The One in the Secret Hiding Place

January 4: There is one Holocaust victim that everyone can relate to on some level. Her words have changed the way we perceive the constant fear and the unknown for those who lived in during this time. For two years and one month, the Franks, and a four other residents, lived in hiding from the Nazis. Today, we got to visit the secret annex.

I was very anxious to visit the Anne Frank House. Not only because I am using her as part of my final research paper for this course, but because I did not know what to expect. I had a similar feeling when my family and I traveled to Arlington National Cemetery. I knew that visiting this house might bring up some emotions, but would they debilitate my ability to absorb all the information the site has to offer? There was only one way to find out.

We walked about 20 minutes from our hotel to bypass the already lengthy line at the entrance of the house. We learned that the entrance is located two buildings to the right of the actual house, and all three buildings are used for museum purposes. Our class came together to learn about the history of the Franks and how they eventually went into hiding. The building was home to Otto Frank’s jam making business. However, when the Nazis came to the Netherlands, he had to give his business to a fellow colleague. It turns out he also prepared the “Secret Annex” for almost a year before the family went into hiding. It was located on the third, fourth, and fifth floors of the back house of the business. There, the Franks and others in hiding spent their days in silence and utter anomnynity. The account of these silent and shut-in days passing by provides us of what we now know as the Diary of Anne Frank.

Walking through the house was incredibly educational. We started in the museum portion, learning about the annex, the preludes to hiding, and personal accounts of those closest to the Frank family. Corresponding quotes from the diary cascaded the walls and put everything into better perspective. The annex itself was not quite what I expected. The curtains were drawn and it was dark inside, giving a more real-life illusion to what environment they lived in for over two years. After walking through the annex, the walk looped back around to information about what happened to the Franks after they were discovered. Some video accounts show interviews of people who saw Anne and her sister in the concentration camp. Anne died one month before the camp was liberated; Otto was the only Frank to survive. The tour then lead to the display of Anne’s original diary, and all the other notebooks and loose-leaf paper she used to write her story. She wrote the diary for the intent of having it be published, and today, the Diary of Anne Frank can be read over 60 languages.

We all surfaced to the daylight with an even greater sense of their ordeal. The line to go inside was probably a quarter of a mile long, so we were all thankful to have had reservations. I went with a group to walk around Amsterdam a final time. Becca and I also took the advantage of time to visit the Rijksmuseum. They had a collection of Rembrants, and once again, I was trying not to drool all over the floor…

We concluded the evening with a class meeting to debrief about the day’s activities. My professors then helped me track down my luggage. It took almost an hour, but we learned it was en route to London and was to arrive in Amsterdam exactly three hours after we are to depart. So close, yet still so far! It will be forwarded to Berlin; fingers crossed I get it in a couple days.

Amsterdam was not at all what I expected it to be and I had a great time exploring the city with my classmates.

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