An early awakening this morning was not the way to start the day; groggy, tired, hungry, and caffeine-less was a mixture that has the potential to lead to an awful morning. That would quickly change. The morning was shortly followed by a visit to the Anne Frank House. Immediately after exiting the tram you could see the line form the entrance stretching around the block. We were fortunate enough to have front-of-the-line passes to allow us to enter the museum as a group. One of the first things upon entering the museum, before entering the warehouse (house), was a large quote on the wall dated 11 April 1944 by Anne Frank: “One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we’ll be people again and not just Jews!” This was a bit overwhelming. Much like other places all over the world, equality is not a basic human right. Many nationalities, genders, and religions are viewed as inferior or second-class citizens; much like the Jews during World War II. This was a quick taste of her life and other Jews during this period. They wanted nothing more than just to exist, unbothered, and equal.
I’m sure many of you know the highlights of Anne’s life and the struggles of being Jewish during this era, so I’ll spare you the history lesson. The tour starts at the bottom of the house where the warehouse was. No worker was aware of the hiding place, with the exception of the office staff. The second floor is where the offices were, and the third was the storeroom where the product was housed. The third floor had a secret, actually a “secret annex,” that two families were hiding in the back section of the house. A movable bookcase that concealed a small door, disguised access the annex. The moment I broke the plane of the small door, which I even had to duck to get in, it felt surreal where I was. This is where the Frank’s and others hid for two years; quietly, secluded from society, with very little room and diminishing supplies.
This secret annex composed of two stories, smaller than a dorm room on each floor, which housed a family and other inhabitants. After seeing these living conditions and reading quotes of the daily struggle from Anne’s diary, many emotions flooded me. When I finally made it to Anne’s room the emotions become very clear, it was humbling. This was a very sad and tragic set of events that has bruised history forever; you couldn’t help but feeling humble and thankful for how well we actually have it. It’s almost too much to take in at once; such an intense moment in history staring you in the face showing it’s magnitude.
On 4 August 1944 the house was raided and the following month the eight inhabitants were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. As the allied forces closed in on Germany, many Jews were sent on death marches or other camps to meet their fate. On January 1945, Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz but the only survivor was Otto Frank. Anne died March 1945 due to typhus in Bergen-Belsen camp; she died slightly prior to liberation thinking that she as the only survivor of her family. Otto Frank later return to Amsterdam to publish her diary.
The last exhibit in the museum was Anne’s original diaries, including the first she received when she was 13 and subsequent diaries and collection of stories. Anne always had aspirations to become a famous writer, which was new knowledge to myself, and she unknowingly did just that. Reflecting on this whole tour was a bit overwhelming, yet informative. A visit to this museum will definitely make most people, even the coldest at heart, feel some sort of felling’s; it’s inevitable. This is a must see museum.
Closing, I would like to point out how much of a black eye genocide is to society. I would like to think we have evolved from that, but how far away are we from it? There are radical Islamic terrorist that would love nothing more to round up non-Muslims, even some other Muslims, and decapitate us one by one. I’m aware calling all Muslims terrorist is like calling all Christians Klan members; one person doesn’t reflect the whole group. My point is that there are individuals, and substantial amount of them, that still foster the ideas of genocide. I just think it’s up to society as a whole to ensure this atrocity doesn’t happen again; especially that it’s us with the target over our head, just like a gold star.