As I am desperately trying to keep up with my new-found blog, and as I am having so much time to just sit and do nothing, it’s becoming more and more difficult to write even the shortest of sentences. I almost feel bad about not doing anything (talking about panopticism here) therefore, I have to do something.
And what better way than writing some lame posts? Read on.
About a week ago or so, I have decided to visit Anne Frank’s house. For those of you who are not yet acquainted with Anne Frank, she was a small Jewish girl who went into hiding for two years along with her family and some other family friends/relatives. If memory serves, there were 8 people in total.
And so, while hiding from the Germans in World War II, Anne Frank, a girl of only 13 years old, started a journal depicting her daily experience. Ranging from themes such as social and cultural identity to sexuality, Anne Frank’s journal is a strong piece of writing, especially for a girl her age. Months before the war ended, she and her family were captured during a morning raid, and sent to the concentration camps. Only her father, Otto Frank, survived.
It is easily understandable that her diary is a remarkable piece because, like many others, it offers a more hands-on, often romanticized image of what it meant to live in such horrific conditions. And if, like me, you believe that reading a book is not enough to fully understand its dimensions, being able to visit and experience a small part of Anne Frank’s biography is nothing short of spectacular.
It took around half an hour to bike there, and another half an hour of waiting at the entrance. As I was there, I kept repeating to myself that this will be a very powerful cathartic experience, because only I knew how I managed to place myself and endure waiting behind a resigned lady with three small and incredibly annoying children.
Moving away from the small talk, I entered Anne Frank’s house. To be honest, it felt a bit eerie as I was going up the narrow stairs, or the large and empty rooms. This strange aura was probably created (or reinforced) by the fact that it was the actual house where Anne Frank lived, breathed, and wrote her world-famous diary. The “hidden annex”, behind the book case, gave way to a decent place to live in. Even though I was expecting some terrible conditions, the 8 refugees were having a small house as a hiding place, even though the conditions gradually worsened as the war went on. Needless to say that all the windows were blanked, and all the connections to the outside world were kept to a minimum. As a side note, Anne Frank used to complete several school assignments, and then send them to her teacher where she would receive her grade afterwards.
I have an almost childish reaction of joy (I am aware that in the present context it’s not the best term to use) when I discover certain passages that have their “real” correspondent. In this case, the thing that I liked the most was the wall in her room where she glued a bunch of posters, so that she might have a form of comfort. It just makes you think how… despairing something like that must have been; having to fear for your own life day after day after day.
If it weren’t for her tragic story, Anne Frank’s house would have been somewhat of a let-down, in my honest opinion. That is something worth of considering, since the ticket is 9 euros (but come to think of it, how can you ticket something like that?). The house was mostly empty, with only a couple of big screens of her now-old acquaintances, a short interview with her father, and some background in WWII. Nevertheless, the “aura” was there, and for me, this is more than enough. There was a certain heaviness in the air, and a certain state of mind that you had to be into in order to fully experience the museum. I mean, I don’t think it can get more personal than that. Her drama is shared by millions and millions of people who died during the war. And from that point of view, The Diary of a Young Girl, the house, are nothing more than living items that once witnessed one of the greatest conflicts this world has seen so far.
Perhaps one of her quotes will be a suitable end for my long post. I am using this here just to make you understand the sort of message that she was trying to get through:
“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart“.