Ok. I lied. There are bikes everywhere in Amsterdam. On this day of our weekend getaway, we visited the Anne Frank house, which I really wanted to photograph, but photography is not allowed in the house and it was freezing and raining outside the house, so I have no photos of my time there, but I would love to tell you all about it (and give you these lovely photos from the Dam with all the bikes, instead!).
I first read the Diary of Anne Frank when I was about 10 years old. I got it from a school book order and felt everso fancy for reading it. I'd always been into history (thanks, American Girl books!) and the diary read a lot like fiction. I've always had an incredibly vivid imagination and a love for books, so I could easily take Anne's descriptions of the secret annex and lay down a blueprint in my mind. I never thought, as a 10-year old, that I would actually visit the place where her diary was written.
The line was long. We hadn't eaten breakfast. It was cold. It was rainy. We waited for at least an hour just to purchase tickets. It was totally worth it.
We were able to tour the downstairs levels of the house, which were the rooms and offices Anne's father, Otto Frank worked in as the head of a jam factory. The business had been in his name, but was signed over to his partner, Victor Kugler, who was not Jewish. Kugler and the office staff agreed to hide Anne, her sister, mother, Otto, the three members of the Van Pels family, and Fritz Pfeffer. The eight of them lived in the annex for two years until someone (still unknown) betrayed them and they were all packed off to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen where all of them, except for Otto Frank, passed away.
At the end of the war Otto returned to the annex, where one of the office staff, Miep Gies, gave him Anne's diary, which she had saved after the raid on the annex and after much searching, had it published to fulfill Anne's wishes.
We wandered through the artifact-filled rooms occupied by Anne and the other 7 refugees. We got to see the walls, covered in pictures that Anne herself pasted there while in hiding. The tour, though unguided, had plaques and videos in most of the rooms to help explain what exactly we were seeing. It was surreal. Like I said, 10-year old me never thought she would see these rooms, and walking through them was quite an emotional experience. I highly recommend visiting the annex, long wait time in the cold and rain and everything!
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