A GIFT for her 13th birthday, Anne Frank’s diary has painted a human face on the Nazi occupation of Europe and the experience of Jewish families during the Holocaust for people all over the world. The tiny hidden space above her father’s office where the Frank family and four other people remained hidden for more than two years, has been shining another spotlight on racism and discrimination since the building at Prinsengracht 263 open as Anne Frank House in May 1960.
Hidden and protected by employees of Otto Frank’s business, the family were betrayed in August 1944 and sent to concentration camps. As was common practice, the Nazi soldiers confiscated everything that was found in the Annex; however, the same employees who had tried to protect them managed to sneak back in and rescue a small number of items; among them, Anne’s diary. At the end of the war, only Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam. Anne and her sister, Margot, along with their mother, Edith, and the four others hidden in the annex had all died in the camps.
In addition to publishing Anne’s diary, Otto worked to save the building where his family had hidden. Scheduled to be demolished to make way for new factories, Otto’s company managed to acquire Prinsengracht 263, but all of the other buildings in the block, upon which his own building relied for its structural integrity, were sold. In the end, it was a massive groundswell of public support, notably including the mayor of Amsterdam who wrote to all of the residents asking them to donate, that saved the warehouse and offices that had been their home. In 1957, the Anne Frank Foundation was established with the goal of opening the museum, and over the intervening years a number of restorations have been carried out to return the building to its 1940s state. Modern additions, such as plexiglass screens and an air conditioning system, preserve the valuable documentation and artefacts on display, and exhibition rooms and a cafe have also been opened in the building next door, to provide additional space to promote the museum’s messages of peace and justice.
More than one million people visit the museum each year, and the queues often seen wrapping around the block stand as a testament to the work Otto Frank did to protect his family and their legacy.
Physical address: Prinsengracht 263-267, Amsterdam
Phone number: +31 20 5567105
Business hours: 9am – 10pm April to October; 9am – 7pm (9pm on Saturdays) November to March; exceptions apply, check the website
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