"I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I'm free..."
As we stood in the long queue, I wondered why my friend J wasn't getting more agitated. Had this been a queue for a club in London or for the Ladies toilet in a bar, she would have at least tutted a few times. Instead, twenty minutes in and only half the necessary ground covered, she was calm and collected. I too was fairly unperturbed and even though I'm British and fairly good at waiting for things, I normally can find something to moan about to pass the time. However, I didn't feel I had any thing to whinge about. Or rather, I didn't have a right to whinge about anything. It would seem that even the queue on our way in to the Anne Frank Museum House had a strange spiritual effect on me.
Despite visiting Amsterdam many times before, I'd never visited the museum at 267 Prinsensgracht. And yet her book, her story, her legend had already affected me deeply, as I don't think it can fail to do to anyone who picks up and reads her story. A prolific diary keeper from aged 9 to my mid-twenties, Anne Frank is the reason I started to write a diary, as I'm sure she is to many millions of other girls. I suppose there is an element of diary-keeping in the blogging that I now do. Both have been wonderfully rewarding to me (if a little cringe-inducing and embarrassing at times) so aside from everything else she represents, I am personally grateful to Anne Frank and her diary.
"I don't want to live 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!"
Reading her diary as a young girl is, of course, a very different experience to visiting where it all took place as an adult. Not only is it more real, more raw and more outrageously horrific a tragedy, it begs questions of you as an adult that as a child you were oblivious too. Birdie aged 9 understood the sadness and the cruelty in Anne Frank's story. Grown up woman Bird now can't escape the overbearingly complex question of Why? Why and how did this happened and in my grandparents' lifetime?
Aside from fully appreciating the dark, cramped conditions in which Anne Frank, her mother and father, her sister and three others lived in the Secret Annex, deprived of the many freedoms I'm enjoying just writing this (fresh air, mobility, natural daylight), I gained a great deal from the insight this excellently and delicately arranged museum gave me about life in the Netherlands during the Occupation.
This then prompted me to head to the Dutch Resistance Museum a few weeks later. This superbly designed and crafted museum houses a thought and shock-provoking collection of facts, thoughts, artefacts and personal belongings, attesting to a series of events that all but transformed the country I am temporarily living.
"Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."
So why do I tell you about these museums without reviewing or offering in-depth detail or a review?
Because you must go and find it out for yourself.
If you're ever in Amsterdam I urge you to go. Not because it's on TripAdvisor's list of things to do but because I'm telling you that you will benefit from the experience.
The real reason I'm adopting this bossy tone is because of how Anne Frank (and the Dutch Resistance Museum) made me realise how far we've come, how truly incredible humanity is and how unstoppable love is.
Although atrocities darken many corners of the globe every day, I believe there are more flooded with light. It took a thirteen year old girl who dreamed of becoming a writer and falling in love to remind me of this. And should you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, you should let her do the same for you.
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
All quotes are Anne Frank, who was born in 1929 and died in March 1945, only weeks before the end of the Second World War.
Frances M. Thompson
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