Like many people, The Diary of Anne Frank is the first book I can remember that gave me a hint of how unjust life can be and how cruel people can be.
I’ve lived in the Netherlands for ten months now, but other than going to the airport or changing trains, I’ve spent very little time in Amsterdam, where Anne Frank and her family hid for a couple of years during the war. When my parents told me they wanted to visit me and Smarty Pants, I knew immediately that it was an opportunity to visit the attic apartment that had lived in my imagination for decades.
The day started out in bizarre fashion. I hadn’t realized that it was Pride week in Amsterdam, or that the day we’d booked our tickets for was when there would be a Pride parade on boats down the canal in front of Anne Frank’s house.
We had booked our tickets to the Anne Frank Museum several days in advance (note to travelers: DO THIS. It saves you from standing in a massive line to buy tickets, and because the space inside is small they don’t seem to let everyone in at once). When we entered, we were warned not to take any photographs, so I’m afraid the only ones I can share with you are of people waiting for the Pride parade to start outside.
The apartment was above Mr. Frank’s business—a detail I’d forgotten since reading the book as a teenager. The strange thing was that when we were in the offices and storerooms—the areas the public knew about—we could hear the thumping music from outside. Very odd looking at photos of the families who hid while “It’s Raining Men” played in the background.
But once we passed through the bookcase that hid stairs up to the third floor, there was no longer any light or sound from outside. This part is at the back of the house and feels completely isolated from the rest of the world.