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By the canal outside Anne Frank’s house I sat and wept

Anne Frank House

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.

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{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Agness of Fit Travelling March 5, 2017, 8:02 pm

    I know the story of Anne Frank and I totally understand what you are speaking, Jemina! Great post!

  • Jordan Adkins - Inspired By Maps September 21, 2016, 6:07 pm

    I never managed to make it inside as it was pouring with rain and the line was a few hours long…but now I wish I had. Such a horrible moment in human history and I just hope we are never doomed to repeat it!
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  • Nilabh Ranjan September 6, 2016, 6:41 am

    A beautiful post about a wonderful story.I read and googled Anne Frank’s memoir back . The content justify the story

  • Nancy September 5, 2016, 7:16 pm

    We went to the Anne Frank house years ago and left with such a heavy heart. Thoughts of her stayed with me for weeks! After that I had to read almost anything I could get my hands on about her. What an incredible young girl she was and amazing how she lived life to the fullest even in her small space. We can learn so much from her life.
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  • Angela September 5, 2016, 2:27 pm

    I read the book years ago and always thought when we visit Amsterdam that we would go as well. I can’t imagine the horror and suffering so many dealt with during that time. It’s horrible, but also eye opening and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your experience!
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  • Lisa September 5, 2016, 11:09 am

    I have read the diary and am very familiar with Anne’s story as well as Corrie Ten Boon. I will definitely visit when I visit Amsterdam!
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  • Castaway with Crystal September 5, 2016, 10:49 am

    This is a beautiful post 🙂 I read that book when I was younger too. Really hard-hitting. Thanks for the post.
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  • mimi September 5, 2016, 10:33 am

    What a very nice emotional story. In retrospect, even though she did not live to see her personal dreams fulfilled, it took a different turn in touching so many lives she never knew 🙂
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  • Kerri September 5, 2016, 8:45 am

    I read the books in school, I’ve watched endless movies and documentaries and I’ve been here twice. It has left a long lasting impact on me. The images of Anne and her family living in that small room behind the walls is just something I could never imagine having to do. The resilience of that family was just incredible.

    • Jemina Sentina September 18, 2016, 10:18 am

      Hi Kerri, that’s true. I felt overwhelmed with pathos after visiting the house.

  • melody pittman September 5, 2016, 5:31 am

    What a beautiful post about a wonderful yet heart wrenching story. Thank you for sharing a quick story version and how it touched you to be witnessing the spot where this kind of life existed. Well done.

  • Vyjay September 4, 2016, 12:26 pm

    I had read, “The Diary of Anne Frank”, when in school and it had a great impact and the book moved me like none other. It is great that you got to visit her house and walk on the same ground that she would have walked many years ago. Amsterdam is on my bucket list and I hope to get there some day.
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    • Jemina Sentina September 4, 2016, 12:57 pm

      I wish I had read her book before my visit but then it would not have had the same climax. Hope you get to visit Amsterdam soon. I forgot about Corrie Ten Boom’s house though.

  • Evan Kristine September 4, 2016, 11:57 am

    I had to read Anne Frank’s memoir back in Highschool and that was too extreme. I’ve been to Amsterdam twice now but couldn’t get the courage to visit her attic home.
    Evan Kristine recently posted…Awesome Eats: Travelers Share Their Favorite Food From Around The GlobeMy Profile

    • Jemina Sentina September 4, 2016, 12:19 pm

      Oh bless your heart! I get a similar reaction when I watch movies about the cruelty of the Japs to the Filipinos during WW2. I couldn’t bear watching the whole movie to the end.

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