When I traveled to Amsterdam in April, I knew my time there would be brief. Less than 36 hours brief. Factoring in that I had no idea what to expect from my first overseas trip and that jet lag is rough…way too brief!
Anne Frank House.
But the one place that I wanted to be sure to visit was the Anne Frank House.
In fact, this museum was the only thing specifically booked into our itinerary (outside of hotels, flights, and the train from Amsterdam to Paris) when we left the U.S.
I had heard that the cues can get very long at the Anne Frank House and our limited time left no room for long cues. If I were to see it, it must be booked. However, when you hear to book your tickets well in advance…do so. When I first went to book them (three weeks early), they were already sold out. It was then that I discovered that the tickets are released two months in advance. I was so disappointed.
There are tickets that include a 30 minute introduction. These tickets are released two weeks in advance. I was overjoyed that I was able to secure these tickets.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. -Anne Frank
Our hotel was located on P.C. Hooftstraat near Vondelpark. The night before we debated on walking, but were concerned that there may be rain so we chose to take a nearby tram to Dam Square and walk the remaining way to the Anne Frank House, which is on Prinsengracht.
The museum is open 7 days a week, year round, except Yom Kippur. From 9am-3:30pm, only advanced purchase ticket holders with a time slot are admitted. After 3:30, the cue begins. The closing time varies depending on the time of year, but you can check the hours at their website.
The prices for standard entry are 9€ for adults, 4.50€ for ages 10-17 and free for ages 0-9. With the added 30 minute introductory session the entry fee is 14€ for adults, 9.50€ for ages 10-17 and 5€ for ages 0-9.
We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same. -Anne Frank
The 30 minute introductory session gives the life story of Anne Frank in the context of the Second World War and the Holocaust. It also gives an overview of the museum prior to touring it. There is no photography allowed in the museum so I was surprised at the end of the introduction when we were allowed to take photos of the items in the room where the presentation is held.
You can see that the story of Anne Frank is explained along the timeline above and the corresponding things happening under Hitler are shown along the bottom of the timeline. For my teenagers, most of this information was exactly what they were studying in history class. For me, it has been many years since I’ve had history classes and history was one of my weaker subjects.
No one has ever become poor by giving. -Anne Frank
I found the introductory session to be highly informative and am glad that the other tickets weren’t available so that this became my option.
Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is! -Anne Frank.
I was born well after this time period so there will always be some level that I don’t understand, just as those born here in the U.S. who were babies or not yet born don’t have the same understanding and experience of 9/11 as mine.
For me, the time spent hearing this story prepared me for what lay ahead.
The deep sense of this horrific reality.
Nothing I write will fully convey the history as I am no history expert, but I hope to be able to bring you along as I journey through the museum.
One caution I would give is to know your level of claustrophobia. We discovered that two of our teenagers are claustrophobic. Theirs was more about being in crowded spaces. My claustrophobia has to with lack of access to fresh air and I felt fine through most of it.
I don’t think of all of the misery, but of all the beauty that remains. -Anne Frank
The Jewish began to have to wear these stars as a way of distinguishing them from the Nazis.
Whoever is happy will make others happy too. -Anne Frank
Their passports were stamped with a “J” to point out the fact that they were Jewish.
Jewish people could no longer own businesses so Otto Frank appoints his Dutch colleagues as the business owners and runs the business behind the scenes.
In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit. -Anne Frank
When they receive a letter about what Margot will need to pack for a camp, they know that they will need to go into hiding.
You can always give something, even if it is only kindness. -Anne Frank
The secret annex.
If you are familiar with the story, then you know that they lived in the secret annex behind the bookcase. Since it was a secret area attached to the business, they had to be extremely quiet during the day lest anyone should hear them.
We would travel up a set of wooden stairs.
We would travel through some of rooms of the office building…
And then we would pass through the open bookcase.
The air in this space had a palpable feeling being separate.
You could sense what it would be like to try to have lived in this space. The quiet hush of the crowds as they walked along reading the plaques and looking at the items. Each footstep amplified by the wooden space and lack of voices to drown out any other noises.
How their hearts must have pounded in their ears if a chair accidentally scraped across the floor or somebody set a plate down a little too roughly.
Did they hold their breath when they heard the house settling in the night?
While in bed at night, did they cry silent tears in order to put on a brave face again the next day?
All these thoughts and more raced through my head as I wondered from room to room.
I have been a thirteen year old girl.
Miss Sunshine is now a thirteen year old girl.
And so I find that I place myself in Anne’s shoes (as I often do with the main character when I read a story).
I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. -Anne Frank
But on the other side of the viewing platform was this commentary from the hubby.
“The museum was so powerful. I can’t imagine how Otto must have felt. To be a father, the protector of the family, and be doing everything he could to keep his family safe and have the world keep closing in on them until they were caught and sent away to die.”
And then I see it through the lens of his eye.
And then I step in their mother’s shoes. The role of mothering teenagers is a role that I am becoming well versed in.
Parents can only give them good advice, or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands. -Anne Frank
But it was not just Anne Frank.
We were reminded that Margot also had a diary, but that it was never found.
Everyone had a story to tell and not just in this home.
This is just a tiny glimpse into what was happening. The systematic persecution and execution of an estimated six million Jews.
I walk from room to room. I read the words. I sense their fear.
I watch videos and hear the words of survivors.
I feel their pain for all those that they have lost.
I understand a little more than I did the day before.
I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these all can help you. -Anne Frank
From here, we would walk to Oude Kerk. If you’ve read my post about that then you know it was a day packed with enlightment.
But in those moments after stepping outside of the Anne Frank House, before we began the next part of our journey, I looked across the canal at this vibrant city, and it was hard to believe that such horrific atrocities had taken place here.
But they did.
Let your light shine!