Title : Fear
Author : Anne Frank
Date : March 25, 1944
English Translation by: Michel Mok
It was a terrible time through which I was living. The war raged about
us, and nobody knew whether or not he would be alive the next hour. My
parents, brothers, sisters, and I made our home in the city, but we
expected that we either would be evacuated or have to escape in some
other way. By day the sound of cannon and rifle shots was almost
continuous, and the nights were mysteriously filled with sparks and
sudden explosions that seemed to come from some unknown depth.
I cannot describe it; I don’t remember that tumult quite clearly, but
I do know that all day long I was in the grip of fear. My parents
tried everything to calm me, but it didn’t help. I felt nothing,
nothing but fear; I could neither eat nor sleep– fear clawed at my
mind and body and shook me. That lasted for about a week; then came an
evening and a night which I recall as though it had been yesterday.
At half past eight, when the shooting had somewhat died down, I lay in
a sort of half doze on a sofa. Suddenly all of us were startled by two
violent explosions. As though stuck with knives, we all jumped up and
ran into the hall. Even Mother, usually so calm, looked pale. The
explosions repeated themselves at pretty regular intervals. Then: a
tremendous crash, the noise of much breaking glass, and an
earsplitting chorus of yelling and screaming. I put on what heavy
clothes I could find in a hurry, threw some things into a rucksack,
and ran. I ran as fast as I could, ran on and on to get away from the
fiercely burning mass about me. Everywhere shouting people darted to
and fro; the street was alight with a fearsome red glow.
I didn’t think of my parents or of my brothers and sisters. I had
thoughts only for myself and knew that I must rush, rush, rush! I
didn’t feel any fatigue; my fear was too strong. I didn’t know that I
had lost my rucksack. All I felt and knew was that I had to run. I
couldn’t possibly say how long I ran on with the image of the burning
houses, the desperate people and their distorted faces before me. Then
I sensed that it had got more quiet. I looked around and, as if waking
up from a night- mare, I say that there was nothing or no one behind
me. No fire, no bombs, no people. I looked a little more closely and
found that I stood in a meadow. Above me the stars glistened and the
moon shone; it was brilliant weather, crisp but not cold.
I didn’t hear a sound. Exhausted, I sat down on the grass, then spread
the blanket I had been carrying on my arm, and stretched out on it.
I looked up into the sky and realized that I was no longer afraid; on
the contrary, I felt very peaceful inside. The funny thing was that I
didn’t think of my family, nor yearn for them; I yearned only for
rest, and it wasn’t long before I fell asleep there in the grass,
under the sky.
When I woke up the sun was just rising. I immediately knew where I
was; in the daylight I recognized the houses at the outskirts of our
city. I rubbed my eyes and had a good look around. There was no one to
be seen; the dandelions and the clover-leaves in the grass were my
only company. Lying back on the blanket for awhile, I mused about what
to do next. But my thoughts wandered off from the subject and returned
to the wonderful feeling of the night before, when I sat in the grass
and was no longer afraid.
Later I found my parents, and together we moved to another town. Now
that the war is over, I know why my fear disappeared under the wide,
wide heavens. When I was alone with nature, I realized — realized
without actually knowing it — that fear is a sickness for which there
is only one remedy. Anyone who is as afraid, as I was then, should
look at nature and see that God is much closer than most people think.
Since that time I have never been afraid again, no matter how many
bombs fell near me.