Wednesday, 15 April 2015

I went back to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

 I went back to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam
In fact I have been there twice in one month. As the first time was a very brief day visit. I didn't expect to be able to visit the Anne Frank house as the queues are hours long to get in. But I must have hit on lucky as there was only 40 minutes wait when I went there for the first time by myself. I adore Amsterdam and all of the  art and culture and surprisingly I loved the bikes as much as anything else. My daughter who had read The fault in our stars and seen the film was determined to have her wish come true, and it was now at the top of her wish list, and it was to visit Amsterdam and the Anne Frank house after she had heard about my first visit experience. I am sure she romantically visioned it like the film The fault in our stars, but she is such an avid reader she loves Anne Franks diary too.
My daughter has just turned 13 years old and she is an amazing writer. She always has her nose in a book and one of my very first blogs was dedicated to the bookworm with a nose in a book at all times! It is still available to read.
So even though it was a busy month with 2 birthdays, one book launch and one anniversary (hold on while I try to digest that again) in April we decided once again to take ourselves back, but this time with my 2 youngest daughters in tow.
The weather was amazing and they loved the cruise down and across the sea. We stayed not far from the Anne Frank house but because it was the 70 year anniversary approaching the queues going back the second time were at least 3 hours long and that was very early on in the day too!
 Still we were determined so we set off early after breakfast and stood in the growing queue in the lovely sunshine breeze of a day.

We took it in turns to stand in the queue as the children needed to visit the toilet and get drinks etc, but near the front people turned a little ugly. They said because we had not all stood in the queue that they would complaint if we tried to let them back in. The girls were very embarrassed so they decided to give up visiting the Anne Frank house and we decided to visit other places of interest that day instead.
We did get to go back, but it really surprised me how so many people can be self absorbed this way and treat children like that.
As a positive family we prefer to surround ourselves with positive people so took ourselves somewhere a little more pleasant. I could have very easily stood my ground and argued, but because we had the girls with us we did not want to make things uncomfortable for them and I decided I also didn't want to go in at the same time as these unhappy negative people so we would go back the next day.
Needless to say our holiday blip was not spoiled and we continued in the vein we started out with and we were very excited and thrilled to be cycling through the sunny streets of Amsterdam.
I thought it best to tell you about this little blip and leave every bit of our adventure in as you get a taste of how our trip was. Happily that negative moment was soon forgotten about, and I knew I would get even once I had written about them.
Never mess with an author unless you want to be the troll in their next story! 

In the Anne Frank house
When we got inside the house on a more positive day we were taken back in time to the days when Anne was held prisoner in that Annex away from many eyes and ears that may whisper and give away their hiding place.
A very bittersweet story but one that needs to be told, and Anne did tell it very well. Her diary is the 2nd most read non fiction book after the bible, so perhaps one or two people indeed were told.
I can only tell you what it feels like to walk through the wardrobe and in the rooms they hid away in all that time.

The Anne Frank House
Approaching a house that would be filled with the memories of those hidden away in the secret Annex was met with mixed feelings. Apprehension, excited, slightly pensive but determined to experience the wonder of a remarkable place, which held an even more remarkable prisoner. Anne tells her story not just for herself, but for all of those who surrendered their life to the Holocaust teaching us may we never forget this global truth, this abomination to humankind, while at the same time also knowing that man is good. "Despite everything I really think people are good at heart". Most people are good. But more poignant than that her story not only taught people about the holocaust and how Jews were sent to concentration camps, but to actually get inside someones thoughts and feel it and live it, and experience a taste of it, well that is a powerful experience that will never allow us to forget. And so for every person who stepped inside this house, they felt as if they had stepped back in time.
You could feel the air change and regardless of how many people were allowed in at the same time, a silence came over us as we moved through the house and especially stepping into the secret room behind the wardrobe.

 Photos from my personal collection from inside the house 

They had replaced everything back as it was when Anne and the families were staying there. So you could be forgiven for thinking they had just been caught and the house was as they had left it.

There was a long line of people following each other around the building. Once inside you preferred to linger in each room as it gave one a time to reflect and take in the atmosphere. See my photos from outside the building and the canal, my daughter and family on bikes at the other side of the road and from different streets, the view of the church where the bell chimed. Canals run right in front of the Anne Frank building. People outside, free in the sun, know that Anne Frank and the seven other people in the Annex never got that human right to walk free in the sun again.
As you move around the house, Anne's quotes are etched into the walls. You see her videos, you hear her voice, you wish something could have prevented this atrocity way back then. You cling to the walls as you move silently through the house. Cling to her memories while reliving them in the only way you can because of her diary. Those scribbled snatches of a 13/14 year old child's memories hidden away during the peak of the 2nd world war.

