1. A wax replica of Anne Frank (we found at Madame Tussaudes museum in Amsterdam)
2. The church she would peer out at from an attic window in her secret Annexe – when she talks about the church she can see in the published book – this church is exactly it.
3. A view of the house she hid in for all those years – view is from across the canals. The house is the one with the blacked out windows (the house is in it’s original form, they have just converted it in to a walk through ‘museum’ so to speak)
4. A close up of the house – the one with the blacked out windows. It was her fathers workplace and his boss, Viktor Kruger was the one who helped hide them for all those years (he was sadly arrested when they were betrayed & the Germans arrested them).
A very profound and emotional moment for me & Morgan but I am naturally more emotional than he happened the other day in Amsterdam … we visited Anne Franks house where she hid with 7 others during World War 2. Most can probably say the same, I know most who have travelled, more specifically to Amsterdam will have been to visit the same house & I’m sure had the same experience. But as with all things of the heart, we take different lessons away from the same experiences. And this was incredibly emotional for me and something I took huge lessons away from.
Here is the terrible part though, I’m going to embarrass myself more than you know right now with this admission… I in fact didn’t know she was so young, Morgan & I had thought, that she was older and helped hide others. When in actual fact, she was a mere child being hid by her fathers boss & associate. I also didn’t know she ended up getting captured, and dying in one of the worst Concentration camps of that time – Auschwitz Birkenau death camp. I thought she had lived, I thought she survived, that she was one of the lucky ones so to speak, that she had gone through her terrible experiences but lived to experience life again. But she wasn’t. She died alone, and starving, in horrors unimaginable.
I couldn’t contain my tears in the exhibition and was quietly crying most of the time.
Going through that house, being able to walk through the very rooms that she hid in with her family (& others) for so many years is haunting – the feelings in there are indescribable. You can be in the exact rooms that they lived in, walk through the secret door which led you up to their secret annexe, stand on the floors they couldn’t walk on for most of the 24 hours in a day for fear of someone hearing. It was astounding & heartbreaking all at the same time.
But what got me the most, was her diary. Her words, her insight, her wishes & dreams. That is what touched me the most.
Throughout the whole tour I had overwhelming feelings of gratitude. For my opportunities in life, for my family, for my freedom…& don’t get me wrong. I am acutely aware that in this day and age there are sadly, countries that still persecute for speaking your mind or being different – but for the majority, we are free.
And that’s just it…that’s what got me.
You see, the thing is, today, us young, free, fearless women have incredible platforms to share with the world our hopes & wishes & dreams. We aren’t subject to hiding in dark rooms writing in diaries as our only means of escape, not hiding away fearing for our lives – we have the right to express, to dream… to live.
There were many quotes from Anne’s diary throughout the ‘museum’ -they’ve turned the house in to a walk through museum- but there are 2 that resonated with me the most, and I believe will so for the rest of my days…
“When I write, I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revivied” – Anne Frank, 5th April 1944
“I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I’m free” – Anne Frank, 24th December 1943
It hit me in my soul – her greatest wish, was what I take for granted every, single, day. I can walk outside, breathe in fresh air, have the sun on my face, dance down the street, laugh with my loved ones. I am free.
What’s more, I can share this freedom with like minded people – I can blog. I do blog. And so do you. And that was a huge lesson for me. I have this platform to share things, personal things, not so personal things, whatever it is that is on my heart or in my head and that, is a responsibility I take very seriously. I was crying in that museum, not only for the incredible tragedy that I witnessed before my eyes in pictures and words – but for the freedom that I have to write, to share & to live. I realised that I am more lucky than I will ever truly realise, and that we each have a responsibility if we are writers or bloggers – and to not take that responsibility lightly.
“The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swooped through the air” – Anne Frank, 23rd February 1944
So go outside. Look up at your sky wherever you are in the world, take in a deep breathe – and be happy that you are free.