What is it that brings millions of people to Prinsengracht 263-267 ? It is located in the heart of Amsterdam along Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal), also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with over 1.3 million visitors every year. A visit certain to have an imprint in your memory lane.
It is here at Prinsengracht 263-267 that one of the most read books of the century, The Diary of A Young Girl, was written by a 13-year old girl who wanted to find comfort in a true friend, her diary, her dearest Kitty. Yes Amsterdam is where Anne Frank (the author, a diarist) lived during the World War II. It was the 12th of June in 1942, Anne received a diary from her father Otto Frank on her 13th birthday and the rest is history. Anne would have turned 89 years old this year if she had survived the Holocaust.
“A monument to the human spirit” ~ Phillip Knightley on The Diary of A Young Girl
From an office building (of Otto’s Opekta business) to a hiding place during the World War II (aka Secret Annex in Anne’s diary, 1942-44) and later to a biographical & historic museum as we know it today, Prinsengracht 263-267 has survived it all – refuge, fear, conflict, hunger, sadness, betrayal. But above all, it saw courage & determination of few “good beings” of human race who believed in the goodness of mankind.
“I see the world being transformed into wilderness. I hear the approaching thunder. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet… I somehow feel that everything will change for the better. And in spite of everything, people are good at heart.” ~ Anne Frank
Visiting Anne Frank House…
Why am I writing to you about Anne Frank today ? Anne’s story is worth telling a zillion times for all the right reasons. On her birth anniversary, I want to remind us all the importance of visiting a holocaust/biographical museum. If I have to describe it in 2 words, it would be enlightening & life-changing !!
Have you ever considered presenting Anne’s book as a gift ? What an invaluable gift it would be !! And at Anne Frank House, children and adults alike learn the valuable lessons of life through Anne’s story. There is an element of inspiration, influence, self-realisation and one of self awakening too.
Besides, a visit to Anne’s Secret Annex also means a lot to you personally if you were introduced to her diary during your school days. For many this visit is a revival of childhood memories of reading Anne’s book. It was an emotional visit for me. Just imagine standing there as Anne Frank today in her Secret Annex reflecting over how life was back in 1942….
I believe Anne would have really made a witty writer because when I was standing in her Secret Annex, Anne was speaking to me through her diary. One by one, Anne’s stories unfolded in front of me as I went across the Secret Annex spotting Anne’s posters in her bedroom, Otto’s map of advancing allies, marking of inmates’ heights on the wall, their meal-time debates and laughter in the kitchen, the steep stairway, the attic that was Anne’s window to the outer world and then you hear the bells ringing in Westerkerk just as Anne did.
Entering Anne Frank House…
Today tickets to Anne Frank House are 100% online; available 2 months in advance. Hence no more queuing in front of Anne Frank House. Remember millions want to pay a visit to Anne !! Hence the tickets are sold out quickly.
Last year while I was in Amsterdam and without an online reservation, queuing system was there for my rescue. So I thought of giving my luck a hard surprise test by joining the crowd who had lined all the way from the Anne Frank House till Westerkerk.
3 hours had passed by now. We were really lucky to have managed to reach the entrance. Just before entering the House, I heard a fellow visitor asking her teenage son in anger why is Anne Frank House a good place to visit ? Good Lord !!! A good place to visit !! I must be dreaming I told myself. I couldn’t believe I just saw a live example of ignorance. I am sure after the visit any ignorance would turn into enlightenment. That’s how powerful is a visit to Anne Frank House.
“To build a future, you must know the past.” ~ Otto Frank
After this incident right in front of Anne Frank House, I realised how dangerous ignorance can be !! You need not be a Holocaust survivor to raise your voice against injustice. It is enough that we all share the same humanity. And to preserve its sanctity, isn’t it our responsibility to protect our fellow human beings against hate of any sort ? You know that’s why we need leaders !! And the right ones !! To lead us in the right direction !!
“You do not resolve anything with violence or hate.” ~ Sonia K, a Holocaust survivor from Warsaw (video)
It takes a thorough planning and/or a lot of patience to visit a Holocaust museum/site. It is simply disappointing that people do not understand the importance of this visit even today. You fight for your chance here !! To make sure your efforts are worth a valuable experience, why not ask yourself one simple question: “How much prepared I am for a visit that millions have to fight for ?”
Otto Frank’s message to the world…
Before you leave Anne’s Secret Annex, you hear Otto’s voice in the hall where you find Anne’s original diary on display. Otto’s message is so relevant to everyone of us. In this video, he speaks of the importance of understanding each other as a family. He talks about not being a bitter person despite what he went through. He convinces you that it is everyone’s responsibility to make this world a better place for each other.
Otto’s words of wisdom attract you through the crowd and you will listen attentively to every word this father has to say. Because to Anne, Otto was the most adorable father she had ever seen. And Otto dearly loved his daughter too. Yet he felt he didn’t do enough. Why ? Listen to the wise words of a parent who lost his dear child. (Otto’s video here)
“…My conclusion is, as I had been in very very good terms with Anne, that most parents don’t know really their children…” ~ Otto Frank
Are you in good terms with your parents, children or siblings ? Do you really understand your family members ? Lack of proper & mutual communication can destroy anything in the world. Anything !! Why not make a small gesture of kindness today to understand each other better ? I am sure the world will certainly be a better place as Anne believed !!!
Image Credit © Anne Frank House / Photographer: Cris Toala Olivares | Featured Image of the article : Visitors waiting outside the Anne Frank House