Anne Frank's House - now a museum - sits along this street in Amsterdam. Photo by Angela Hill

Anne Frank House

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Most young women will remember reading Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, when we were in high school.

Her words stay with me even today – she was so wise for her age:

“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death,” she wrote.

“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”

Even when I was young, I remember how her story struck me as so unfair. Anne and her entire family were cooped up for so long, being caught after fighting for survival for years, and then her dying a month before the concentration camp was liberated.

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Naturally, visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam was the most important stop on my trip to the city. While I am very glad I walked through her house, it wasn’t as emotional or heartbreaking as I imagined it might. The volume of people shuffling from room to room prevents one from getting lost in the experience. Unfortunately not everyone is respectful of where they are, so the house was noisy.

All that being said, I am incredibly glad I made the visit and grateful for what I learned – it is a reminder of how lucky we are to experience peace (those of us who do).

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The layout of the house is well done with the original decorations up in the rooms. Photographs just inside the doorways show what the rooms looked like when they were full, but they stand empty now, making room for the line of people to snake their way through.

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After you leave the two floors where the eight people hid and move into the rest of the museum, there is a presentation on what happened to them after they were caught, and a brief glimpse of Bergen-Belsen. Of the eight, Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was the only one to survive.

The most poignant moment for me was the diary itself. Anne Frank’s diary lay open on a table, encased in protective glass for display. When one reads the book in school, you know it is someone’s diary and the story it contains is real; but it’s not until you see the pencil writing on the unlined pages, with the homemade plaid cover, that one really understands and it all hits home.

For that moment alone, the museum is more than worth the visit.

On a cold winter night, we lined up for an hour in the wind to get into the museum. The understanding is that it closes at 7 p.m. with the last time you can get in at 6: 30 p.m. We made it through the door just before the cut off.

It turns out you can also buy tickets online through the website to go in after 7 p.m. (and eliminate the wait).

Pro tip: check the website and book a specific time to go.

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