I’m not sure there’s anything more humbling than the tour through Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam. The somber interior is contrasted by it’s plain outside. You can’t help but wonder how such tragedy happened in an area that looks so normal.
We visited Amsterdam almost a year ago now. As an avid historian and enthusiast (although that word sounds horrible using it in this context) of World War Two there wasn’t a second thought to going to the house. I had heard amazing things about it, not in the sense that it entertains you but more that it makes you stop and think, which it did.
Because we traveled during the holiday season we knew we had to get there first thing in the morning on New Years Eve if we wanted to have any chance at getting in. I’ve since been told that people looking for a tour through Anne Frank’s house can only do so by buying tickets online if you want to get in before 2pm. We clearly got lucky.
We arrived an hour before the museum opened and already the lineup was about 60 people deep. By opening, the line when literally around the block and then some. I couldn’t even imagine how long those people waited!
The ticket prices to get into the museum are really quite reasonable; 9 Euro per person. I honestly would have happily paid more to wander through those walls. For anyone that’s read the diary of Anne Frank, you’ll very much appreciate, and understand the meaningfulness behind the rooms.
Because you aren’t allowed to take pictures once you’re inside the museum I was very careful not to follow my instinctual reaction and try to snap a few shots. Everyone wanders through the house in quiet hushed tones out of respect. I’ve been to many historically significant places before but I honestly think this was the first one where everyone I was with was respectful of the space and what had happened in that building. It’s a realistic piece of World War Two that people can’t ignore.
The hallways are narrow and the floors are creaky as the museum takes you from room to room. Each room has its own snippet of information in chronological order of events. There are real artifacts scattered throughout and it really amazed me how many things they were able to salvage after the war.
I couldn’t help but realize and think how normal her life seemed. Her dad had a thriving business, her and her sister were just normal girls before the war. There was nothing extraordinarily different about them. Perhaps, that’s what makes her story so amazing. It could have happened to anyone. Reading the diary you get that sense of normalcy but the museum curators have done an excellent job at emphasizing the fact.
You wander through the halls, up the stairs and finally into the main attraction; the attic. While it was incredible small, I also couldn’t help thinking about how big it seemed. For some reason I pictured the attic to be just one giant room. Some of the items that belonged to the families hiding in the attic at the time are still there and you can see exactly where Anne and her family slept. It sent shivers up my spine.
Everyone knows the story of Anne Frank and even on the tour through Anne Frank’s house you can’t help wishing the story ended differently. Like it was some big ploy and at the end it would say, the book was wrong, she went on to lead a full and happy life. It didn’t. The tour through Anne Frank’s house ends exactly as you would imagine it would but somehow it feels more dramatic. After spending close to 3 hours wandering through the hallways that Anne and her family did, seeing where they slept, where they ate and learning about their lives before the war it feels oddly more personal that just reading the diary.
I left the tour through Anne Frank’s house somber but satisfied. To finally see something in person you have read about time and time again is really quite something.
I wouldn’t recommend bringing young children through the museum as they may not be able to grasp or fully comprehend what it is that they’re seeing. You also don’t want to ruin the tour for someone else with a fussy kid in tow.
If you have the chance to visit and go on the tour through Anne Frank’s house on your next trip to Amsterdam, do yourself a favour and do it. You won’t regret it.