Anne Frank is one of the millions of victims of the Nazi persecution of the Jews during WWII. She was a teenage girl full of dreams and aspirations, which makes a visit to her last hiding place a thought provoking experience. People line up around the block to see this house and take photos of the plaque at the entrance as a keepsake and reminder of their visit to a place which continues to be a pilgrimage site for many.
As soon as you walk behind the false bookshelf and enter the “Hiding Annex” the horror of what they experienced begins to sink in.
Even now, I remember the silence as every visitor walked silently, single-file up steep narrow stairs and through the unimaginably small living spaces, not a word spoken, but a few sniffles, a little nose-wiping, and damp cheeks made it clear that everybody was affected even though everyone was trying to appear as if they weren’t.
Knowing that they spent their days quiet as mice and sealed in with the windows shuttered, as you peek up through the attic trap-door to the rooftop, it is easy to understand how Anne and her young friend and co-refugee, Peter, would have loved to escape to the attic to breath fresh air, see the night sky and dream of their lives after the war. Lives they would never have.
When you leave the actual hiding place and emerge back into the museum proper, the display of Anne’s diary pages and later re-writes are fascinating. There are three versions of her diary and all are on display.
Version B was started by Anne when she hears a request on Radio Oranje for diaries and other writings made during the occupation to be kept. She wanted them to be published after the war.
Version C was created by Anne’s father Otto Frank. After Anne and the other people in hiding were arrested, those who were helping to hide the Franks, collected all that they could find of Anne’s writings. When it was clear that Anne’s father was the only survivor of the extermination camps, he was given his daughter’s writings.
From these, Otto compiled the book ‘The Secret Annex’. It is a combination of passages from Anne’s A and B versions. The book was published in 1947.
Along with the diaries, the museum displays records from the Auschwitz internment/extermination camp, historical information and documentation and film from the Nazi occupation and persecution of Jews in Amsterdam during WWII.
To learn more about the Anne Frank story and the Museum, click HERE (Anne Frank Museum Website)