One of the most emotional and heart wrenching places to visit in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank Museum, situated at 267 Prinsengracht. This is the house where Anne Frank and her family, Hermann van Pels and his family, and Fritz Pfeffer, spent the years from 1942 to 1945, hidden in a concealed area of the house known as the 'Secret Annex'. These Jewish people were constantly under the terror of being discovered by the Germans Nazis who had taken over Amsterdam.
The building was the business premises of Otto Frank, Anne's father. When he realized the life-endangering situation his family and friends faced, he devised a plan to hide them from the Nazis.
The museum chronicles their lives before, during and after this period. It is dedicated to the memory of the eight people hidden there, including Anne Frank, who, during her captivity, wrote a detailed diary of her life and thoughts. The museum also details the bravery of Victor Kugler, Johannes Kleiman, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuil who risked their own lives to protect these families.
Unfortunately it is a story with a tragic ending. The families were eventually betrayed to the Nazis in 1945 and all but one, Otto Frank, Anne's father, died in concentration camps or on the way to them.
Visitors may wonder why the rooms of the annex have been left unfurnished. This was a request by Otto Frank who wanted it to remain in the same state as the Nazis left it, completely empty. Jews who were deported has all their property taken from their homes which was then either destroyed or sent to Germany.
The museum displays an extensive collection of original documents including letters, official forms, objects and photographs belonging to those people hiding in the rooms. The most famous object is Anne's diary, which is preserved under glass and in a temperature controlled environment.
There is also the Otto Frank archive, a collection depicting Otto's life mostly after the war. Letters have also been retained from people who were touched after reading copies of Anne's diary or who had watched the play or film depicting the captives' lives in the 'SecretAnnex'.
After World War II, the building was in very bad repair and was due to be demolished. Fortunately, the people of the day realized the historical significance of the house and banded together to save and restore it.
The building became more and more popular with visitors once Anne's story became known throughout the world. In 1960, the house was officially opened as a museum. Over the years, visitor numbers continued to increase and further work had to be undertaken to renovate and extend the building, although the 'Secret Annex' was left in its original state.
A scale model made by Otto Frank gives the visitor a better perspective of the layout of the original building.
The museum is open daily, with opening a closing times changing depending on the time of year. Tickets are reasonably priced and can be purchased online or at the museum itself. Note there are no guided tours of this museum, mainly due to the lack of space. There are free guidebooks in a variety of languages, which you can obtain near the entrance. It is recommended to leave about one hour to tour the building.
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