Fascinating, but sad. Two very contrasting word yet it is what the Anne Frank Huis / House is about. For a while now, I have been figuring out how to write this piece of article, as my experience in Anne Frank Huis had been a little daunting, and while I do write fairly decently (as I’d like to believe), what I am afraid of is how this article may not give it the credit it is due.
The facade of Anne Frank Huis / House is rather nondescript and if not for the long queue outside, I probably would not even give it a second glance. However, having read the book, and as I stood in line with many others, my heart beat in anticipation.
The line was a really long one, and while waiting for our turn, I took the opportunity to clue my husband in on the history behind what we are about to see and experience.
The Story in Brief
During the Second World War, Anne Frank, her family and a few other close friends, who were all Jews, went into hiding to escape the Nazis. They were hidden in a secret Annex at Prinsengracht in Amsterdam and while hiding, Anne Frank kept a diary in which she depicts life within that small space for two years.
All of them were betrayed and subsequently captured, and was sent on the last transport to Auschwitz concentration camp. Anne died while in the concentration camp and only Otto Frank, Anne’s dad, reportedly survived out of all that was captured.
The secret annex was subsequently turned into a museum, and Anne’s diary, published to be the amazing book it is today.
Inside the Anne Frank House
Upon entering, you will walk through part of the building that was the location for the original business. Now, they are decorated with excerpts from the diary, memorabilia and photographs of those who helped keep everyone safe during the war.
Then – you come to THE bookcase.
“Now our Secret Annex has truly become secret. Because so many houses are being searched for hidden bicycles, Mr. Kugler thought it would be better to have a bookcase built in front of the entrance to our hiding place. It swings out on its hinges and opens like a door.” – Anne Frank, August 21st 1942.
This bookcase, that looks ordinary, was the one that hid the entrance to the secret annex and protected 8 Jews for 2 years.
That was when it finally hit me.. There I was, reading the book a few months back, and here I am, a few months later, actually walking through the actual place and reliving some of Anne’s journal entries – word by word.
Excerpts from Diary of Anne Frank
- The low hanging door frame.
“After the first three days we were all walking around with bumps on our foreheads from banging our heads against the low doorway. Then Peter cushioned it by nailing a towel stuffed with wood shavings to the doorframe. Let’s see if it helps!” Anne Frank, August 21st 1942.
- Margot and Anne’s growth line on the wall
- The attic where Anne spent most of her time with Peter and found some happiness while in hiding.
“Nearly every morning I go to the attic where Peter works to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs. From my favourite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind.” Anne Frank, February 23rd 1944.
Different kinds of emotion welled up within me and I am sure I wasn’t the only one as the mood within the Anne Frank House was somber and silent. On more than one occasion, I choked back my tears in imagining the pain and difficulties these 8 people have gone through, to hide their very own existence, all because they were born Jewish.
The rest of the Anne Frank Huis
The rest of the house were turned into a museum where stories and pictures of the raid and what happens after the capture were shown. It then leads into a small room where actual diaries of Anne, along with some of her other writings were shared within glass showcases.
No pictures allowed
No photos were allowed to be taken inside the house and within the museum in order to preserve everything and it is definitely something that one must see and experience for themselves.
In all honesty, it was an incredibly moving experience for me and i would highly recommend Anne Frank House as one of the must-dos in Amsterdam.
Have you been to Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam? How was it like for you?