe, Bep met him "on the landing" and
told him that v. Maaren was in the office so he should wait.
It is understandable that they would not want to chance taking the usual stairs when
a curious someone was in the office. Wood stairs
tend to creak, those stairs were right behind the office, and there was no
business reason why anyone would need to use those stairs. (This raises the question
of which landing Bep and he met on: either one means one of them used the stairs and then
back again. I can only guess that they did not literally meet. Instead, Bep whispered
up to Kugler from the bottom.)
Kugler returned to the annexe and waited 15 minutes.
Kugler left with his shoes off before Bep came to tell him the office was clear of
Kugler clearly thought he could get back to the office silently and also avoiding v. Maaren.
He went to the "front attic door." I used to think that this meant he went
outside, via Peter's room, to the roof above the bookcase landing and got into the
front attic from there. My sense was
that someone could see him, hence Anne wondered if anyone saw him. It is true
he could have entered the front attic from there, but:
- Anne says "front attic door." There are only windows there.
- His whole purpose in wearing only socks is to avoid drawing attention to
the back house. If someone in the garden or next door
noticed him sneaking up there, especially wincing with every step in his socks, this
would hold their attention, not seem normal at all.
- If he could slip back past the door and block quietly enough, he had excuses to be
in the hall beyond: the storage rooms and the front attic. Such a path was less risky
than being outside and did not require him to wait patiently for Bep to return.
- Wearing only socks on the grit of a roof is a bad idea, especially because:
- He has a cold. The floor in the house was cold in September, but outdoors
would be even worse. My guess is it rains a lot in Amsterdam, so the roof would
be especially cold it it were also wet.
He waited 15 minutes until 1:30.
He had work to do and curious Mr. v. Maaren could notice a long absence, after all.
The spice rooms are directly above the offices and curious v. Maaren could
note that he had made no sounds. The attic is the best route unless he wants to
wait and wait for word that it is all right and Bep may not get a chance to come
around for a while. Kugler heads for the "front attic door" in his socks,
carrying his shoes.
I think he quietly went past the door and phony rubbish pile again. Anne says he
went to the "front attic door" and then quietly down the stairs. This implies that
he stopped at the attic door. There he
could listen to see if anyone was in the spice rooms. If they were, he could
slip up to the attic or back to the annexe. I think he did not hear anything or
sense anyone up there.
Then he quietly went downstairs and waited 15 minutes "to avert any creaks." He
did not wait outside: there are no creaks on pavement. He waited just inside
the doorway. The doorway has no glass or possibly has opaque glass,
in old pictures. No one can see him. Why is he waiting? I think such a wait separates
the time between any possible sound he made going down the stairs from the time of
his entrance. This would reduce any mental connection between the two events if
someone had heard something.
Anne specifically said he entered the office from the outside. This can only mean
he went out on the street and in the next doorway. It was really his only choice
from there. The only danger is if someone
heard him opening and closing the left door and then coming in the next door, but
that could be excused with a change of mind about where he needed to go.
It is possible that someone could have opened the door as he was waiting right
behind it for time to pass and while putting on his shoes, but that did not happen.
Anne would not have wasted paper wondering about an "if": she would have mentioned
what happened. She was very careful about saving paper. So no one opened the door
The point and interest of the story was that Kugler was being extra careful that
day and found a way to avoid being seen or heard and yet avoided waiting too long.
The amusement in the story was that Bep came back for him fairly quickly, so
it was unnecessary to be so clever and risk-taking after all. A point of
interest and amusement in the story is her closing image of
what it would be like if someone had caught him in his socks.