Courtesy Anne Frank Museum
Anne Frank’s story
On my final day in Amsterdam, I walked to the Anne Frank House, which is one of the city’s most important historic structures. The world knows Anne Frank from the famous diary she wrote while her Jewish family was hiding from the Nazis in the early 1940s.
In 1940, Anne Frank’s father, Otto, moved his family to Amsterdam from Germany to escape Adolph Hitler’s Nazi regime. But by 1942, the Nazis had taken over the Netherlands in a five-day blitz and had begun rounding up Jews in Amsterdam and sending them off to concentration camps.
Four employees of Otto Frank helped conceal the Frank family and four other Jews in a secret apartment behind the warehouse and offices where Otto worked. The group managed to stay sequestered for nearly two years, and Anne, a 15-year-old girl, kept detailed diaries about the family’s time in hiding.
Unfortunately, the “Secret Annex” was eventually found and the Franks sent off to Auschwitz. Of the eight people hidden in the house, only Otto Frank survived.
After Anne’s diaries were published and became popular, Otto established a museum at the former warehouse, where today, people can walk through the hiding place and learn about Anne’s life there.
When I toured the house, it was packed with visitors. We saw the small rooms where the families were forced to spend their days behind blackout curtains without ever peering out into the streets below. In video exhibits throughout the museum, friends and contemporaries of the Frank family tell stories about Otto, Anne and surviving the Nazi regime.
Back on the street, a flurry of thoughts filled my mind as I left the museum; visiting places like that is important, though not always easy. But the melancholy did not last long. Sunshine and beautiful surroundings help clear the mind and soothe the soul, and I found plenty of both while walking in Amsterdam.