Anne was a normal 13 year old child, as my daughter was that day she first went to visit. With all the hopes and dreams a normal 13 year old has and should always have.
How helpless but how inspiring as a person, and wise beyond her years to leave the legacy she did. She died not in vain. She has drawn millions upon millions of people into her soul and feel things from her point of view and change view points where no politician could ever dream of doing.
The full weight of her diary, her story and her life hits you from entering the main door, all the way throughout the tour of the house and you feel as if you have just exhaled as you feel the warm sunshine on your face as you step into the street back outside. And there it stays with you all around Amsterdam. One can only imagine what it was like to be locked up for that amount of time and always, always clinging onto hope.

Entering each room you really did go back to the day and time Anne was there in that same room you were standing in. Only this time there were many visitors from around the world standing in the same room with you, not daring to talk, or breathe hardly. Invisible; but not.
Can you imagine how it must have felt to look out at this vivid world from a dark room, but know you could never look out the drapes hung at the windows? Those heavy dark drapes, keeping you away from sun and air and outside.

Can you imagine how you may feel when you go in that room with the original famous bookcase that covers the opening to the Secret Annex, then step through it?
After the journey around the house you are then taken into exhibits about Anne's discovery by the Nazis and her death at the concentration camp, along with her Father Otto's work searching for his family and how he got her diary published.

Anne Frank's story is so powerful and her desire to be a famous author, was so poignant as it came true for her only after death and with the insistence of her Father.
Anne always lived for hope and her dreams, and her hopes and dreams continue on through her father persistence to get her story published. He didn't give up on Anne or her diary. Anne's hope reminds us to be thoughtful, kind and happy, to be ourselves and not allow negativity to engulf us or affect us. To reach out and achieve our goals and if she can manage that in her circumstances then we can surely be reminded to not be complacent for us how to do the same thing. Thank you Anne for giving us hope to dare to dream.

Anne Frank died 70 years ago. The Jewish teenager was 13 when her family was forced into hiding in the Annex in a house in Amsterdam. Two years later, in 1944, they were betrayed and Anne was taken to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. It was there that she died, aged just 15, from starvation and disease.

To mark the anniversary of her death, the Anne Frank Trust UK has come up with a memorial campaign called #NotSilent.
The idea is for people to spend one minute reading a passage from Anne’s diary and upload a video on social media – instead of having a minute’s silence.
No-one knows the exact date Anne died, but they have carefully chosen the date of 14th April as schools will be in session and it’s one day before the anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, where Anne died. Poignantly, our anniversary also is about the week Anne died, our anniversary starts on the April the 13th, so we will hold a memory video and film for her on the launch of our new website

“Through the #NotSilent campaign Anne’s voice will resonate loudly around the country and we will stand together against the challenges of prejudice, discrimination and injustices that are still experienced today.”
A number of celebrities and high-profile individuals have already created footage of themselves reading their favourite passages from Anne’s diary.

“It's difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

Anne Frank quotes from her diary.

“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!”

“I feel wicked sleeping in a warm bed, while my dearest friends have been knocked down or have fallen into a gutter somewhere out in the cold night. I get frightened when I think of close friends who have now been delivered into the hands of the cruelest brutes that walk the earth. And all because they are Jews!”

“I don’t believe the war is simply the work of politicians and capitalists. Oh no, the common man is every bit as guilty; otherwise, people and nations would have re- belled long ago! There’s a destructive urge in people, the urge to rage, murder and kill. And until all of humanity, without exception, undergoes a metamorphosis, wars will continue to be waged, and everything that has been carefully built up, cultivated and grown will be cut down and destroyed, only to start allover again!”

"I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

I look upon our life in hiding as an interesting adventure, full of danger and romance, and every privation as an amusing addition to my diary. I’ve made up my mind to lead a different life from other girls, and not to become an ordinary housewife later on.

"I'm becoming more and more independent of my parents. Young as I am, I face life with more courage and have a better and truer sense of justice than Mother. I know what I want, I have a goal, I have opinions, a religion and love. If only I can be myself, I'll be satisfied. I know that I'm a woman with inner strength and a great deal of courage!"

Links read The Diary of a young girl. 
The Secret Annex