Sunday, October 29, 2006

Anne Frank Haus

It just boggles the mind when you walk around beautiful Amsterdam and then step back and think about the atrocities that took place here not that long ago. When I looked at this reminder of Anne's life and death, I couldn't help but notice that my mom was five years old when Anne was born. All of this took place in her lifetime. Astonishing.

When it comes to matters such as these, I can hardly hold back the tears when I think of us, as humans, having the ability to hurt other people in ways so horrific. How can one human being treat another as if their life is meaningless? I can not grasp that and I find it extremely hard thinking about the holocaust. When the Holocaust Museum opened in Washington, DC, I was unable to visit. I cannot bring myself to witness these visions. (I do, however, talk openly with my kids about such things. They need to know and learn from these horrible acts.) And so, when it came to visiting the Anne Frank House, I have to admit, I had my reluctance. If it had been in the United States, I would have pushed it off and said, "next time." Since I never know when and if I will return to a city, I try and take in as much as I can. The Anne Frank House was a must even thought it tore me up inside. Even now, as I write this, tears flow down my cheeks; and perhaps this is why I have put it off so long in writing.

Amsterdam is an absolute lovely place to visit. All of the canals are so beautiful, intwined throughout the city. Some of these pics are the kid's. I think he has a really good eye, don't you? All of the canals in these pictures are located around the "Secret Annex," one directly in front of the warehouse. It's these beautiful sights that help make Anne's years in the "Annex" so poignant. Here was a child, a teenager, with a world just outside her windows unable to enjoy the sights, the smells, the feelings. Two years cooped up. Simply remarkable.

The warehouse is unassuming. You wouldn't even know what it was if it weren't for the line to get in for the tour. We were told to come after 4 to avoid a long line. We only had to wait 30 minutes or so before entering. This statue of Anne is located just before the row of buildings the warehouse is located within. Just on the other side of this alley is a beautiful old, huge, church. This carving was located on one of the eves. I thought it was quite appropriate.

Anne could look out a window, head turned, and see the steeple of the church. Even though it was obviously a Christian church, I can't help but wonder if she looked out the window and prayed to God with this visual.

To give you an idea of the warehouse and annex, I copied this from one of the many books and postcards we purchased there. It took this diagram for me to understand just where I was in the building. The floors in green are the "Secret Annex."

263 Prinsengracht
This is the front of the building where the warehouse was located. The "Annex" was located in the back, on the right here--I borrowed this pic. As you walk through, as a self-guided tour, I actually didn't realize I was walking from the front of the building to the back. It was later that I figured out the annex was located in the back. The stairs are tiny. (I

noticed this all over Amsterdam. The staircases are extremely narrow and steep because the buildings are the same. (There were some restrooms in cafe's I refused to visit because of this. I could see myself falling down them and making a complete fool of myself!) There were no pictures allowed, so, again, I am borrowing some. You can see by this picture of the staircase how steep it is. Amazing. It is here that the staircase hidden by the bookcase is.

The rooms were surprisingly large with big windows. I'm sure they had to keep them covered, though. Anne's bedroom was one of the smallest. She later shared this with Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist. (Peter's room was the smallest out of all of them because it had a ladder going up to the attic right in the middle of it. I ran my hand over the well-worn wooden slats and said a prayer for all their souls.) The old clippings were still on the wall that she had decorated with. I couldn't help but run my hand over areas I knew she had touched to feel her. There was a game board that Peter had received as a birthday present while in hiding still hanging on the wall. Life went on here, despite the fact they feared for their lives each moment of their existence here.

Once you finished in Peter's room, you walked across a glass floor passage back towards the front of the warehouse where they displayed different items about the concentration camps. The room was floored and walled in stainless steel which made it very cold. It was quite emotional to go from an area of life into what was sure to be cold facts of their deaths after being turned in.

After this room, you went back downstairs to a room that housed the diaries and other displays. I didn't' know that her diary was the same as many I had growing up, complete with lock and key. When she filled this one up, she began writing in tablets of paper. The diary, in itself, brought Anne into my heart. This could have been any child during that time. But, it was Anne who brought this story into our lives, so vividly, in her writings. I wish she would have survived. Although, if she had lived, millions of people wouldn't have been able to feel the true inhumanities of the times. We have to feel she was given to us by God for a short amount of time for this reason. I am humbled by her life and death.
"It'’s a wonder I haven'’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.

It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more" - July 15, 1944
Here are two links you may be interested in looking at:

The Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam

The Anne Frank Center

We must always remember.


Mrs. Staggs said...

