Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Anne Frank House-Amsterdam

     I realize that many of you probably have read the Diary of Anne Frank at some point in your scholastic career, but I hadn't had that chance until after having visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.  My 9th grade English teacher definitely educated us on the Holocaust and exposed us to literature from survivors such as Elie Wiesel's Night and the cartoon account of the Holocaust entitled Maus.  Since living in Germany we had also visited a few concentration camps, so we knew something about this time period.  However, I didn't know much about Anne Frank and her story.  Going into it all I knew was that Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany, hid out in a house in Amsterdam during WWII, and eventually died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  Most of this I only knew from the walking tour in Frankfurt that passes by the Holocaust memorial. 
     While many people will convince you to avoid the Anne Frank House because it is a very popular site and the line can be very long since you have to walk single-file through the tight passageways in the house.  We visited on a Sunday morning in May and found the line to be very reasonable.  I would recommend reading the diary beforehand since the tour basically walks you through each room that you would recognize from the diary.  It's well-preserved and gives you an incredibly realistic idea of life in the annex.  Sorry, no pictures inside the house.

View from the Secret Annex across the street and the canal.

Name plate on the front door to the warehouse.  If you haven't read the diary then I should mention that the "house" is actually an old factory/warehouse where jams and jellies were made.

View of the factory/warehouse from across the canal.  Once Anne Frank's sister Margot was summoned by the SS to report for relocation, the entire family moved into a hidden apartment, or "annex", in the upper portion of the factory.  They stayed there for over two years with another family and a single man without ever leaving until they were "discovered" by the SS and deported to concentration camps in 1944.  Everyone perished except for the father, Otto Frank, who dedicated his life to ensuring the publication of his daughter's diary.

I checked out the diary after visiting the museum.  It is basically the diary of a 13-15 year old girl with lots of details about daily life and inner thoughts and reflection through a difficult circumstance in life.  It was impressive to read through the honest and deep self-reflection that a teenager is capable of.  She had a youthful spirit and an optimistic attitude to survive the war and go on to be an author.  Thanks to her father she was able to be that author posthumously.

If you haven't done so already, I suggest reading the Diary of Anne Frank and/or visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

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