Sometimes it’s fascinating, sometimes it’s eye opening and sometimes it’s sad.
The Anne Frank House is all of these things. I’ve never planned a visit somewhere with only one initial reason in mind, but visiting the hiding place of Otto Frank and his family during The Holocaust was the basis behind adding Amsterdam to my 2021 Eurotrip itinerary.
I may also have been slightly influenced by the movie “The Fault in our Stars”… haha oops. But seriously, who has watched that movie and not wanted to visit Amsterdam?
Now, I’m going to pass onto you, dear reader, the same piece of advice that was given to me to make your visit uber smooth. BOOK YOUR TICKET ONLINE. Don’t wait until the few days/weeks prior to your trip, because tickets will sell out 1-2 months in advance.
The reason for this is simple:
The advance tickets get you straight in. There’s a separate entry for people with pre-paid tickets, meaning you get to bypass the line that sometimes circles around two city blocks. Tickets are €14 for adults.
I arrived, went in, spent an age slowly exploring the house and museum, used the bathroom, got postcards and had a snack in the cafe before I left – and people who had been at the end of the line were only about halfway to the door.
Things you should know
The next thing you need to know is that there is no photography allowed inside; don’t try to be sneaky and snap selfies, because a) it’s disrespectful, b) there are cctv camera’s in every room and you’ll probably be asked to leave and c) you can negatively effect the efforts to preserve important documents, like the diary.
The Anne Frank House is an emotional experience for almost everyone on some level. Some have relatives that were victims of the war, some have relatives that were Nazi’s. You can’t know anybody else’s story just be looking at them, so please be respectful in this place and follow the rules.
The photo’s in this post, save for one, are taken from and credited to multiple websites, because I didn’t send in my application for photography permission before arriving and left with only a picture of the outside door.
We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same. – Anne Frank
Anne Frank History
As for the actual visit, it’s hard to put into words. Most people have at least heard of Anne Frank and know some, if not all, of her story thanks to her diary being published in over 60 languages.
If you don’t know the story, you will learn it quickly as you walk through the house.
Otto Frank, his wife Edith, their two daughters Margot and Anne, as well as 4 other Jews went into hiding in the secret annex of this house during World War II. They hid there for 2 years until a still unknown informer tipped off the SS and the group was arrested and sent on what happened to be the last transport to Auschwitz.
Miep Gies, a friend that had been helping the group while they hid, returned to the annex and recovered Anne Frank’s diaries and notes along with some photo’s. Out of the group, only Otto Frank survived and Anne reportedly died only a few weeks before the camp was liberated. In 1947, the diary was successfully published in The Netherlands and went on to be published in multiple languages around the world.
In 1957, Otto helped establish the Anne Frank Foundation, who purchased the house and restored it. Along with the neighbouring space, the house opened as museum in 1960 and now attracts over a million visitors annually.
Anne Frank Museum
Your journey through the museum will take you up and through every floor of the house and through the restored bookcase hiding the door into the secret annex. It might surprise you to find the rooms are unfurnished, but those were the wishes of Otto Frank.
I found this actually enhanced the experience, because I paid more attention to what still remained – like the growth lines marked on the wall for Margot and Anne; the photo’s and postcards in Anne’s room; and the map of Normandy that Otto kept and updated as allied troops moved through the country.
You will trek up the steep flights of stairs to the rooms where this group of people shared meals, where Margot did her latin lessons, and see the bathroom where the sink and toilet still remain.
You get to imagine this group of family and friends whose only crime was being Jewish, a crime that only existed because one man convinced a nation that Jewish people were the cause of all Germany’s problems. And the worst part? It was finding myself thinking about the parallels between what happened during that time and what is happening in our world today.
Perhaps the most powerful part of the tour is the room where the group’s fates are displayed. There are photo’s of each person on the wall – beside them are the dates of their birth and death, which camp they were sent to and original nazi documents – including death certificates.
You can also visit the new Diary Room, which has on display all of Anne Frank’s diaries and stories. Before her arrest, Anne had contemplated trying to get her diary published after the war, and had begun rewriting her work with this goal in mind. She was unable to finish.
UNESCO now recognizes Anne Franks manuscripts as part of the “Memory of the World Register.”
As you head back down the steps to ground level, there is one final display. The Oscar Award that Shelly Winters won for her role in the movie “The Diary of Anne Frank” was donated to the museum and now sits behind bulletproof glass for your viewing pleasure.
Entry into The Anne Frank House is not included in the iamsterdam City Card, but it will cover your transportation to the museum. I highly recommend one of these cards to make the most out of any trip to Amsterdam.