On my first day in Europe, the first thing my tour group did was grab our luggage, load the bus, and head to the Anne Frank Museum. I mean who needs sleep or adjustment time anyway?
The Anne Frank Museum constitutes the actual house the Frank family lived in before and during the Nazi takeover of the Netherlands. Millions of people have read The Diary of a Young Girl by the young Jewess, Anne Frank (including myself) but personally walking through the house brings the feeling to life. The spaces are so tight I can barely imagine a family of four living in the secret area, let alone the eight occupants that lived there. Not only were the Frank, van Pels, and Pfeffer families crowded, but they had to be silent all day and night. For they were in hiding from the Nazis who wanted to send them to concentration camps. If they made a noise, their lives could very well be over…
To take a 3-D tour of the house click here.
Just over two years (July 1942- August 1944) constitutes the length of the time in the secret annex. But through all these times of trouble, Anne’s diary entries remain full of inspirational hope, insight, and astounding prose for a young teenager. Numerous quotes from her diary are scattered throughout the house, along with artifacts, videos, and if I remember correctly, footage of Otto Frank (Anne’s father) talking about his life during these times.
After the war, Anne’s father Otto Frank moves out of the house. This empty house was almost demolished, until Otto publishes Anne’s diary in 1947 and the book’s success skyrockets. It draws attention to the house, which is then restored and opened to the public in 1960. Today it is a popular spot for those who live in Amsterdam and tourists alike. As shown in the second photo above, there are long lines for people waiting to see the house. There is no photography allowed in the annex (well unless you are Ansel Elgort or Shaliene Woodley from The Fault in Our Stars), which I believe helps visitors focus on the history; not worry about taking photos to remember everything one saw.
A few quotes from The Diary of a Young Girl that have stuck with me:
- “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
- “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
- “Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.
- “Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
Stories of the Holocaust, such as Anne Frank and her family’s story, remind me to never let myself swayed by the honeyed promises of politicians who promote intolerance and hate.
For a more in-depth look at Anne Frank’s life: http://www.biography.com/people/anne-frank-9300892#nazi-occupation
All rights reserved of Anne Frank documents to the Anne Frank Fonds foundation.