We waited outside for an hour and a half to get into the Anne Frank House. It was freezing with flurries in the air but we were determined, and I’m glad we stuck it out.
The museum takes visitors through the small factory that Otto Frank owned and operated, up to the offices that he shared with three employees who all helped his family while they hid, and to the two top floors in the back of the building that made the annex or secret hiding place. The rooms hold pictures and other small artifacts of the eight people who lived there for two years but no furniture or large accessories. Pictures show how the rooms were arranged and decorated but Otto, the only person in his family to survive the war, intentionally left the rooms bare to symbolize the emptiness left by so many lives lost in the concentration camps.
In the last room, Anne’s actual diary is on display. After the war, one of Otto’s employees, who had helped the family by bringing them food, presented Otto with his daughter’s diary. He waited until it had been confirmed that Anne had died to read it and then publish it. Also on display in this final room is a notebook she used to write quotes she liked from books and sections of short stories she wrote. No pictures are allowed in any of the rooms, so I’ve tried to preserve a mental image of her diary and her handwriting.
For me, the most emotional part of the experience was a video of Otto talking about how reading his daughter’s diary made him realize that parents never really know their children. While Otto felt quite close to Anne, she, as a teenager, had deep and serious thoughts and a rich emotional life that he was not privy to. What I find so sad about this is that I think he may be right–until a certain age. In my experience, I’ve gotten much closer to my parents as I’ve gotten older. Sadly, Otto never had that opportunity with either of his children.
While I wouldn’t necessarily call this experience fun, it was definitely full and meaningful. I would tell anyone traveling to Amsterdam that it is a must see-just make sure to buy tickets ahead of time online so you don’t have to queue for so long beforehand.
(We found out later that they make a limited number of tickets available online per day. As long as you can buy and print, you can skip the line. Live and learn).