After the war, it was estimated of the 107,000 Jews that were deported from the Netherlands between 1942 and 1944 that only 5,000 survived. The Anne Frank Museum brings to life these numbers. The site is a huge tourist attraction—In 1967, Anne Frank House received a record 100,000 visitors. This total climbed to 250,000 in 1975. Just ten years later, the museum opened its doors to a half a million people. By 2007, it had reached the millionth mark.
The Secret Annex is where Anne Frank lived. Many visitors may wonder why the rooms are empty—it’s because the space is maintained in its authentic state. The Achterhuis (Dutch for "back house") or Secret Annex is the rear extension of the building. It was concealed from view by houses on all four sides of a quadrangle. Its secret position made it an ideal hiding place for Otto Frank, his wife Edith, two daughters and four other Jewish people seeking safety from Nazi persecution.
Though the total amount of floor space in the inhabited rooms came to only about 500 square feet it was very big compared to other hiding places they had heard about. They remained hidden here for two years and one month until they were anonymously reported to the Nazi authorities, and tragically deported to their deaths in concentration camps. Many visitors are intrigued at how the space was hidden behind a moveable bookcase.
Copyright Anne Frank House Photographer Cris Toala Olivares 2010
Besides the actual apartment where Anne Frank lived, visitors can also see lots of exhibitions. The latest exhibition portrays Anne Frank’s life story. Most of the images are from the Frank family’s photo albums. Chronological chapters connect the story of the Frank family to the bigger story—the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust. The heart of the exhibition is the ‘Gedankenraum’ – a spatial impression of the Secret Annexe in Amsterdam where the Frank family spent more than two years in hiding. Visitors also can view original diaries and samples that Anne wrote while she lived in the secret annex. There’s nothing like experiencing history firsthand.
To avoid an extremely long line, visitors can purchase tickets ahead of time online or at one of the Amsterdam Tourist Offices. These tickets will allow visitors to bypass the line but they also have to commit to going during a particular time.