Anne Frank’s Legacy

Anne Frank House bookcase

Last week  marked the day 70 years ago when the most famous writer to emerge from the Holocaust was arrested. On August 4 1944, Anne Frank, along with her parents, her older sister Margot, and four other family friends who had been hiding with the Franks in the Secret Annex at the house in Prinsengracht in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam were taken away by the Gestapo after being in hiding for more than two years. They were sent East where, with the exception of Anne’s father Otto, all would meet their tragic and premature deaths.

Anne Frank house

Image via timesofisrael.com

I’ve read The Diary of Anne Frank countless times. It’s a book that never changes, whose sad ending always stays the same, and yet it’s a book that everyone should read at least once during their lifetime, if not more. Anne was only 13 when her family went into hiding in the summer of 1942. Like any 13 year old, Anne was sensitive, spirited, and often at odds with her mother. But unlike many 13 year olds, Anne would be forced to grow up overnight since her life depended on it. As you read the words of Anne’s diary, you will see Anne’s maturity take place on the pages in front of you.

While I undoubtedly would be thrilled to see famous sights in Amsterdam like the Rikjsmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, take a walk along its many beautiful canal-lined streets, eat rijsttafel, it is the Anne Frank house that I would like to visit the most. When I was 11 my first piano teacher embarked on a month long trip to Europe and included in his itinerary was a trip to Amsterdam. For my birthday that year he brought back a lovely book from the Anne Frank house that was basically a text and image based history of Anne’s life, along with side information on the events of the Holocaust.

Anne Frank House bookcase

Image via galleryhip.com

Many people don’t understand why a person would ever want to visit someplace “depressing.” The Anne Frank house definitely qualifies as such since out of the eight people that hid there for those two years, only one would survive after being interned in concentration camps. But to me “dark tourism” is one of the most important facets of tourism; learning from and understanding the past is imperative. This often is not done enough and horrific events do keep getting “repeated” in many parts of the world.

The sad thing about Anne and her story is that she was just one of more than one million children who died in the Holocaust. While her story is known around the world and will always will be thanks to her diary and the chance to visit the Secret Annex space, the vast majority of children who died in the Holocaust will never have their story known. But that doesn’t mean their memory is any less important.

Here are some wonderful children’s titles on the Holocaust:

Upon the Head of the Goat by Aranka Siegal

Touch Wood: a Girlhood in Occupied France by Renee Roth-Hano

The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender

The Endless Steppe: Growing up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig

Kindertransport by Olga Levy Drucker

Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti

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  • Reply
    August 10, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Great post. Visiting Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam is up there with my favourite travel memories. I hope everyone can visit it one day

    • Reply
      August 10, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks Amy! And thanks for commenting too!

      Every person that I know who has been to the AFH has said it’s been an incredible travel experience. Hopefully I can be part of that group one day 🙂

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Tasting Page
    August 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    What a nice tribute to Anne Frank. I have been to her house and I agree that it’s important to see. It is indeed somber, but it’s a sad story that’s good to remember. I hope you’re able to go someday to fully bring the book to life for you.
    Kelly @ Tasting Page recently posted…Guacamole Deconstructed & SkeweredMy Profile

    • Reply
      August 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Thanks Kelly. I find her words to be very powerful but I’m sure it’s even more so when standing in the annex and imagining her there.

  • Reply
    Jenn Turnbull
    August 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    A good reminder of the struggles so many faced during this time period. I totally agree that dark tourism is an important part of being a traveler and understanding history and the world. Sometimes it’s not the most fun thing to do, but I’m always glad I did it.

    • Reply
      August 10, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      To think that her story was just one of millions is what always gets me. I agree, there’s nothing “fun” about visiting places with a dark past and yet they are necessary, vital and enriching from an educational perspective I feel.

  • Reply
    Becca Niederkrom
    August 11, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Its always good to remember history. We live in a world where unfortunately history repeats itself and where leaders build fear in us to hate certain groups of people which then provides them with permission to start a war in many cases. Remembering that we are all loving beings that deserve life is essential.
    Becca Niederkrom recently posted…Chocolate-Covered Friday: 5 Recipes for the Chocolate LoverMy Profile

    • Reply
      August 12, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Beautifully said Becca! And I could not agree more.

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