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Mr. Van Daan in Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Danielle Zoeller, Catherine Rose
  • Author
    Danielle Zoeller

    Dani Zoeller is a freelance writer and has taught 5th-8th grade Language Arts for 11 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Illinois State University and a Master’s degree in English from Northen Illinois University.

  • Instructor
    Catherine Rose

    Catherine taught middle and high school English and has a master's degree in Education.

Examine Mr. Van Daan from ‘’The Diary of a Young Girl’’ by Anne Frank. Study Van Daan’s role, review his character traits, and learn about his arrest and death. Updated: 08/04/2022

Table of Contents


Who is Mr. van Daan?

The Diary of Anne Frank is a diary written by Anne Frank. Anne wrote this diary while in hiding during World War II. Anne, along with her family, hid in an annex above her father's company with Mr. and Mrs. van Daan, Peter, and Alfred Dussel. An annex is a small addition to a space. In this case, the annex is above Otto Frank's office space. Mr. van Daan's surname was a pseudonym for the van Daan family's actual names, which were Hermann van Pels, Auguste van Pels, and Peter van Pels. As he is a resident in the annex, Mr. van Daan is one of the characters Anne Frank writes about in her diary.

Anne Frank writes about the argumentative nature of Mr. van Daan.

Photo of Anne Frank

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  • 0:03 A Typical Teenager
  • 0:46 A Man in Hiding
  • 1:52 Strain on the Family
  • 2:25 Tragic Ending
  • 2:38 Lesson Summary
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Analysis of Mr. van Daan

Mr. van Daan and Anne do not get along with one another. Anne states that they "are always at loggerheads with each other," meaning that they struggle to get along with one another at all. Seeing as these two could not be further apart in their personalities, the reader immediately sees that this will become a persistent problem throughout the novel. However, their relationship is not all bad because, as Anne points out, "Mr. van Daan has been as nice as pie to me recently." This is important because it is a noticeable departure from the way they normally act toward one another.

Before bringing his family to the annex, Mr. van Daan worked for Otto Frank, Anne's father, as a meat seasoning specialist. Having spent his career around meats, herbs, and butcher equipment, his role inside the annex also falls within this purview. Anne and the rest of the annex appreciate his talents because, as Anne puts it, "He was hired for his knowledge of spices, and yet, to our great delight, it is his sausage talents that have come in handy now." However, while Anne appreciates Mr. van Daan for the work he does to organize the food for them, she still struggles to see eye to eye with him, and she's far from the only one.

Mr. van Daan worked as a meat seasoning specialist for Otto Frank before going into hiding in the annex.

Photo of seasonings

In fact, one cannot examine Mr. van Daan without also examining Mrs. van Daan's character traits. The van Daans do not have an easy-going relationship like Anne's parents. Anne points this out several times, showing that Mr. van Daan is quite argumentative toward his wife, as they constantly yell and bicker. In one such situation, she explains that "Mr. and Mrs. van Daan have had a terrible fight. I've never seen anything like it since Mother and Father wouldn't dream of shouting at each other like that." She compares these parents directly to her own because she is a child and knows her own parents' relationship best.

This argumentative environment is quite exhausting and disturbing to Anne. One of their more heated arguments came after Mr. van Daan sold Mrs. van Daan's fur coat. Anne was bewildered at what unfolded: "You can't imagine the screaming, shouting, stamping of feet and swearing that went on. It was terrifying. My family stood holding its breath at the bottom of the stairs, in case it might be necessary to drag them apart." Obviously, Mr. van Daan greatly hurt Mrs. van Daan when he decided to sell the coat right from under her nose.

Unfortunately, Mr. van Daan also had a strained and unkind relationship with his son. Since Peter is, as Anne describes him, "peace-loving, tolerant and extremely easygoing," he is in every way the opposite of his father, who is argumentative, easily frustrated, and intolerant.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What did Mr. Van Daan do for Mr. Frank?

Mr. Van Daan worked with Otto Frank before they went into hiding. He worked with Mr. Frank as a meat seasoning specialist.

What happened to Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan?

Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan both died in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. In fact, the only person to survive the concentration camps was Otto Frank.

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