Inside The Anne Frank House.
Amsterdam, the European city known exclusively for it’s Red Light District of window girls in glowing lingerie and it’s legalized marijuana and green cafes. In fact, Amsterdam is a beautiful city with much more to offer for those looking for something other than sex and drugs. Despite the city’s beautiful canals and artistic squares, Amsterdam has a harrowing past. As a result of the Holocaust, about 80% of the Jewish population was murdered. Those that survived were often living their lives in fear, hiding in many non-Jewish homes. The Frank family, along with the van Pels family who shared the Secret Annex with the Franks, are just two of many families in hiding during that time. Located alongside one of the city’s many canals is the building where Anne Frank and her family hid for two years. This building has now been turned into one of the most popular tourist attractions in Amsterdam: The Anne Frank Museum.
As I have always been interested in the Holocaust, a tour of the Anne Frank House was at the top of my list when visiting Amsterdam. After waiting in a line that ran from the entrance of the house to the corner of the street and then down the connecting street, it was finally time to go inside. It is reassuring to know that when the Anne Frank House was reconstructed, as it was close to being demolished, it was reconstructed as close as possible to what it was like before and during the war. Touring the Anne Frank House is one of the most profound experiences I have ever had. Although the museum is filled with tourists, nobody speaks a word. Instead, there is a respectful silence all throughout the self guided tour as people are struck with the intensity of simply being there. Before walking up the stairs that lead to the bookcase, photos of Anne line the walls along with quotes from her diary. Part of the museum provides visitors with an educational experience through the use of original writings from Anne herself as well as facts of World War 2.
My favorite part of the tour was, of course, walking through the door behind the bookcase.Walking up the narrow staircase that is often mentioned in Anne’s diary is emotional in itself, but there is no feeling like the feeling you get when you walk into the rooms that those eight people once lived. As you move through the house you see little things that made up a family. Small horizontal lines scale up one of the walls, indicating the height of the children as they aged. In Anne’s room, the wall is plastered with pictures of celebrities that she admired; a typical young girl’s bedroom. As you move into the bathroom you can see the sink, somewhat rusted over the years, the mirror that they all looked into each day. Being in those rooms, touching the things that they had touched so many years ago and seeing the remnants of a hidden life is overwhelming, to say the least. Once the tour is over, visitors are able to spend time in the bookshop that contains hundreds of copies of Anne’s diary, books about Anne’s time in the concentration camps(written through interviews of women who knew Anne in the camps) and various other books, all in multiple languages.
As of 2012, the admission fee for touring the Anne Frank House is being raised from euro 8,50 to euro 9,- for adults, which is not much of a raise. For anyone who is or ever was interested in the Holocaust or in Anne Frank and her diary, I strongly suggest taking a tour of the Anne Frank House if you are ever in Amsterdam. I have no doubts that it will be a profoundly inspiring experience for you, just as it was for me. The Holocaust developed due to extreme racism and I urge you to be strong enough to stand up against any form of racism that you encounter in your life, no matter how small the comment. All human beings are equal human beings. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, or your hair. It doesn’t matter who you love, what language you speak, or where you come from. We all feel the same feelings and we are all a part of someone else’s family. So please, show respect and love to everyone in your life.
“We cannot change what happened anymore.
The only thing we can do is to learn from the past and to realize
what discrimination and persecution of innocent people means.
I believe that it’s everyone’s responsibility to fight prejudice.”
-Otto Frank, 1970