I spent today looking round people’s houses. Namely, Rembrandt’s and Anne Frank’s. I hadn’t intended to write so much about the war on this blog, however the Anne Frank House is notable enough to deserve its own post.
Number 263 on Prinsengracht, Amsterdam was the office of Otto Frank, manager of a small jam manufacturing firm. He and his family moved to Amsterdam from Frankfurt in 1933 after the Nazis rose to power, fearing persecution. After the Nazis occupied the Netherlands and inflicted hardline antisemitic regulations, the family was forced to go into hiding in the achterhuis or ‘backhouse’, a three-storey extension behind the office accessible only by a single door. This was made for an ideal hiding place as the backhouse was not visible from the street, and for extra security the door was later covered by a bookcase.
Otto’s daughter Anne kept a diary of her time in hiding, intending to publish a novel of her experiences when the war was over. Sadly, she and her sister Margot, and her mother Edith, and six million other Jews like her, died in the Holocaust; in 1945 the Franks and another family living with them were betrayed and sent to concentration camps. Only Anne’s father survived the war.
Her writings stand as a permanent testament to the dangers of fascism, and the importance of tolerance and freedom.