I am excited today. We have purchased the 48 hour Amsterdam pass which allows us entry to museums, metro and a canal tour. There are many museums to choose from, though with limited time we focus on the main events, Anne Frank house, Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum.
We have booked our time slot at Anne Frank house. For the first time in Amsterdam we have a deadline. We have allowed for an extra 30 minutes for getting lost and found and are prepared with a map, map app, and a rudimentary knowledge of the city.
We arrive at the train station, get on the correct train and soon are zipping towards downtown. We are impressed with ourselves and marvel that just the other day we were twirling around trying to figure out the right train, right platform and failing at this task.
We arrive at the main station and begin walking to our destination. I am fascinated with doorways and burn through our time cushion snapping one photo after another. John, ever patient waits until I’m satiated.
We arrive with minimal effort and on time, a small queue has assembled. It matters little as we hand over our time slot, we will all gain entry at the same time. As we stand in line, the West church chimes the quarter hour. During Anne Frank’s 25 months hiding in the attic she heard these same bells every 15 minutes signifying freedom gained.
I read the book as a young girl and related to her struggles as a young girl, her sister was bossy like mine, her parents didn’t understand. It is curious that I do not remember the war part, though likely it is because I had no frame of reference. I read the book again as a young adult and was horrified for the injustice, the need to hide, though was happy that there were people that helped to keep them hidden and provided necessities at great personal risk. My faith was restored in humanity in the second read. I read it again as a young Mother, this time with a knowledge of that dark history and cried that they were so close to surviving and wondering who betrayed them. I felt deep sadness for her father as the sole survivor, though awe at the resilience that had him create this place as a museum. I hope that he found peace. When reading WWII accounts, the sheer number of people murdered gets lost, though the story of this one girl provides an opportunity to understand the immense loss and extrapolate to all the lives that were lost.
The tour is difficult. It is very emotional for both John and I. We are not alone in our sadness. We look around , many tears are shed.
There are no photos that are allowed for much of the tour and for this I am thankful. This is a time for thought, absorption, and reflection. This is not a time for distraction. This happened, it is real and we must all be vigilant to make certain history does not repeat itself.
We complete the tour silent and stumble outside to sun and freedom. The bells chime. We feel heavy hearted as we walk around the neighbourhood and imagine the time, with the Nazi’s in power, not so very long ago. We talk about the daily fear in the attic, the need to keep quiet. We speak of how terrifying it would have been when they were found. We think of how close they came to surviving. We wonder how they were betrayed. We talk about Anne’s hope during this dark time, the impact she might have made and the impact that she made. Despite all her hardships, she still believed in the goodness in people and perhaps this is her greatest legacy.