You've written a beautiful post Rosa and the photographs are truly wonderful.
I would write more, but there are no other words to say really. Thank you for the obvious care you've taken to express the truth and the hope found within Anne
Frank's story.

Becca said...

This is a phenomenal post ... I, too, can not bring myself to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington because man's inhumanity to man is heartwrenching ... and the pictures stay with me forever. But, your post is so very meaningful and it is so right to remember.

Beth said...

Excellent post Rosie,,Loved it. Its so hard for me to think about dear Anne and about the horrible things that happenned during that time. I can't imagine the terror that so many people lived through.
Thanks for sharing that part of your trip, I know it was hard.

Peggy said...

I am glad you shared that visit with us. I too could never get the nerve to go in person. I read the book and saw the movie years and years ago. It broke my heart to see how she had to live her life. So many people have suffered so much for senseless ideals. It hurts now seeing the photos but it also helps us not to forgot.

Lisa (oceandreamer) said...

I have quite a bit about Anne Frank and have seen the movies. A friend of mine was there not that long ago and sent me a book from the museum. This is a story that can never be forgotten and neither can those that came from the horrifics of the Holocaust. I am deeply interested in the history of all that because if we don't remember, if we hide from the facts of it the lives lost are truly gone. If you haven't yet heard of or seen a documentary called "Paper Clips" please rent it. It's incredibly moving and I literally SOB each time I see it but the message is one of hope and rememberance. Thank you for sharing your first hand experience visiting the Annex.

paris parfait said...

You've captured the importance of Anne's story so beautifully in your account of your visit. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings, as well as the photos.

Shell said...

Wonderful post. May we never forget what happened and the Franks bravery. Thank you for this and sharing the wonderful photos of your journey.

Janet said...

You write with such feeling about this and I understand your reluctance to visit the museum. I read Anne's diary when I was just about her age, and it has stayed with me through all these years. I, too, cannot comprehend the way man can hurt others in such grotesque ways. Will we never learn?? Violence only begets more violence.

Connie and Rob said...

Dear Rosa,
Such a lovely written post. I almost feel like I was on the tour with you. Thank you so much for sharing such an emotional time. I went to The Holocaust Museum by myslef when I was in DC and it effected me very much how you felt here. It really is appauling how man can hurt another human being just for being different.


Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

Beautiful post Rosa. I watched Oprah one day and she went to the worst concentration camp along with a man who had been in it. It was the most ghastly thing I`d ever seen. I can`t even write what they showed, it`s just too terrible. I wish I could remember his name. He was an incredible man.
There must be some syncronicity going on here because I just posted something I`d had saved about a man in a concentration camp.
Enjoyed looking at all the pictures of your trip!


PEA said...

I've always been fascinated by Anne Frank and her story, ever since I read her biography and saw a movie about her many years ago. I cried then and I cry now, thinking of the life she was endured to live and yet still having faith in human kind. I don't know if I could ever bring myself to go into her "house"...I know I'd be bawling like a baby through it all:-( Thank you so much for sharing this very touching visit with us...we will never forget Anne Frank!! xox

Tammy said...

Very well done post, Miz Rosa!!
I'm a day early but...
I'm Elvira, I do what I want dahling!!
Trick or Treat!!

Michael Manning said...

What a moving and beautiful tribute. I'm very glad I came by. I had linked you a short time back, and I'm glad I did. Stop by and read about Sahara on my site and you will also see there is mercy still left in the world yet! Thanks for giving all of us a GREAT POST!

FarmgirlCyn said...

Thank you, Rosa. May we never forget.

slap me happy said...

hi Rosa, nearly in tears here, lord we have so much to be thankful for , the story of her life is one of my favourite books. We had to study it for english at school and it tugged at my heart even then. A lot of my ancestors were jews, so it hits home. wonderful post, well put together, thanks so much for sharing your trip with us all
your friend shona

Linda said...

I was just at the very moving memorial here in Paris to those who died in concentration camps. It is so hard to believe what people will do to other people--and that there are those who claim it never happened.

Ez said...

Synchronicity in deed! Today I was flipping through an old issue of O Magazine and saw an ad for Oprah's (then upcoming) visit to Auschwitz. So I can tell you that this man's name is Elie Wiesel (tea & margaritas in my garden)...

This was a truly moving post and I too felt as though I was walking the tour with you. Thank you for bringing it to life for us. It is unfathomable that human beings could ever commit such horrendous acts upon men, women, and children… but if it happened then, it could happen now. Though it pains us deeply… may we never forget, so that such a tragedy will never occur again in our lifetime or the next.

Thank you.

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