Have you ever had that feeling of complete darkness? Not from something unpleasant happening to you, but for a moment you step into someone else’s shoes and see their life from their perspective, or at least try too. This is the feeling that you get when entering a place like the Anne Frank House. It is a feeling that is hard to even prepare yourself for, and a feeling that you don’t get from anything else.
I visited the Anne Frank House on my trip to Holland last May. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this visit because I had read mixed reviews prior to my trip. Even though I am not one to go to museums, and not a huge history buff, I didn’t feel like I could leave Amsterdam without a visit to this place. I mean at the end of the day, it is the least you can do to show respect to all the people that suffered through this dreadful part of history.
Prior to my visit to this museum, I had pre-booked my tickets to avoid the long lines and wait times. I did not really know how to prepare myself for what I was about to experience. To be honest, it was pretty surreal just standing outside the Anne Frank House, knowing what took place there so many years ago, so it was hard to envision what it would be like inside.
The house did not have much to it, it was unfurnished and there were very few things left in the house at all but the surreal thing was, there didn’t need to be. As you walk through the house, visiting each small room, and climbing up the narrow staircase, the feeling that washes over you is indescribable. You didn’t even have to have read Anne’s Diary, or know much about the story of the Frank family to take a glimpse back in time to what their life in hiding was like.
The room that really hit me was the room in which Anne stayed. Plastered on the wall were small photos from magazines that she hung on her wall to try and make it more homey and welcoming. These magazine photos still stood stuck on the wall like they did many years ago. When you see something like that, that is when it really hits you, that is when you realize that you are walking through a part of history, a dreadful, horrifying part of history. It is almost impossible to not feel something.
It is hard to believe a place like this still stands, and was left so untouched – aside for the furniture of course. When you reach the end of a tour, you enter a room with Anne’s diaries and excerpts from her years of writing. It helps give you a better understanding of what this family went through, and gives you a perspective of just how terrible and frightening it would be to live your life in hiding, especially as a child.
When I finally left the house, I was pretty far away from my hostel but I decided to walk anyways instead of taking the tram. I needed time to digest what I just experienced, and reflect on it. I was happy that I had planned my tour through the Anne Frank House in the evening, because I was not in the mood to do much afterwards, I don’t even think I went out for dinner but just back to my hostel in disbelief. It has always blown my mind that something like this ever happened in history to begin with, but I feel like you don’t fully, truly believe it until you are put in a place that forces you to think about it, a place that proves to you that this really did happen.
On my way out of the museum I grabbed myself an English copy of the Diary of Anne Frank. I felt almost appalled in myself that I had not given the book the respect it deserved, and had not even taken the time to read it. I truthfully feel that they should make students read this book as part of the curriculum in school, as oppose to books that have no historical significance. We hear about and read about this part in history, but not often do you get to put yourself in someone’s shoes to try and fully experience it.
You probably wonder why would anyone want to go to such a sad and dark museum on a vacation or trip? The experience I had within these four walls was one that was like no other experience I have ever had along my travels through the years. Reading about this in history books does not do it justice, and after spending two weeks in Amsterdam, and seeing all the main attractions, this was by far my favourite spot and a must-do for anyone traveling to Amsterdam.
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