About Anne Frank’s House
Anne Frank’s house was the site where German Jewish teenager and Holocaust victim Anne Frank, her family, the van Pels family and later a man called Fritz Pfeffer went into hiding from the Nazis during World War II.
Although known as Anne Frank’s House, the site was originally her father’s office building and all eight inhabitants lived in a secret annex in the attic hidden by a moveable bookcase.
Anne Frank’s House history
Anne Frank was born in the German city of Frankfurt am Main in 1929. Due to the rampant antisemitic sentiments in Germany, Anne’s parents, Otto and Edith Frank, decide to move to Amsterdam. There, Otto founded a company that traded in pectin, a gelling agent for making jam.
On 1 September 1939, when Anne was 10 years old, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and so the Second World War began. Not long after, on 10 May 1940, the Nazis also invaded the Netherlands. Five days later, the Dutch army surrendered. Slowly but surely, the Nazis introduced more and more laws and regulations that made the lives of Jews more difficult.
When Anne’s older sister Margot received a call-up to report for a so-called ‘labour camp’ in Nazi Germany on 5 July 1942, her parents were suspicious. They did not believe the call-up was about work and decided to go into hiding the next day in order to escape persecution. In the spring of 1942, Anne’s father had started furnishing a hiding place in the annex of his business premises at Prinsengracht 263. He received help from his former colleagues. Before long, they were joined by four more people.
On her thirteenth birthday, just before they went into hiding, Anne was presented with a diary. During the two years in hiding, Anne wrote about events in the Secret Annex, but also about her feelings and thoughts.
When the Minister of Education of the Dutch government in England made an appeal on Radio Orange to hold on to war diaries and documents, Anne was inspired to rewrite her individual diaries into one running story, titled Het Achterhuis (The Secret Annex).
Anne started rewriting her diary, but before she was done, she and the other people in hiding were discovered and arrested by police officers on 4 August 1944 and subsequently imprisoned in concentration camps.
Despite the raid, part of Anne’s writing was preserved: two other helpers took the documents before the Secret Annex was emptied by order of the Nazis.
Anne Frank died in Bergen-Belsen in March 1945, but her diary was later discovered by her father and published to worldwide acclaim.
People all over the world were introduced to Anne’s story and in 1960 the hiding place became a museum: the Anne Frank House.
Anne Frank’s House today
Until his death in 1980, Otto remained closely involved with the Anne Frank House and the museum. He hoped that readers of the diary would become aware of the dangers of discrimination, racism, and hatred of Jews.
The museum allows visitors to see the moving bookcase, walk through the cramped secret annex and gain a true appreciation of the hardship this group endured in their fight for survival.
The museum displays many original letters, photos and objects belonging to the Frank family as well as to the van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer. Anne Frank’s original diary is also on display.
Getting to Anne Frank’s House
The Anne Frank House is located in the city centre of Amsterdam, at Prinsengracht 263-267. The entrance to the museum is around the corner, at Westermarkt 20. It is a 20-minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station. Alternatively, take tram 13 or 17 and get off at the Westermarkt stop.
As the capital of the Netherlands and with more than a million people living in its urban area, Amsterdam is packed with historical sites that are well worth a visit.
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