Last year I read Anne Frank’s Diary, for the first time, thanks to Jess who lent me the copy she’s had since high school.
Sometimes my boyfriend’s survival instincts kick in and he does things that society doesn’t always appreciate. One of those things was skipping the line, right after being told that from where we were standing it would be a 1.5 hour wait minimum. Luckily the area is extremely beautiful in the center of Amsterdam.
We’d gone to get a coffee, while Mom stood and held our spots in but turning the corner we conveniently stopped instead of passing through the line, and just stood and talked….no one seemed to notice or care so I ran back and picked Mom up telling her, “I found Kees in the line. C’mon.” I didn’t dare look at her face because I knew she’d be rolling her eyes thinking, “they’ve done it again”.
It only costs 9 euro to get in, which is a decent price, considering the major draw it has. My earlier misconceptions about Anne hiding in a cupboard behind a bookcase were corrected after reading her diaries.
The place they hid was an actual house behind the offices where Anne’s father, Otto, had worked. Though the living quarters were not as uncomfortable or cramped as I’d always imagined, I know the strain of living in such close quarters with your whole family. There were so many times while reading the book that I could relate to that young 13-15 year old girl! And of course, it was not the living conditions but the potent fear they lived with each and every day. There were 8 people living in the small house and none but Anne’s father, Otto Frank survived the war. It’s the most famous WW2 story and yet, only one of many, many, many devastating true stories of a horrific war that cost millions of lives.
Kees said, “I was kind of underwhelmed by the whole thing, shall we go warn all the people standing in line?!” He is terrible sometimes! And I would not listen to him. It’s such a fantastic experience to stand in the secret hiding spot of Anne. Wow. I think for Kees it is different because it may just look like an ordinary Dutch home to him. I suppose, when you consider most of the homes and buildings still standing in Amsterdam have stories to tell from the war and the entire area is extraordinary, on the scale of things it could be considered “underwhelming” .
The thing that hit me on a personal level most was being able to see her journals. The place where she would escape, that place she found comfort among the pages. That simple luxury of a pen and paper, something that I also turned to in my teens while travelling in remote, and extremely foreign countries. As she grew older her writing changed, as did she. I literally could have sat there and stared at her beautifully handwritten notes all day.
Anne’s journal Anne at the beach
My journals of the trip
Luckily because of our line skipping, we were just on time for our ANNE showing at 8pm in the Amsterdam Theatre. When we left the Anne Frank house, the line had grown even longer, nearly wrapping around the second street block. So, if you are ever planning to come to Amsterdam to see The Anne Frank House, you can book tickets in advance. I do thank everyone in the line behind us for your sacrifice, because this was a truly remarkable, educational, moving and humbling day of following the story of Anne Frank and we never would’ve made it if we’d had to wait 2 hrs in line.
The set of the “ANNE” play in Amsterdam was absolutely extraordinary. I’ve never seen anything like it and it was simply breathtaking. If you do not speak Dutch you don’t have to worry because for just 1 Euro you can get it translations in many languages are available with headphones and subtitles on an ipad in front of your seat. I could understand MOST of the Dutch, but it was nice to have the subtitles there in English if I missed something. Incredible.
The set was so advanced, the house could rotate, windows and levels of the houses changed, the screen/stage shrunk and expanded throughout…I can’t even explain it, so please just come and see it for yourself! I so regret not sneaking a picture, but I was too enchanted.
I loved everything about the play, but the highlights were authentic photos and videos from the war and Anne’s writing projected onto the giant screen throughout. Wow. So powerful. I found it interesting that she scratched out words in her journal, something I rarely, rarely did.
She mentioned how her diary was her life. The place she could express herself. I imagined her being torn away from her journal, her best friend Kitty, when the Frank family was betrayed and caught by the Nazis. The line that hit me the most was that in prison there was no paper or pen for Anne Frank. That was her life and her escape and to be denied that one, simple luxury is only a small portrayal of the torture she had to endure. The image of her personal, hand written notes still fresh in my mind, I could all too easily imagine how suffocated she would’ve felt without them.
It is hard to believe that hatred, torture and wars are still going on today. Despite having the documented history why have we still not learned how to avoid these terrible actions? I have been fortunate (yes, fortunate) enough to see the effects of war through concentration camps such as Auschwitz in Poland, genocide museums in Armenia, mass graves and preserved bodies from the Hutu and Tutsi wars in Rwanda, rubble and remains of buildings in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and spoken first hand with victims of World War 2 in Holland, Serbia and dismembered survivors of Liberia and Sierra Leone civil wars. Their stories are remarkable and have made me seriously reconsider my own “problems”. Kees and I often stop ourselves in complaints and realize, “these are just luxury problems” which always helps us remember not to fret so much.
Liberia Sierra Leone
Being exposed to these realities have brought the kind of awareness and emotions in my life that I hope will be what prevent others from repeating the mistakes of history. So unnecessary and full of torment. I am so privileged and blessed to have been born in a peaceful country like Canada and to be able to live in another, equally as safe country like Holland. To be brought up in a nation that I never had to fear for my life or my neighbours, is a privilege few have truly had throughout the history of mankind. Rather than upset you, I hope that this post will remind you of all the very small things and big things we have to be grateful for in our lives. Remember to help those in need and love each other. Erase and ignore the hate, because it is hate that leads people to such evil actions throughout history.
The beauty and diversity of the world amazes me. One moment you can be walking up to a remote church on a hill in Georgia (the country) another you’re trekking by camel back through the blowing sands of the Sahara Desert, skiing down the French Alps staring across the layered mountains at Mt Blanc or you’re landing on a tiny strip of earth amidst the dense South American Amazon in a tiny airplane…
Georgia Sahara Desert, Mauritania
French Alps Suriname
Life is a wonder and I’m so thankful that I have been able to experience and explore so much of it. Thank you Anne Frank for reminding me to appreciate the good in the world.
Categories: Savannah Grace