If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that I have recently enjoyed a trip to Amsterdam. If your new to this blog, you have some catching up to do, please look back at the archives, because you have missed much. Don’t worry, you can catch up, we will wait for you. My fascination with Art Galleries, Museums and such is well documented. Today I want to tell you about another Museum in Amsterdam. However this museum doesn’t have any fantastic, world renowned art on the walls, nor does it have any furniture to sit on and contemplate what the artist was thinking when he or she drew or painted that masterpiece. In fact this museum has nothing in it, except a story.
This is a museum about war, peace, lives lost and history chronicled. This is about the Anne Frank House, a museum with a story
In the United States we are taught much about the history of WWII. We are also taught about Anne Frank’s Diary and how it chronicled the life and times of a jewish family in hiding to save their own lives from the Nazi’s. Although it has been many years since my school days and learning about Anne Frank, you simply don’t forget the basic premise of the story and history. However I did forget many things. Somewhere in the back of my mind I believed that Anne Frank and the Frank family found hiding in some building in the outskirts of some town in Germany, with no one around and no one close enough to find them, which as we know is not the case, they were found, betrayed actually. But not in Germany. No all of this took place in the center of the wealthiest part of Amsterdam, Netherlands. A large metropolis at the time in the early 1940’s.
|Front View, Anne Frank House
What you are about to read from this point forward is not my writing, it is the writings derived from the Museum itself. It is a sort of chronicling of the story of Anne Frank and the Frank Family. I have learned in my travels around the world, that history is all around me, sometimes you have to stop to get a refresher course. I hope that if any of you ever find yourself in Amsterdam that you will make this museum a priority stop.
|Back View, Anne Frank House
Anne Frank was one of the millions of victims of the persecution of the Jews during WWII. She lived in Germany when, in 1933, Hitler came into power and installed an anti-Jewish regime there. For their own safety, the Jewish Frank family fled to the Netherlands. However in May, 1940 the German army occupied the Netherlands and repressive measures against Jews followed here as well. The Frank family hoped to escape these by going into hiding.
Otto Frank, his wife Edith Hollander and their daughters Margot and Anne took up residence in this building on the Prinsengracht on July 6th, 1942. Later on, Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their son Peter and Fritz Pfeffer joined them in hiding.
The building that hid the Franks, Pels and Pfeffer is comprised of two sections. The front part of the house and the back part, referred to as the Annex. Otto Frank’s company was located in the front part of the house with the warehouse on the ground floor, and the offices and storeroom upstairs. The warehouse ran all the way through the building, extending under the Annex out back. On the upper floors of the Annex, eight people lived together in hiding. After more than two years, they were betrayed and deported. The Nazi’s ordered the emptying of the Annex and all the furniture was hauled away. For this reason, it was Otto Frank’s wish after the war that the Secret Annex remain unfurnished.
|Cut Away of the Anne Frank House
Anne Frank kept a diary the entire time she lived in hiding. She mostly wrote about her personal thoughts and feelings, the isolation, and the constant fear of being discovered. Anne’s diary was first published in the Netherlands in 1947. It has since been translated into more than 65 languages. Although this building is not furnished as it was then, what you will find are original pages from Anne’s diary, carefully preserved for future generations, along with photos of Anne and her family, the Pels and Pfeffer taken in 1942.
One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we’ll be people again and not just Jews! We can never be just Dutch or just English, or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. But then we’ll want to be.
Anne Frank, April 9th, 1944
Otto Frank owned two companies. One firm sold Opekta, a jelling agent used to make jam. The other firm, Pectacon, later called Gies &amp; Co. produced seasonings for preparing meat. A section of this warehouse was also a milling room where the spices for these mixtures were ground. The warehousemen did not know about the people hiding in the Annex upstairs.
We have to whisper and tread lightly during the day, otherwise the people in the warehouse might hear us.
Anne Frank, July 11, 1942
After May 1940 good times rapidly fled: first the war, then the capitulation, followed by the German invasion which is when the sufferings of us Jews really began. Anti-Jewish decrees followed each other in quick succession and our freedom was strictly limited. Jews must wear a yellow star, Jews must hand in their bicycles, Jews are banned from streetcars. Jews may not visit Christians, Jews must go to Jewish schools and many more restrictions of a similar kind. So we could not do this and were forbidden to do that.
Anne Frank, June 20, 1942
The office personnel helped the people in hiding by bringing them daily food supplies, books and newspapers. Victor Kugler’s identity card and the film magazine he regularly brought along for Anne can be seen in the display case, Kugler was officially the director of Gies & Company. because starting in 1941 Jews were no longer allowed to own businesses. Otto Frank subsequently registered his companies under the names of Victor Kugler, Jo Kleiman, and Jan Gies (Miep’s husband), but Otto remained acting director. He consulted daily with Kugler and Kleiman, also after he went into hiding. Anne and Margot sometimes snuck down to the office to help with the clerical work.
On thursday night I was downstairs with Father drawing up the debtor’s lists in Kugler’s office. It was very creepy down there and I was glad when the work was finished.
Anne Frank, November 7, 1942
Margot and I have declared the front office to be our bathing grounds. Since the curtains are drawn on Saturday afternoon, we scrub ourselves in the dark, while the one who isn’t in the bath looks out the window through a chink in the curtains.
Anne Frank, September 29, 1942
Miep Gies, Bep Voskuijl and Jo Keiman worked together in this office they had to continue their everyday business activities and not let on that there were people hiding upstairs in the Annex. Miep Gies took a special care in bringing to the Frank’s and others in hiding items that they needed, food, hygiene items, magazines etc.
Miep has so much to carry she looks like a pack mule. She goes forth nearly every day to scrounge up Vegetables and then bicycles back with her purchases in large shopping bags.
Ann Frank, July 11, 1943
I saw two Jews through he curtains yesterday, it was a horrible feeling, just as if I had betrayed them and was now watching them in their misery.
Anne Frank, December 12, 1942
Countless friends and acquaintances have been taken off to a dreadful fate. Night after night, green and gray military vehicles cruise the streets. It’s impossible to escape their clutches unless you go into hiding.
Anne Frank, November 19, 1942
Below is the only known video of Anne Frank. It is only about 20 seconds long, Anne is in the video for maybe no more than 5 seconds, however it is considered an amazing find.
This is post #1 of a 2 part post about the Anne Frank House, please come back to read the final post.
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