(***the following photos are not mine but postcards I have scanned. I apologize for the poor quality.)
I’ve been to the secret annex twice. I would go again. It’s not a feel good experience. It is sombering and thought provoking, therefore exceedingly vital to knowing what hope looks like amidst human suffering and fear.
The house is a nondescript from the outside. It’s just one brown canal house in the row of many other more interesting places along the Prinsengracht Canal, which is one of the most beautiful and expensive addresses in the city. The only eye catching feature from the street is the long queue snaking from it’s entrance down the path of people waiting for “the experience”.
The first time I went it was squeezed in at the end of a long day in the Kukenhof gardens, so I toured it at the last hour. There were no lines or crowds. I was able to sink deeply into the experience without feeling rushed. So, when I returned with Craig we planned our day to be there for the last hour and a half of it’s opening time. That’s a great strategy if you are planning a trip to Amsterdam.
The museum is intense. First, there’s much video and recordings of the history and circumstances of their day. It’s realistic and allows the visitor to feel as though they are there. It shows interviews with her father, and every detailed bit of photography and artifacts to show what it was like for them to live in the secret annex for so many years.
Then you come to the secret bookcase that hid the stairway to where the jewswere forced to hide from the nazis. We climbed the narrow staircase to see her room just as she left it. The pictures of celebrities on the walls from magazines, and the photos of her and her family as well. It is untouched. We could stand at the window she had to the world beyond and imagine how awful it would be for a young girl to not be allowed fresh air and play. Indeed tears rose to choke our throats as we felt her isolation, and fear. Not one visitor in the secret annex section of the museum uttered a sound. The silence comes from a deep reverence for feeling what this young girl endured….and worse for millions of others.
And yet, here she was writing in her diary with optimism. She imagined her future as a journalist and remained hopeful despite her circumstances of fear for the nazis discovering their hiding before the war ended. Sadly, they were discovered and she was transported brutally to the concentration camps where her hope died before her. The stories of those trying to help her and find her were shared in audio for the guests of the museum. Chilling.
Young Anne is an inspiration. If you haven’t read her diary in a long time may I suggest you pick it up. It will not depress you, it will inspire you to overcome the trivialities of our modern life where we think we have problems. It will give you new eyes to see your own circumstances. Feel the blessings of now as you experience the sorrows of yesterday.
Anne wrote: “think of all the beautiful things around and be happy.”
I did promise to write about my problems involving the police station while I visited Amstrerdam with Craig, well, it is a long story which I have decided to share in full, so I will lay it out for you tomorrow. I hope you enjoyed the inspiration Anne Frank is to all mankind. If you are ever in my home I have the complete book that shows the experience you can have at the museum and I beg you to spend a couple hours in my garden with it.