I like every other ten-year-old girl, read Anne Frank’s diary in grade school. As a tween, I connected with Anne as she crushed on Peter, reminisced about playing outdoors, and fought to understand better what was happening around her.
As a ten-year-old, I imagined Anne living in a tiny attic; one that had to be accessed through a crawl space and a ladder. I imagined her hiding spot to be dilapidated, cramped, dark and hobbled. As a boisterous young woman, I imagined Anne Frank living a life of silence, where any noise louder than a whisper could be lethal. In my mind, she existed in a world unfit for any child or teen.
It’s funny, as I write, I’m conjuring memories I made reading the book. In my imagination, I always pictured Anne hidden under a blanket as she scribed her thoughts with a flashlight.
As a ten-year-old, the complexities of politics and Anne’s life in a Nazi occupied state escaped me, as it did her. When I first read the book, I understood what happened, but I failed to understand how it affected the lives of those involved. I understood Anne, but I missed recognizing her father Otto and the workers who helped sustain the Frank household as the heroes of her story. Perhaps, that’s why Anne’s Diary is so powerful; her diary was written with the innocence of adolescence.
While in Amsterdam, we navigated the canals, bridges, and wondering side walks to arrive at Anne Frank’s house. (We came at a quiet time for the attraction, and the line up was quite long, be prepared to wait in line.) Inside, we purchased our ticket and walked through the bookshelf to arrive in the secret annex.
At first, I was surprised. The “Secret Annex” was a lot bigger, brighter, and more livable than I had imagined. I found it funny to walk through rooms that I had imagined completely different. As a child of means, when I first read Anne Frank’s Diary, I failed to realize the means her family had, and the work her father did to try to keep his family safe.
As I walked through the Annex, my heart broke for Otto Frank. I saw his character in a new light. I saw him fighting to protect his family. I saw him as internally hopeful, and I saw his hope of being reunited with his family his key to survival. I left Anne Frank’s house with wet eyes, and hope.
Anne Frank has a dream that one day she would be a writer, little did she know that one day she would be one of the world best know writers.
You can walk to the Anne Frank museum easily from the Central Station, it’s about a 20 minute walk if you (unlike me) know how to read your google map directions. The Anne Frank House is situated in the centre of Amsterdam at Prinsengracht 263-267.