My First Visit to the Anne Frank House
When I read The Diary of Anne Frank as a young girl it was the first book I’d read that didn’t have a happy ending. I remember sitting in shock after turning the last page. This girl, who I had grown to like so much, who had such spirit, never made it. The Nazis killed her. Despite her fathers best efforts she still died. It was a shock to me, being about 9 at the time, I didn’t really know much about World War II.
Ten years later I found myself on a weekend trip to Amsterdam. The Anne Frank House was at the top of my list of things to see. When I arrived I noticed on the outside the house looked like the other canal houses in Amsterdam. However when it was time to walk through the door, hidden behind the bookcase, and go into the secret annex I felt a shiver go up my arms. I was touched deeply to see the rooms in which Anne and her family spent those 2 years. Imagining what it must have been like to never be able to go out and never know when it would end. Wandering around the rooms thinking of the two families staying quiet all day in the confines of the Annex while trying to keep on good terms with each other with never any space for oneself.
My Second Visit
More years have passed and finding myself in Amsterdam again I had to go back. I learned on the web site you could book a time slot in advance. I didn’t because I was there in December the first time and there were no lines. However, I miss judged how popular the Anne Frank House has become, and the difference it would make being there over the holidays. The line started at the door to the museum, went down the street, then crossed over the road and down until the next corner, a full 2 blocks long. In the end I went back the next day (NYE) hoping it would be a bit shorter (it was a bit). If you don’t prebook expect to wait 45 minutes to an hour to get in.
My first visit was also different in that it was, for a good part of the visit , only myself and my friends inside the Annex, so it was easier to really get a feeling for the space. This time around being much busier it was crowded inside the Annex. However the museum is well set up to handle the large numbers. As you make your way through the museum there are various movies, photos and displays that keep the crowds moving along at an even space. The Anne Frank House has grown to include the building next to it using the space for more exhibits, which were much more extensive than what was on display my first visit. They include videos of the helpers, Anne’s father (who was the only one from the Annex to survive) as well as parts of Anne’s diaries and writing on display (if only I could read Dutch).
I am glad I experienced the Anne Frank House as the simplified quieter experience, as well I’m pleased to have been fortune enough to go back and be reminded of how much this young girl moved me and was part of my growing up. I am also happy to see that people from far and wide are still being moved by the story of Anne Frank and the secret Annex, it’s a story that should never be forgotten.