When I traveled, along with my husband and our three teenagers, to Amsterdam in April, I knew our 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! But the one place that I wanted to be sure to visit was the Anne Frank House.
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 to visit the Anne Frank House are released two months in advance.
I was so disappointed.
There are some tickets that include a 30-minute introduction, which takes you through the history of Anne Frank in the context of the Second World War and the persecution of the Jews (note: this is the description given on the Anne Frank House website).
These tickets are released two weeks in advance. The day of their release, I refreshed and refreshed the page until they were online for sale (I needed 5 tickets!!). I was overjoyed that I was able to secure these tickets.
(update: according to the Anne Frank House website, as of this post’s update on January 2019, all tickets must now be purchased online. 80% of the tickets are released two months in advance and the remaining 20% of the tickets are for sale on the website on the day of visit at 9:00 am.)
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.
Their operating hours are:
1 November-1 April daily from 9:00-19:00
and Saturdays 9:00-22:00
1 April-1 November daily from 9:00-22:00.
There are some exceptions to these hours which can be found at the Anne Frank House website.
The prices for standard entry are 10€ for adults, 5€ for ages 10-17 and free for ages 0-9 plus a €0,50 booking fee per ticket.
With the added 30-minute introductory session the entry fee is 15€ for adults and 10€ for ages 10-17. The introductory program is suitable for ages 10+ (prices updated to reflect 2019 prices).
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 while I was familiar with the overarching eleme nts, 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. The spaces are not small but we discovered that two of our teenagers are claustrophobic. Theirs was more about being in crowded spaces.
There are many people touring and the farther into the museum you go, the more compact and pressed together that it becomes before finally opening up again. My claustrophobia has to do 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
A “J”, to point out the fact that they were Jewish, was stamped onto their passports.
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 the annex 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 the rooms in the office building…
And then we would pass through the open bookcase.
The air in this space had a palpable feeling of 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 my husband.
“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.
And I find it hard to breathe.
My heart aching so deeply.
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.
As we were reminded, Margot also had a diary 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 enlightenment.
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!