The Diary Of Anne Frank
Geoff Breton plays Peter van Daan
Geoff Breton plays Peter van Daan, the young man who shared Anne's captivity and with whom she becomes romantically involved.
Speaking of the character Peter, Geoff says: "It'd seemed to me that in the diaries, (as that's all we had to go on), Peter van Daan was a very remote boy. An only child with over-bearing parents ever increasing his adolescent-approaching mind to seek escape inside himself. Making him shy, clueless how to expressive himself or behave around people.
"The unimaginable boredom of living inside the annexe with none of his (I imagine) very few friends pushed him for the first time into a creative frame of mind.
"He became very active in hiding, expanding his initiative, seeing what he could help with or build for the house. He was very handy at fixing things and constructing household objects, very self-contained quiet activities.
"His father and Otto entrusted Peter with responsibilities and duties, collecting bread, opening the doors for deliveries from helpers or locking up downstairs at night. I believe Peter responded to these new responsibilities with a huge desire to prove his worthiness of their trust. To show he was a good, strong, dependable man in the making.
"Peter grew up in the annex – as did Anne, of course, in different ways. However unlike Anne I feel Peter didn't regret having to spend his youth locked up. I don't imagine he felt the time was a waste.
"Of course he'd rather there was no war and he could be free but he knew it was safer in there than out and strongly believed he wouldn't be in there for ever.
"I think he recognised the major need for him to become a strong man as soon as possible to help and support his aging parents and assist Otto in his leadership. This I derived from reports of Peter and Otto later being in the concentration camp and Peter seeing his father being taken away in a truck with many other older men, hours later only their clothes returning on the same truck.
"Apparently, Peter accepted this fate so bravely and he and Otto stayed resilient right up to the end of the war, Peter sadly dying eventually on a 'death march' searching for help having left the deserted concentration camps. Attempting to find help to return to Otto at the camp with – or perhaps find word of the fate of his mother – or Otto's wife and daughters.
"Seeing what a brave responsible and strong young man he became informed how I believe he behaved and grew in the annexe. Also, during this time, Peter fell in love with Anne. She lost interest in that love almost as soon as it began and Peter, sensitive and gentle, was greatly hurt.
"Peter, curious and sensitive was quite easy prey for her. They began to confide in each other, a great release for them both being able to express their frustrations of having no food, no other people, no way of going outside, no proper amount of fresh air, no one else apart from each other understanding them.
"Quite naturally this inspired physical confiding, first kisses but after that Anne's curiosity with Peter was exhausted. She'd confided in him as fully as possible and he had nothing else to give her in her opinion. He was happy to carry on kissing and hanging out romantically discussing their future together, post annexe, but it wasn't to be for Anne who, inexperienced in such matters insensitively pushed him away. He quite quickly understood that she no longer felt as she had he did and he felt spurned and confused by her sudden coldness.
"This too, I believe, built up his protection strengthening him. He recovered from his heartache caused by Anne's flippantness eventually – before leaving the annexe becoming close again to and accepting of her.
"Peter entered the house an awkward, shy boy and left a brave young man. Of course, the eventual outcome of their being discovered in hiding was a horrendous tragedy but in a way, his time in the annex was the making of him.
"I have never visited a concentration camp but, if I ever have the opportunity, I will – everyone should witness them, though, in another way I really don't want to see one as being there would be an extremely harrowing experience. I find the images of scenes at camps near mentally impossible.
"The older one gets the stronger, such sights and events affect you, appal and terrify and stun you. How the Nazis allowed themselves to inflict such suffering, torture and murder on fellow human beings will forever escape us. It's so impossible to understand.
"The story of Anne Frank is a true example of incredible human survival and I believe that is why it will continually fascinate and inspire people of all ages and races for man, many years to come."