Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, is one of the most moving and thought-provoking books ever written. If you haven’t already read it – stop reading this post right now and go find a copy. If you have read it – a pilgrimage to Amsterdam to see the annex where Anne, her family and the van Pels family lived for years during World War II, is a worthwhile endeavor that will drive home the dreadful human cost of war.
In addition to seeing the actual rooms where Anne lived, the museum provides interpretation, context and primary documents relating to the Jewish experience during WWII. One of the most poignant moments for us was seeing images of the street as it was in the 1940s – filled with Gestapo officers rounding up Jewish people – superimposed over the street view today. The Prinsengracht is a peaceful, beautiful canal, and it’s hard to believe that such terrible things happened in such a wonderful place. The other thing that is really driven home is just how bureaucratic the Nazi war machine was – the impersonal and organized killing of humans is chilling to behold.
We suggest visiting the Dutch Resistance Museum in conjunction with your visit to the Anne Frank House. For another, less obvious, reminder of just how much the world lost in the holocaust, visit the Tuschinski Theatre, a marvelous Art Deco creation, named for it’s first owner, Abraham Icek Tuschinski, who was murdered in Auschwitz.
Buy your tickets ahead of time – the line can be long, especially in the summer. We went in January, and were able to get in straight away.
See this on your first visit to Amsterdam. Read (or reread!) the book before you go.