Anne Frank House in Amsterdam was by far the most important part of my trip to the Netherlands. As a middle schooler in the United States, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl was the first account I read from the perspective of a Jew who lived during the Holocaust.
Anne’s story changed my life forever.
When I first learned that you can visit The Secret Annex as a museum, I instantly knew I wanted to go. I believe it is of utmost importance to remember the truth about past atrocities from the perspectives of the marginalized.
However, because Anne Frank House is such a popular museum, it is impossible to visit if you do not plan ahead. Here is my guide to how to plan for your visit, what to expect once you arrive, and my reflections on the experience.
How to Plan
Once I decided I was going to Amsterdam with my friend, Destiney, I booked our tickets to Anne Frank House within a couple of days. I knew the tickets would sell out quickly, and I really wanted to visit the museum.
In order to book, you must choose a time slot for entry. If you do not arrive within your time slot, then you cannot enter the museum. Because of this, I recommend you arrive at least 5-10 minutes ahead of time for your time slot.
I chose a late evening time slot that we agreed upon, somewhere around 8:30pm. Even though I was searching a month in advance, there were entire time slots already sold out!
It costs 10.50 euros per person, and you can only book tickets online. Your ticket includes an audio guide as well.
If you’re interested to learn more about Anne Frank’s life and the museum in her honor, you can find more on the museum’s website.
What the Tour is Like
Before arriving, I didn’t know what to expect from the tour.
First and foremost, absolutely no photos are allowed. I liked it better this way.
It is a self-guided walking tour, in which your audio guide will provide added information and brings you through the pathway of Anne’s life.
You will learn first about Anne’s family and their lives before the Holocaust began in their native Germany. The museum exhibit will also detail how and why they fled to Amsterdam.
Once you’ve walked through the rooms about Anne’s life before The Secret Annex, you will walk through The Secret Annex itself.
At the request of Otto Frank, Anne’s father, The Secret Annex has remained virtually untouched and maintained as best as possible to look the way it did when they hid there. I won’t detail here exactly how it looks now, because I don’t want to give any spoilers.
But, I can tell you that you will see things that directly match Anne’s diary. It was like stepping back in time to a day where people hid for their lives.
At the end of the museum visit, there is an exhibit of modern-day remembrance and a museum shop with copies of Anne’s book in several languages.
I was very mentally and emotionally tense throughout this museum visit. The content is so heavy, and it should be. We must remind ourselves constantly of what humans are capable of, and that this can never, ever happen again. To anyone.
This museum visit pushed me to learn as much as I can about the Holocaust from the perspectives of survivors and the fallen. Since my visit, I’ve focused on reading Holocaust accounts.
I highly recommend visiting this museum, but mentally prepare yourself before you go. The place you will stand was literally invaded by Nazis intent on exterminating Anne’s family, along with millions of other Jews.
That is absolutely not something to take lightly.
Your visit will feel solemn, contemplative, silent, and impactful for your own journey in life. Visiting this museum changed mine.
I wanted to share the short letter I wrote Anne in the guest book. It sums up my experience well:
. . .
A visit to Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is an important, poignant, heavy experience. And it’s necessary for us to go and see with our own eyes the truth of the horrors of the Holocaust.
When you go, be respectful, be reflective, and allow the truth of what happened there fully resonate with you.
I can be comforted in knowing that Anne’s dream was to be a famous writer.
She got her wish. And rightfully so.
If you’re interested to read more about the Holocaust, you can find some books here (affiliate links):
*Cover photo of the house exterior courtesy of the Anne Frank House Flickr page.
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