Visiting the Anne Frank Huis
Since I have been back in the states for a few weeks I’ve had the chance to reflect on my long-awaited visit to the Anne Frank House. I had actually planned to visit the previous summer while in Amsterdam, but I found the 4 hour line slightly too time consuming for a two day trip in Amsterdam. Not visiting the house turned out to be one of the biggest disappointments from my summer in Europe (there weren’t many). Growing up I had always been infatuated with studying World War II and the Holocaust specifically. So, of course the Diary of Anne Frank was one of the first holocaust memoirs I ever read. Since then I’ve read countless memoirs, but one never forgets such an influential story.
I got in line around 5:00pm and was pleasantly surprised to find that the wait time was only an hour. While I was standing in line I started looking around and listening to all the different languages being spoken and it hit me just how much of an impact the Diary of Anne Frank has made on this world. It was incredibly humbling standing there during the year 2014, using the free WIFI available while you wait, trying to imagine the fear and anxiety Anne, her family, and their friends must have experienced while hoping and praying they wouldn’t be discovered. When my turn finally came I paid the 9 euro entrance fee, grabbed my english informational pamphlet, and headed in to begin an unforgettable tour. (I want to take a second to suggest visiting a place like the Anne Frank House alone or separating from your group during the visit. I have found in the past during visits to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, and now the Anne Frank House that your time can be very overwhelming and heavy and being alone really gives you the chance to take it all in.)
Pictures are not allowed once inside out of respect for everyone visiting, but they aren’t necessary anyway. Visiting a place like the Anne Frank House imprints on your mind forever. Walking past the original bookcase used to conceal the Secret Annexe and seeing original pictures Anne had hung up in her room to “liven up” the place was incredibly surreal. I’m staring at these things trying to imagine Anne herself standing where I was standing hanging the pictures up. How would I have handled a situation like this? What would my thoughts have been? Anne had surprisingly mature thoughts and opinions on what her family was experiencing for her age and they were displayed throughout the tour to give you an impression of who this magnificent girl was. “In spite of everything I still believe that people are good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death.” To read something like that and realize that Anne was only 16 years old when she died at Auschwitz is crazy. She was an incredible human being and her dreams of becoming a writer one day have been realized through the 30 million copies of her diary circulating the globe today. I can’t say enough about my experience at the Anne Frank House, but it’s definitely something every individual should experience for themselves.
If you ever have the chance to visit Amsterdam put the Anne Frank House at the top of your list. To avoid waiting in a 4 hour line there or at any other main tourist attractions in Amsterdam wake up early and visit that place first. If you wait until the afternoon you will be lucky to find only an hour wait at the Anne Frank House. You can also schedule a tour time in advance, but tickets are limited so I would plan ahead!