Anne Frank House – Annual Advice 2017

Riding my bike along Keizergracht last night I noticed a very long queue and decided it’s time to issue my annual (well, almost annual) advice on visiting Anne Frank House.

Here’s the queue – at least 250 people waiting in line to visit.

They have changed their system since I last wrote about this so here’s the up-to-date advice.

You can buy tickets for a specific time-slot online, the entry time will be between the museum opening and 3.30pm. These tickets are released two months in advance.

If you can’t get an online ticket you can queue for door ticket, these allow entry from 3.30pm until 30 minutes before closing (10pm from April to October).

The ticket price is 9 Euro for an adult and 4.50 Euro for a child between 10-17 (and free for the under 10s).

You can find more details on the Anne Frank House website. If you can’t manage a visit to the annex, there’s a wonderful 3D version online that you can explore.

The museum is going to be extended in the coming year so be prepared for some disruption as a new entrance and facilities are built.

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The Anne Frank House

annefrankhouse_bookcaseI’ve lived in Amsterdam for a long time, but despite living within a 10 minute bike ride I have only visited Anne Frank House once.

The museum encourages you to buy tickets online, in fact from 9am to 3.30pm you can only visit the museum with a ticket purchased online for a specific timeslot. From 3.30 onwards you can queue and by a ticket at the door, fair warning – the queues get long.

The museum has been developed around the Annex where the Frank family was in hiding, and my visit takes me through the rooms they occupied. The annex has been carefully preserved and the famous bookcase entrance has been reconstructed.

You do get a feeling for the claustrophobic lives of the attic’s eight inhabitants, as you go through the Frank’s family room, Anne’s bedroom, and the Van Pels rooms. It was interesting seeing the “real thing”, including the pictures Anne chose to put on the wall and the notes in her own writing.

After you’ve been through the family space there is an area for more exhibitions where you can learn more about the occupation of Amsterdam and how Jews hid around the city to stay safe. There is a movie playing that includes an interview with Miep Gies – one of the Dutch people who helped supply the families with food.

If you can’t make it to Amsterdam you can take a virtual tour of the house online, complete with close ups of various artifacts and details of each room.

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-17-08-41I’d read Anne Frank’s diary as a child, and I’ve seen numerous images of the annex. I think the familiarity of the story and the annex meant that it didn’t have the emotional impact I’d expected. However as I was leaving the museum there was a glass case, and in the case was one of the yellow stars that Jewish people in the Netherlands had been legally required to wear, and I caught my breath. In the grand scheme of things this is perhaps the least of the wrongs, but as a symbol of all the injustice it remains powerful. Any time the government tries to make one group “other” we should be concerned.

The other thing that got me, but in a more hopeful way, was a glass bookcase showing the versions of Anne Frank’s diary in all the translations, there were about 40 different language represented (apparently it’s been translated into 67 languages). And suddenly I saw why Anne Frank’s memory is so important.

There’s a famous quote, often attributed to Stalin,

The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.

It’s very hard to comprehend the sheer scale of the holocaust, the total death toll is usually given as 11 million; that’s Moscow, or Greece, or New York + Chicago, or 3 times the population of my home country. We can’t empathise with a statistic. But when we read the story of one young woman, who happened to be born of a certain religion in the wrong place at the wrong time, then we can understand the tragedy.

 

Images;

Anne Frank bookcase  |  By Bungle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Holocaust badge for the Netherlands |  Holocaust memorial

R.I.P.

I encountered a lost tourist on my way to work this morning, she was looking for Anne Frank House. I mentioned that Miep Gies had died overnight, but added by way of explanation “the woman who saved the diary for Anne Frank’s father”.

Well of course Miep Gies did much more than that, she was part of the network of people supporting the Frank family and all those living in the annex at 263 Prinsengracht for the two years before they were betrayed.

After the family were taken from the Prinsengracht house Miep Gies collected up all the papers from the diary and protected them, her wish was to return the papers to Anne Frank after the war, but it was only Otto Frank, Anne’s father who survived and returned to Amsterdam where he lived with the Gies family for many years. It was to him that Miep returned the papers.

She helped assemble and edit the first diary, and over the years spoke out about the holocaust, she was consistently modest about her own contribution saying  that other’s had done as much or more in protecting and supporting Jewish families.

Miep was the last living connection with the Frank family, she will be remembered and honoured in the Netherlands. Rest in Peace.

A Rose for Anne Frank

I took this photo last week, on Thursday. I noticed a soft pink rose attached to the statue of Anne Frank.

I’ve only just realised that the flower would have been placed there as part of commemorating Yom Kippur.

The statue is used in official commemorations on Remembrance Day, and I often see flowers laid near the statue.

Remembrance Day

Today is the day that the Netherlands remembers all those who died in the second world war. The biggest ceremony was on Dam Square in the centre of Amsterdam, where members of the royal family laid wreaths, and the mayor of Amsterdam gave a speech.

Representatives of the returned services were at the ceremony and also laid wreaths, but the whole commemoration is remarkably un-militaristic.

One of the nicest things about the ceremony is that young people are involved, most notably the winner of an annual poetry competition reads his or her poem as part of the ceremony.

Last year, or possibly the year before, a specific reference was made to also commemorate Germans who had died in the war, it was controversial, but does mark a change in Dutch feeling. Most Dutch now believe that Germans should be welcomed at remembrance day ceremonies.

In my neighbourhood there are a couple of places with significant historical links to the second world war. There were flowers by the Anne Frank Memorial this morning in preparation for tonight’s ceremony, and another set of flowers by the memorial on the Noordermarkt commemorating the general strike.

All ceremonies across the country
include two minutes silence. The observance of this is taken so seriously that the trains stop and no planes land or take off from Schiphol. Bars will shut off the music, TV stations broadcasting the service also fall silent, and people will even pull over and stop their cars for the two minutes. It’s an eerie feeling, everyone is very solemn for those two minutes. Everyone.