For the love of writing, my trip to Amsterdam would have been incomplete without a visit to Anne Frank House.
At the beginning of the tour I expected to read her diaries plastered on the walls but there were only captioned photos and mementos. I couldn’t find an emotional response to what I was seeing and reading. I wanted to rebuke myself for my lack of empathy. I had never seen the film nor read The Diary of Anne Frank but I thought I knew her story.
Born in Frankfurt-am-Mein, Anne was the second daughter of Otto and Edith Frank. The other daughter, Margot was 4 years older.
When Hitler started arresting the Jews, Otto moved his family to Amsterdam and set up a jam factory.
Soon the Nazi invaded Amsterdam and to keep his business, Otto transferred the ownership to one of his staff, Miep. As Hitler’s forces relentlessly searched for every Jew, Otto declared to Miep that he had decided to hide with his family in the factory house.
Later on, four more people joined the Franks.
As the story unfolded, my heart started to break especially when I got to the Secret Annex. Anne’s diaries evoked unspeakable sadness. They couldn’t glimpse even a single ray of light. For more than two years they lived like they didn’t exist.
It was like watching a suspense thriller. The plot was building up and I couldn’t wait to get to the end of the story and read about the happy ending.
However, it took a twist and the 8 prisoners were betrayed. Though wretched and miserable as it may have sounded, the Secret Annex was a haven compared to the concentration camp.
No more diary entrees for Anne but her story continued through the recollection of her friend. Finally, I could see the end of the story.
In a short video clip towards the end of the tour, Otto Frank talked about his discovery of Anne’s diary and her dream to be a famous publisher.
I thought I knew the story of Anne Frank but my visit to her house and The Secret Annex revealed I didn’t. Anne Frank was just like any other girls who wanted to love and laugh, to live in a peaceful community where she could exercise her rights. She had great aspirations and determination.
Today, her book The Diary of A Young Girl has been translated in 70 languages and was included in the World Heritage Memory of the World Register.
By the canal outside Anne Frank’s House I sat and wept when I realised she didn’t live to see her dream fulfilled.