After spending a semester abroad in Amsterdam and living a few blocks from Anne Frank’s hiding place, I’ve spent some time to reflecting on Anne’s life in Amsterdam. I would bike past the Anne Frank museum multiple times every day on my way to the Albert Heijn, the train, or university. In the shadow of the imposing Westerkerk, the museum has maintained its humble canal house facade.
You can make out the museum from afar by the tell-tale line that stretches around the block. I imaging that the cafe on the same corner must be one of the most profitable in Amsterdam.
I often wondered about the gads of tourists who flocked to the house everyday. Had they read Anne’s diary in middle school? Were they Jewish? Did they simply see the line and hop in? (Something I would undoubtedly do). Anne has become a celebrity and tourist attraction, as well as a point of Dutch pride. There are new productions of her story all the time, including one in St. Paul, starring my friend Sulia, who studied abroad in the ‘Dam with me.
Her story resonates as strongly with us today as it did when it was first published. It is an exploration of what it is to be young and alive and longing for something bigger than oneself. Anne’s reflections, emotions and yearnings reach us today through the many museums, shows, and retellings of her story. She reminds us that the past is precedent, so we had better take note of the lessons that she teaches.