Visit the house where the young Jewish girl, Anne Frank, hid together with her family and friends during World War II.
Anne Frank has probably written the most famous and well-read diary of all times. Little did she know all those years ago that her story would go down in history as an authentic testimony of the cruelty against Jews during World War II. The book has been spread worldwide and translated into more than 55 languages.
A Young Girls Thoughts
A few days before her 13th birthday, Anne Frank walked around in the city with her father, Otto Heinrich Frank. In one of the windows on the pavement they came across a red and white autograph book with a small lock. Anne showed it to her father, wanting it. Her wish was granted on her birthday, and she was a happy owner of her very own diary.
She always started with writing ‘Dear Kitty’ and wrote down her thoughts, telling freely things about herself, her family, everyday life and school. She was much like any other 13 year old, writing about grades, friends, boys and the neighbourhood. But as we know, the diary soon was filled with much darker and more serious content too.
It soon came obvious that Anne was not like any other schoolgirl. With an extraordinary writers talent she described one of the darkest periods in European history. Her stories tell a tale about changes in the society and new rules caused by German occupation. She describes closely several aspects around the Nazi laws and legislations towards Jews. All of this took on a new meaning as it was written from a young girls perspective. She wrote about what it was like being obligated to wear a yellow star of David on the coat when in public. And that they weren’t allowed to take the tram any more, or visit the movies, theatres and swimming pools. In fact, they weren’t allowed to do much in public, not even visiting friends to play in their garden.
Years in Hiding
Although Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, she moved with her family to Amsterdam in 1934. Her father got a new job, afraid of what would happen to their family if they stayed after Hitler and NSDAP won the election in 1933.
In May 1940, Germany invaded Holland, and the situation became worse for the Jews. Anne and her sister Margot needed to change school, although most of their friends at school were non-Jewish. The family understood the seriousness of the situation, and decided to go into hiding. Margot was summoned to work in a camp in Germany, and ten days sooner than planned, they had to leave everything behind. Their hiding place were the building behind Otto Frank’s office building, on Prinsengracht 263. They placed a bookshelf in front of the back building entrance. From 6th July - 4th August, 1944 the family managed to hide, together with the Van Pels family and friend Fritz Pfeffer.
The Big Betrayal
Anne had always dreamt about being an author and spent the days writing. The result is, as we know, a very unique work, where we get to know what people went through in intimate detail. Less than a year before the war ended, on the 4th August, 1944, the whole group was discovered and arrested. To this day, no one really knows who ratted them out, as their helpers were all trusted employees of Otto Frank. There has been debate that one out of these three people were responsible: warehouse employee Willem van Maaren, cleaning lady Lena van Bladeren-Hartog or Gestapo Informant Tonny Ahlers.
Who ever it was, the family was deported on the last train from Westerbork to the concentration camp Auschwitz. They were separated and by the time the war ended Otto Frank was the only one still alive. Both Anne and her sister Margot died in the winter of 1945, just month before the liberation, by a typhus epidemic caused by dreadful sanitary conditions.
Anne’s Dream Realised
Otto Frank knew that his daughter had kept a diary, so he went back to retrieve it. He never imagined it to be so thorough and well written. Since his daughter had always wanted to write books, he decided to realise her dreams. The bookwas published, and the young girl’s words went into history as a strong voice about some of the darkest years of our time.
When the war ended, the house in Prinsengracht 263 was left empty. It was actually at risk of being demolished. However, ‘The Diary of a Young Girl. Anne Frank’, created a lot of attention towards the building, leading to its salvation. It was saved and refurbished, and opened to the public as a museum in 1960.
Today, it one of the most important museums in the city. If you want to visit Anne Frank House, make sure you plan ahead and get there early to avoid disappointment. It is extremely popular so be prepared to queue. It is worth waiting for as it is an experience that will stay with you long after your visit.
If you want to know more about this unique story and visit the hiding place of Anne Frank, you can easily do so while staying at Radisson Blu Hotel Amsterdam Airport, Schiphol. It takes less than 30 minutes to drive from the airport to The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.