I likely first heard about the Diary of Anne Frank in grade school, though I don’t recall reading the actual diary. I never gave her much thought again until I happened to walk past the Anne Frank Huis, now a museum and major tourist attraction, on my first visit to Amsterdam in 2003.
At that time I vaguely understood the significance of this teenager who, along with her family and four others, hid in an attic apartment in Amsterdam during the German occupation in WWII.
Last year I discovered one of the most memorable albums in my collection–an album inseparable in my memories from a first year of art school, the closest of friends, drunk at 2am and commandeering East side house party stereos in order to belt out the lyrics and jump alongside of–i.e. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, is partially about Anne Frank:
The only girl I’ve ever loved
Was born with roses in her eyes
But then they buried her alive
One evening 1945
With just her sister at her side
And only weeks before the guns
All came and rained on everyone
— Lyric excerpt from Holland, 1945
When I was accepted as an exchange student at a design school in Holland earlier this year I realized I might have a more personal response to the story. So I read the wikipedia entry.
The Anne Frank story is the saddest and most uplifting story I know. And I haven’t read the diary yet. What really touches me is Anne’s extreme privacy over her journal (in one video exhibited at the Anne Frank Huis, Miep Gies recalls accidentally disturbing Anne in the act of writing in private, and the scowling response Anne threw her), her longing to be a writer, the death of her sister in the concentration camp, and days later, with no hope in sight, her own demise merely weeks before liberation. And more so, to me, the events after her death: Otto Frank the sole family survivor is given the diary and finds he never guessed at the depth of emotion and insight his daughter carried.
Most parent’s don’t know, really, their children.
— Otto Frank, on reading his daughter’s diary for the first time. Video excerpt at the Anne Frank Huis.
So I lined up at 9:00am with another 100 tourists at the Anne Frank Huis today. Photography was prohibited inside. The extensive documentation included apartment tenant logs, listing many as having ‘moved out’, reproductions of Anne’s movie star clippings and wall decorations, recipes, and finally the Nazi documents of their final capture; brief documentary interviews with survivors who knew the Franks; and the chance to tour the Secret Annex.
The following images are scans taken from memorabilia bought at the Huis gift store, including the latest edition of The Diary of a Young Girl, a bookmark, postcards of the original diary, and the entrance ticket: