The Diary of Anne Frank: Confinement of Time and Mobility

Imagine a life controlled by strict regulations of time, your life becomes a puppet run by the Government. The government controls your location and time by enacting over 2,000 anti-Jewish regulations, which regulate your every movement and immobilize the life you once knew (Gutman 52-54). This was the lifestyle that became routine for most Jews in Germany, Poland and Denmark in the 1940’s due to Hitler’s takeover in Europe. The arrival of the Germans severely altered the daily schedules and the future of the Jewish community, including the Frank family. The Frank’s made the decision to passively resist the regulations and restrictions enforced by Hitler by hiding in a secret Annex. Although choosing to hide imposed restrictions on the Frank family they still maintained some control over their thoughts, daily routines, and schedules, thus defying the temporal exterior confinements, which Hitler regimented. By passively resisting the Nazi regime the Frank's present the possibility to control their own temporal life in the Annex by mobility, time, and self-identity.

By resisting the Germans regulations Anne developed a new meaning of mobility by defining it to be an inner freedom. The passive yet bold action of breaking free from the set regulations enabled Anne to experience a freedom that most Jews lost during the Nazi rule. Freedom for Jews became severely restricted largely due to a series of anti-Jewish transportation decrees. The decrees required Jews to turn in their bicycles forbid them to use streetcars or ride in automobiles and they even had to walk on certain sides of the street (Frank 8). These regulations became instituted between 1933-1939 and regulated all movement in the Jewish community. The Nazi takeover immobilized the entire Jewish community. Jewish people could not travel across the borders of other countries with out getting their passport stamped with a "J" signifying their identity (Hecht 63). These regulation lead the Frank's to make the final decision to defy the Nazi’s and remobilize their lives in a small confined space, the Annex. Although, the Franks had a "J" permanently stamped on their passports prior to their life in the Annex, the act of residing in the Annex re-mobilized their freedom. The mobilization Anne and her family experienced in the Annex became a manner of walking on their tiptoes rather than being forced to walk a "march of death."

The chosen life in the Annex forced the Frank’s into a small occupancy, yet it opened a world of mobility, which they could not experience in the outside world. Their movement was constrained within the walls of the Annex rather than the wrath of the Nazi’s where Jews were labeled and unable to openly express their faith. Anne experienced a sense of mobility as she openly expressed her feelings and inner thoughts without the Germans regulating her every movement and thought. Anne writes in her diary, "The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings; otherwise, I’d absolutely suffocate" (Frank 216). The Annex allowed Anne to take control over her own thoughts and feelings where she could begin to live life like a human being rather than an outcast. Her inner strength and hope made the walls of the Annex grow and life became her own because she was the one who was in control of the final outcome.

Living in the Annex provided the Franks with a sense of mobility, but due to the isolation from the outside world their mobility was bound by time. The separation of the Jews and Germans in both location and time initiated many restrictions for the Jews. Starting September 3, 1939 anti-Jewish programs were enacted that focused on time constraints (Chartock 22-27). The Jews were banned to walk on the streets passed 9pm in the summer and 8pm in the winter and could only shop at stores between the hours of 3 to 5pm (Chartock 26-28). Around 1939, the German Legislation forbid Jews to leave their house of residences, and starting putting Jews in ghettos which limited their access to facilities and limited their existing life (Grobman & Landes 116-117). In one passage from the book, Anne proposed a prospectus guide to the secret Annex listing regulations and time constraints in which she scheduled her life. The schedule, which the Frank family abided by, paralleled the structure of the regulations set by the Germans. Unlike the German constraints their routine schedule defined their lives and became a comfort rather than restricting their mobility to live.

The Franks daily rituals of bath, exercise, meal and radio schedules became defined by their own standards rather than the Germans. The lives of the family became determined by the daily activities and rituals, which enabled them with a sense a power in a time when most Jews were powerless. Anne’s activities consisted of a regimented schedule that included meal times which were breakfast at 9am (daily except on holidays), lunch from 1:15 to 1:45pm and dinner which depended on the length of the news broadcast (Frank 69-70). Although, the Germans still shaped their lives, the Annex provided a glimmer of hope to control their own actions. Anne realized the potential hope and said, "I know that I am a woman, a woman with inner strength and a great deal of courage! If god lets me live, I’ll achieve more than Mother ever did, I’ll make my voice heard, I’ll go out into the world and work for mankind" (Frank 258). The regimented life she kept in the Annex enabled her to never lose sight of the tangible goal of achieving freedom from the Germans. She kept her dreams and faith alive never caving into the constraints of the Nazis. The powerful weapon of resistance allowed Anne to marvel in a temporal freedom while ironically being confined in the small comforting boundaries of the Annex.

The confinements of Nazi law not only bound the Jews by limited time but it also limited how and when they practiced their faith. The Germans started to control their calendars by banning Jews from the streets on Nazi holidays (Chartock 26). Jews couldn’t participate in social activities on "Sunday" because it was the holy Christian day (Hecht 21-24). The Frank’s daily schedule differed from the Jews in the outside world, and their schedule became a comfort because they were the one’s in control rather than the Germans. Anne said, "Father, Mother and Margot still can’t get used to the chiming of the Westertoren clock, which tells us the time every quarter of the hour. Not me, I liked it form the start it sounds so reassuring, especially at night" (Frank 26). Time with a daily schedule became a comfort because it had defined end result. While in reality the Jews had no idea when time would abruptly end because their fate was at the hands of the Germans. The Annex provided Anne with power and identity to define time, which was of essence, and her manipulation of temporal existence allowed her to live life. Although her life pertained in small dusty Annex, time became a salvation that stood for hope.

Through restriction of mobility time and location the Germans planned on destroying the identity of Jews. By identifying the Jews with a "J" on their passports and yellow stars on their breasts and only allowing them shop at restricted hours the Germans slowly destroyed the inner independence of the Jewish community. Time became the enemy initiated by Hitler’s Final Plan, which was to destroy all Jews. Initially Hitler’s plan was to regulate the Jews and kick them out of the Germany, but by controlling the Jews with strict regulations of time and mobility he tainted the Jews identity (Yehuda 17-18). By isolating the Jews to one schedule their independence became lost. Anne said, "We’ve been strongly reminded of the fact that we are Jews in chains, chained to one spot, without any rights, but with a thousand obligations. The time will come when we’ll be people again, and not just Jews" (Frank 256-257). Anne’s inner cry to become an individual is constrained by the force of time. The stripping of her identity and citizenship plunges her into reality that life in the Annex is the future. The realization that once the power of controlling time is stripped away from her life her identity begins to spiral downward into a chaos of confusion. The freedom of individuality, which Anne once had in an early period of her life, becomes lost to time. Time is initially the essence of life, by Hitler controlling the Jews he controls their identity.

Through Anne’s dairy the secret Annex represents the resistance the Frank’s had against the German’s regulations and restrictions. By breaking free from the German’s powerful control over the Jews location and time the Frank’s were able to regulate their own mobility, time, and self-identity. The two years spent in the Annex became a haven where time was valued with great importance. Even if their control of time was miniscule compared to their earlier lives, the Annex installed a sense of power to control, which Hitler banned from Jews in the outside world. Time and mobility were valued at high costs, so when this right was taken away it destroyed the identities of the Jewish community. By hiding in the Annex Anne and her family overcame this obstacle and were able to find comfort in time. To thousands of Jews during World War II time was a march towards death and in one young Jewish girls story, time became a formula for hope.