Anne Frank House – 50th Anniversary
Prinsengracht 263, the house where Anne Frank hid from the Nazis, is a modest building, by Amsterdam canal house standards. But, with more than one million visitors a year, it is Amsterdam’s most popular sight. This is the place where Anne Frank wrote:
“Not being able to go outside upsets me more than I can say, I’m terrified our hiding place will be discovered and that we will be shot.”
On 3 May 1960, the Anne Frank House opened its doors to the public and that first year nine thousand visitors looked around the hiding place. Their numbers grew steadily over the years and today the Anne Frank House is one of Amsterdam’s most visited places.
The Frank family fled Germany when Hitler came to power. Otto Frank, Anne’s father, set up a spice trading business at Prinsengracht 263. The family lived at Merwedeplein 37. On 9 July 1942, the Franks moved to their hiding place, the achterhuis, the annex at the back of No 263. Anne described the exact lay-out of the achterhuis in her diary.
“The door to the right of the landing leads to the Secret Annex at the back of the house. No one would ever suspect there were so many rooms behind that plain grey door. There’s just one small step in front of the door. To the left is the room that serves as the Frank family’s living room and bedroom. To the right of the stairs is the bathroom, a windowless room just with a sink. If you go up the stairs and open the door at the top, you’re surprised to see such a large, light and spacious room in an old canalside house like this. It contains a gas cooker and a sink. This will be the kitchen and bedroom of Mr and Mrs van Daan, as well as the general living-room, dining-room and study for us all.”
After the war, Otto Frank, the only surviving member of the family, prevented the house from demolition. He wanted it to be,
“Neither a museum nor a place of pilgrimage but an earnest warning from the past and a mission of hope for the future.”
Frank’s wish was to keep the house unfurnished. After the Nazis discovered the family, they removed all the furniture. Walking through the empty house, you notice pencil marks on the wall, indicating the growth of Anne and Margot, her elder sister. Pins on a map of Europe tacked to the wall show the progress of the Allied Forces. Anne’s room still has the original wallpaper, decorated with her collection of movie star postcards and magazine clippings.
ANNE FRANK’S HOUSE IN 3D
Although one million people visit the Anne Frank House every year, many more wish to do so but can’t. They live too far away or cannot climb the narrow staircase to the hiding place and hundreds of other reasons.
To mark its Fiftieth Anniversary, the Anne Frank House launched the 3D Secret Annex. Everyone with Internet connection can go on a virtual tour and experience what everyday life was like for the family in hiding.
When you go online, you walk through the house, shown without furniture. With one mouse click, you add tables, chairs, beds, books and other things that were in the house. When you see the crammed rooms and realize that eight people lived there, a feeling of claustrophobia is almost inevitable. You can almost feel the edginess and quarrels that were part of daily life.
During the online experience you listen to fragments taken from Anne’s diary and eye witness accounts from the Anne Frank Foundation archives, telling the story of life in the achterhuis.
Without doubt, Anne Frank is the most famous diarist of the twentieth century. The red-checked diary was a present for her thirteenth birthday. On that day, 12 June 1942, she wrote,
“I hope I can confide in you as I have never done before in anyone and that you will be my voice.”
Anne scribbled to the last page of her diary and then continued writing two exercise books. She wrote her last entry on 1 August 1944. Three days later the Grüne Polizei, the German police, arrested and deported the family.
The original diary, two exercise books, Verhaaltjesboek, Story Book and Mooie Zinnenboek, Beautiful Sentences Book are on display in the new Diary Room in the Anne Frank House. Anne penned another three hundred and sixty loose pages, revisions of earlier diary entries. The Anne Frank House displays forty never before exhibited loose pages at a time and will rotate them regularly.
On 11 May 1944, Anne wrote,
“You’ve known for a long time that my greatest wish is to become a journalist and a famous writer. After the war, I want to publish a book entitled Het Achterhuis. If I will succeed remains to be seen, but my diary entries will be useful.”
Anne’s dream of becoming famous came true, but not the way she had wanted it.
Prinsengracht 263 (map)
tram 13 and 17, Westermarkt stop
September – March: 9 am – 7 pm
April – June: 9 am – 9 pm
July – August 9 am – 10 pm
The Secret Annex online. Wander through the furnished rooms and listen to readings from the diary.
Anne Frank’s Birthday
photo credits: personal collection
Red-checked diary is a picture postcard bought at Anne Frank House
AHouse of Anne FrankView Details and Book