The Diary of Anne Frank comes alive…

Many people may not realise but if you look through the misty clouds that smell slightly weird and peel your eyes away from the red light district for more than a few minutes you will realise that Amsterdam is much more than a liberal party city. It is living and breathing the history of a horrible, horrible past. While some of these histories are a little hard to find, one that is not so difficult is the Anne Frank house. The only problem you will have is not getting there early enough and having to line up.

I had read The Diary of Anne Frank as a young girl, possibly a similar age to her at 15 when she succumbed to disease and died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Her diary really touched my heart and if you have read her story you will know that Anne Frank’s diary didn’t often discuss the horribly, dirty details of the Holocaust but rather the every day details of her life. Relationships, feelings, dreams and aspirations. These are the things that make Anne’s diary so real and raw and why you often realise exactly why the Holocaust was such a tragedy. Anne had dreams and aspirations like every single one of us, she had feelings not dissimilar to ones we have felt growing up and this is exactly why her story is so sad. For, while most of us get to grow up and realise our dreams, fulfil relationships and experience life, the only fate that Anne came to realise was one of disease which lead to her death in a extermination camp only one month from liberation after her family were betrayed from their hiding spot in Amsterdam.

The only surviving member of her immediate family was Otto Frank, her father, which whom she shared a loving relationship with. Once he had the contents of her diary given to him and he finally worked the courage up to read it, which understandably took him a little while, he made it his life’s mission to make Anne’s dream come true.

I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death.

This quote constantly bring tears to my eyes as I think of the work Otto has done to make this possible and hope beyond everything that somehow, somewhere Anne knows that this in fact did come true.

Being in the shop and going up to the attic, through the famous book case hiding spot was an amazing moment and one I will never forget. Walking through the rooms was unbelievable; seeing where she sat and decorated her walls, where the family sat and slept, where she shared her first kiss and seeing all the other anecdotes come to life was truly amazing.

Before arriving I honestly didn’t think the museum would be this effective but it really truly was. One of the reasons I think this was so was because Otto did such a good job of ensuring everything was kept to exactly the way he thought it should be. One of the greatest things they have done is left all of the rooms completely bare with the only remnants being things posted on the wall such as Anne’s favourite movie stars or the measurements of the children penciled in to the wall. Otto did this on purpose and I think it works perfectly as there is a certain feeling of loss and sadness as you walk through the rooms.

The other part of the museum that brought me to tears was the video of her friend who remembers Anne in the last few days of her life when they are reunited at Bergen-Belsen. Her friend tries to help her, as she is in a safer part of the camp, by throwing over some supplies but a lady steals them before Anne can get them. The next day Anne’s friend tries again and Anne receives the parcel but after this Anne succumbs to disease and is never to be seen again.

The Anne Frank House is not only a museum but a story that you live and experience as you go through the rooms. It’s hard not to feel something when your there and it makes you realise and wonder how many more stories similar, or even dissimilar but equally important, there must be. Anne Frank’s story is but one of over 6 million individual stories of victims of the holocaust and if millions of people can be touched by one story, you can only imagine the effect it would have if people could listen to the individual story of each person who lay victim to this horrible, horrible part of the world’s history.

Over the next few posts I will be writing more about stories and experiences of the Holocaust as we move on to Berlin and even though these posts will be somber and sad, if it can enlighten or make at least one person think about it I will be happy.

The Holocaust, in my opinion, should never be forgotten and never not be discussed. It is our duty as decent human beings to spread the story of the Holocaust to everyone we can in the hopes that one day maybe the world will learn from the pasts’ horrible mistakes.

As Otto Frank put it, much more eloquently than I ever could…

“To build a future, you have to know the past”