One of the most visited places in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House which is located in the city centre, at Prinsengracht 263. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl, born in Frankfurt in 1929. Due to high numbers of unemployment and poverty in Germany, as well as Adolf Hitler who hated the Jews and blamed them for the problems in the country, Anne’s parents decided to move to Amsterdam. During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, back in 1942, Anne Frank was hiding with her family and friends in a secret annex.
The secret annex and the diary of Anne Frank
The doorway to the annex was concealed behind a moveable bookcase constructed especially for this purpose. The office personnel knew of the hiding place and helped the eight people by supplying them with food and news of the outside world.
On 28 March 1944, the people hiding in the Secret Annex heard an appeal on the radio from Dutch minister Bolkestein, who had fled to London because of the war. He asked the Dutch to hang on to important documents so that after the war it would be clear what they all had experienced during the German occupation. Inspired by those words, Anne planned to publish a book after the war about her time in hiding. During these two years, Anne wrote about events in the Secret Annex, but also about her feelings and thoughts on it.
However, on August 4th, 1944, the people hiding in the annex were discovered. They were sent to Auschwitz concentration camp and a few weeks later Anne and her sister Margot were relocated to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. There, they died of typhus in March 1945.
Anne’s father, Otto, was the only person from the annex who survived the concentration camps. As he came back to the Netherlands, he found out that none of his family members were still alive. Her father was deeply impressed by Anne’s diary. He read that Anne wanted to be a writer or a journalist and that she wanted to publish her stories about life in the Secret Annex. In June 1947 he decided to publish his daughter’s diary. The book is now translated into 70 languages and adapted for stage and screen.
How the Anne Frank House became a museum
Shortly after the book was published, visitors were shown around by the employees who had hidden the families and could see the secret rooms. People all over the world were introduced to Anne’s story, and in 1960 the hiding place became a museum: the Anne Frank House. The Anne Frank House originally opened on 3 May 1960 and over the years attracted a growing number of visitors keen to experience the diary’s location. In the most recent years, visitor numbers reached over 1.25 million a year, and long queues are commonly seen outside the museum.
The rooms in the Anne Frank House still portray the atmosphere of the period spent in hiding. Historical documents, photographs, film images and original objects that belonged to those in hiding and those who assisted them help illustrate the events that took place.
You can also take different tours to learn more about Anne Frank and her life. There is even a virtual tour that is very interesting and informative. More than that, you can have a walking tour to see the city from the perspective of Anne Frank during the second world war.
Starting from the Jewish Quarter and ending at the Anne Frank House, this two-hour tour gives an exciting and in-depth perspective on what Anne Frank and others had to go through during these difficult times.