Elli was a young girl who worked in the office as a typist and was the closest to Anne during the period she was in hiding. She is a gentle, warm, shy person, and although she was eight or nine years older than Anne, she often discussed her personal problems with Anne. Elli also helped Anne and the others both practically and psychologically throughout the period they were in hiding.
Elli has said that Anne was sometimes bad-tempered and nasty, and at those times only her father, to whom she was very close, could bring her to her senses. He did it by saying the magic word, "Self-control!" This caused her to stop whatever it was she was doing and regain her composure.
Elli also spent a night in the "Secret Annexe," sleeping on an air mattress. This was in October 1942, and she claims that she did not sleep a wink that night and almost died of fright. The noises of the night, the bell of the clock tower nearby, and the fear of arrest or an air raid kept her awake all night. The other members of the group slept undisturbed, however.
When the Gestapo came to arrest the group in hiding, Elli became extremely distraught and cried like a little child. She stood at the window, crying and wringing her hands, while the police searched the house. Mr. Koophuis went over to her, gave her his briefcase, and told her to take it to the corner druggist, with a message that his brother would come and pick it up.
Elli made an immense effort to do as she was told and got to the druggist's store. She made up a story about their having been found possessing a radio set (they were illegal under the Nazi regime), and the druggist believed her. He took the briefcase and promised to give it to Mr. Koophuis' brother when he came. Elli then called Mr. Koophuis at the office and asked him what she should do, although she could hardly talk. Mr. Koophuis told her to go home, but she started crying again, and eventually remained with the druggist, crying and praying, for over an hour.
This is Elli's account of the events of that afternoon: "All afternoon I wandered through the city, not knowing where I was going, and did not reach home until dusk. My father was in bed. He had been operated on some time before. But when the doctors saw that he had cancer of the stomach, they could do nothing for him.
"I sat down beside his bed and told him everything. He was deeply attached to Mr. Frank, whom he had known a long time. He said nothing. But then he suddenly asked for his clothing, dressed and went away. When he came back after dark, he said there was nothing to be seen, that the building looked just as it always had. He had peered into the windows for awhile, but everything was deserted and still."