The focus of our trip was going to see the building where Anne Frank and her family hid for 2 1/2 years from the Nazi's. I've read The Diary of Anne Frank every year since I was about 9. Blair had read it too, but it had been so long that he reread it on our plane ride to Amsterdam.
The first thing that jumped out to me is how nondescript the building is. Were it not for the line of tourists circling the block for tickets, you'd never think to give it a second glance. (Click on photos for larger images)
Being there was like walking on holy ground for me. Just staring at the (drab) wallpaper and thinking, "She stood here," or going into the washroom and realizing, "This is where she brushed her teeth and combed her hair and stared into the mirror" was overwhelming. A few highlights:
- The stairs behind the bookcase leading to The Secret Annexe are extremely narrow and unbelievably steep.
- I was most touched by a growth chart on the wall in Anne's parents bedroom where they marked in pencil the height of Anne and her sister Margot during their time spent in hiding. It's such a normal thing to do and stands out in marked contrast to the very non-normal circumstances the family found themselves in.
- Anne's bedroom she shared with the dentist is much more narrow than I would have thought. Almost impossible to visualize 2 beds and a desk fitting in there...
- The main kitchen/living room (also the Van Daans bedroom) was MUCH SMALLER than I expected. I'd always pictured it as a room where those hiding could somewhat spread out, with the kitchen being almost a separate area. Uh-uh. Very tight and condensed with the sink almost in the middle of everything.
- There was a board game of Peter's on display in his room that Anne made mention he'd received for a birthday present. It looked almost new.
The rooms were all empty. After hauling the family away, the Nazi's emptied the Annex, giving all the furniture to German families. Anne's father, Otto Frank, preferred the space be left empty, as the Nazi's left it. However, there is a wonderful downstairs display that shows the placement of all the furniture.
There were videos of Miep, Otto Frank, and Lies (Anne's best friend who met up with Anne in the concentration camps). The original diary (!!!) is on display and overall I was highly impressed with the museum. Simple, stark, doesn't try to be too much because just what it represents is already so big. I'm thrilled to have been able to tour this part of history.