Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Amsterdam: The Anne Frank House

I have wanted to visit the place Anne went into hiding since reading her diary in grade school. They actually went into hiding in the annex of her father's office building, a beautiful house on a canal side street in the most beautiful part of Amsterdam. At night, the only time they had a chance to breathe fresh air, they could look out the attic window and see the church tower in this picture.

Anne's room was so small and dark. It depressed me to think of her never seeing the sunlight for over two years. The wallpaper was ugly but she hung newspaper clippings and photos up on it to brighten things up, just like any teenager would. But the darkness (because the windows were still darkened like they had them 60 years ago) and creakiness of the floors weren't the thing that hit me most. What affected me most was the fact that it was a beautiful house in a gorgeous area. You don't really get that from the book, even though you know her father was a successful businessman. But it didn't matter that they were rich and educated people. Discrimination doesn't care.

The other main thing that hit me was reading the Nazi's list of people that they took away with the Franks. In a column next to everyone's names, it listed their profession. Anne's father was listed as a "Kaufmann", a salesman. So somehow, the Nazis did keep track of who could do what, but in the end it didn't really matter I guess. But what scared me was that now knowing German, I just read through it, almost forgetting it was a foreign language. And that freaked me out too. I can now understand the language of the Nazis. Not a pleasant thought.

But then I realized that I must separate the language from the Nazis themselves, as it is always only a few people that are truly evil that make everyone else look bad. Just like I don't want people to think that because I'm American I support George W. Bush. I am grateful that others separate a country from their government. So like Anne, I too must come to the conclusion that in general, most people are good.

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