It's been 30-years since I had read Ann Frank, The Diary of A Young Girl, but I remember how it moved me even then. I remember the book report vividly and even the pages of the sample diary that my Mom helped me 'burn' on our coil burner to make the pages look old. I think I still have it.
Maddy has been reading of the Holocaust during our trip. Reading The Book Thief and seeing the movie in Buenos Aires, she also read most of Anne Frank until she lost the book somewhere in India. Izzy was brave enough to tour the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany with us. Ben is absorbing it all in his own unique way that he will show us when he is ready. We thought visiting the Anne Frank House would be a good culmination for this aspect of our trip.
As promised we were able to bypass the wrap-around the corner, down the block, long line and get right in. Worth two sets of tickets for me. We signed up for the Family Discussion and Tour that promised a 30-minute overview and Q & A about the museum then the tour. The discussion left a bit to be desired as I was hoping for someone with a bit more passion about the subject but the tour of the office building and Secret Annex was extremely moving.
The Secret Annex was left in the exact same condition as it was when Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam. They make sure to tell you this as people always ask why the museum is empty of furniture. He wanted everyone who entered to feel the solace and emptiness that he felt when he returned to his former home. They also do not allow photographs. They want people to see the house with their eyes and not through a lens.
As you walk through these rooms you can only imagine how eight peopled lived together for over two years in this cramped and dark space. Forced to give up their freedoms and dreams and create a new life indoors based on fear and anxiety. As adults we do amazing things to protect our families. As children we can do amazing things to adapt to new circumstances.
At one point in the tour there is a video running of Otto Frank talking about his experience when he first read the diary. He spoke of Anne's sharp tongue and her active opinions during her short life, but it wasn't until he read her diary that he learned about her passionate mind and her dreams. He even says something like, "You never really know who your children really are." Luckily Izzy was standing right next to me and showed me she was listening when she nudged me and raised her eyebrows.
While Otto might be very right with his statement, I was just happy to see that Izzy was still paying attention.