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The House of Anne Frank
Anne Franks House (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Member Name: loulou22
Anne Franks House (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Advantages: Interesting and informative.
Disadvantages: No disabled access
At the end of March 2012 during a trip to Amsterdam we decided to take a trip to the former house of Anne Frank which has now been turned into a museum.
A Little Bit of History
When I was at school I have a vague memory of briefly learning about Anne Frank. So vague is this memory that I have to admit I hardly knew a thing about her, other than she was Jewish and was in hiding during the war. Shameful as it sounds I didn't even know the location of her hiding place! No comment on the standard of our history lessons! Regardless of my lack of education regarding Anne Frank I was still interested in learning more about her and therefore when this trip was being planned I insisted that we visit the museum.
For those of you who, don't know the story of Anne Frank I will try to give you a brief history...
Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl born in Germany in 1929. In 1933 the Frank family emigrated to the Netherlands after becoming worried about the situation in their homeland when Hitler took over Government. Life was great for the Frank family until the second world war in 1940 and the German invasion of the Netherlands. It was at this time that Otto Frank, Anne's father constructs a Secret Annex hiding place behind the family business and takes his family, along with 4 other Jews' into hiding to evade capture. The family live here for a number of years, before eventually being discovered and taken away to concentration camps after somebody, the identity of whom is still unknown, betrayed the Franks and revealed their hiding place.
During the time spent in hiding Anne kept a diary detailing their secret life, how they must be silent so they are not discovered, the pressures of so many people living in such a small area and of course the feelings of Anne and how she deals with their living situation. This diary was returned by a family friend to the sole survivor of the concentration camps, Otto Frank, on his return to Amsterdam after the war. It had been his daughter's dream that one day she would have her writings published and so he decided to fulfil her dream and in 1947 'The Diary of Anne Frank' was published.
Anne Frank's House - The Museum
When we arrived at Anne Frank's House we saw the queue was so long that it stretched outside the building and around the corner! We had a little grumble but decided to wait anyway as this was something we all wanted to do. We queued for around 15 minutes before paying our admission and being free to enter the house. I don't like calling it a museum as it feels slightly inappropriate and it doesn't really feel like a museum, but rather more of a family home, which of course at the end of the day it is.
We entered into a room which was mainly white and contained a few photographs of Anne as well as a couple of extracts from her diary written on the wall, from here we moved into the yard or garage area of where the Frank's family business would have operated from. All around us we could see photos and memorabilia from the time and extracts from Anne's diary have been painted onto the wall. From here we moved around the house and through the offices of the family business before making our way upstairs to the living quarters. I found it both interesting and moving that all of the original decor of the house was present with regards to the wall coverings and various fixtures on the wall, however the contents of the house, such as furniture have been removed as this was Otto Franks' wish if the house was to be turned into a museum and open to the public. For me, this created a strange feeling in the house but at the same time I think I managed to capture the reason as to why Otto had wanted this.
In one of the rooms there were two glass display cabinets showing how the furniture was arranged prior to it being removed and there were various photos shown of reconstructed scenes made especially for the museum. These photos were often accompanied with a written description of what we can see in the photo and there are a lot of pieces of writing for you to read as you make your way around the house. The rooms also had large TV's showing interviews with surviving friends of the Frank family telling their memories from the time and their feelings. I enjoyed listening to these interviews as I found them really interesting, I also found them quite emotional and moving too.
From the living quarters we then moved to the Secret Annex. Entering behind the infamous bookcase we had to climb a very steep set of stairs at the top of which we found ourselves in a much smaller space than downstairs and trying to take in the reality of how 8 people would have lived together in such a small space. As with downstairs the Secret Annex contained no furniture, only the fixtures and fittings along with a small kitchen sink and the old pipe works. On the walls of the Annex we could see pictures, magazine clippings and photographs which Anne has used to 'brighten the place up'. These items are the originals and are still in their original positions on the wall although they are now protected by large perspex cases.
From the Annex we move back down some more very steep stairs and find ourselves in a large open area with various displays of paperwork and memorabilia including original and substitute immigration forms for the Frank family. We can also see the paperwork from when the Franks' were taken to the concentration camps which are displayed alongside photographs of each family member.
Our visit to Anne Frank's house ends in the gift shop where as you can find copies of Anne Frank's Diary published in many languages if you wish to purchase it. I personally came away from the house with the urge to read the diary, but, I was not willing to pay the prices they were charging in the gift shop and have subsequently ordered a copy online!
Due to the steep stairs located around the house this museum is unfortunately completely unsuitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs.
The Anne Frank House has toilet facilities located on the entrance level, at the time of our visit they were nice and clean and well looked after.
Location, Opening Hours & Entrance
Anne Frank's house is located in Amsterdam on Prinsengracht 263-267. It is open 7 days a week from 9am until 9pm or 7pm from September to March. The entrance fee is 9 euros for an adult, 4.50 Euro for under 17's and under 9's go free!
Overall I really enjoyed our visit to Anne Frank's House. As I mentioned at the start of the review I knew very little about her and how she and her family lived, by the time I had been around the house I came out with more knowledge that I could actually absorb. I felt like I had learnt a lot from this visit and like I wanted to read the Diary to not only learn more but also remind myself of the many details I was bound to forget.
I like the way the house is displayed to the public although I can appreciate that some may not like that the rooms are now bare, while I personally like this I also felt as if the empty rooms made the space feel slightly bigger as you couldn't see exactly how cramped this already small area would have been. We managed to spend around 2 and a half, possibly even 3 hours here and I can honestly say the time flew by!
Final Note: Photographs are prohibited completely within the house, even without a flash on your camera. There are many signs warning you of this placed around the house.
Recommended by me :)
Thanks for reading :)
Summary: The House of Anne Frank