In her diary, Anne Frank often confides her opinion on her housemates to her imaginary friend Kitty. Depending on her own mood, and also as time progresses, she modifies her opinion, recognizes a nuance, or vents her feelings. Peter van Pels, for instance, whom she airily refers to as 'the third table companion' below, will later assume a very important role in her diary. A deep sense of trust grows between them, and it is on the attic of the Secret Annex that Peter gives her her first kiss.
Food is always an important and favorite topic of conversation in the Secret Annex, and comparatively safe in that it doesn't provoke fierce discussions. In the summer of 1943, Anne provides a detailed description of just another day in the life of eight people in hiding, including a description of her housemates in the role of table companions.
On Monday, August 9 she writes in her diary:
"We now continue with a typical day in the Annex. Since we've already had lunch, it's time to describe dinner.
Mr. van Daan [Hermann van Pels]. Is served first, and takes a generous portion of whatever he likes. Usually joins in the conversation, never fails to give his opinion. Once he's spoken, his word is final. If anyone dares to suggest otherwise, Mr. van D. can put up a good fight. Oh, he can hiss like a cat. . . but I'd rather he didn't. Once you've seen it, you never want to see it again. His opinion is the best, he knows the most about everything. Granted, the man has a good head on his shoulders, but it's swelled to no small degree.
Madame [Auguste van Pels]. Actually, the best thing would be to say nothing. Some days, especially when a foul mood is on the way, her face is hard to read. If you analyze the discussions, you realize she's not the subject, but the guilty party! A fact everyone prefers to ignore. Even so, you could call her the instigator. Stirring up trouble, now that's what Mrs. van Daan calls fun. Stirring up trouble between Mrs. Frank and Anne. Margot and Mr. Frank aren t qwte as easy. But let's return to the table. Mrs. van D. may think she doesn't always get enough, but that's not the case. The choicest potatoes, the tastiest morsel, the tenderest bit of whatever there is, that's Madame's motto. (...)
Peter van Pels around 1941/42.The third diner. Says very little. Young Mr. van Daan is usually quiet and hardly makes his presence known. As far as his appetite is concerned, he's a Danaldean vessel that never gets full. Even after the most substantial meal, he can look you calmly in the eye and claim he could have eaten twice as much.
Number four -- Margot. Eats like a bird and doesn't talk at all. She eats only vegetables and fruit. "Spoiled," in the opinion of the van Daans. "Too little exercise and fresh air," in ours.
Beside her -- Mama. Has a hearty appetite, does her share of the talking. No one has the impression, as they do with Mrs. van Daan, that this is a housewife. What's the difference between the two? Well, Mrs. van D. does the cooking and Mother does the dishes and polishes the furniture.
Numbers six and seven. I won't say much about Father and me. The former is the most modest person at the table. He always looks to see whether the others have been served first. He needs nothing for himself; the best things are for the children. He's goodness personified. Seated next to him is the Annex's little bundle of nerves.
Dussel [Fritz Pfeffer]:. Help yourself, keep your eyes on the food, eat and don't talk. And if you have to say something, then for goodness' sake talk about food. That doesn't lead to quarrels, just to bragging. He consumes enormous portions, and "no" is not part of his vocabulary, whether the food is good or bad. 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. This is interrupted only by his afternoon nap, food and -- his favorite spot -- the bathroom."
Quoted from: Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl. The Definitive Edition Viking, an imprint of Penguin books Ltd. London in association with The Folio Society 2006.