The Anne Frank Huis is the "secret annexe" where Anne, her family, and several others hid in order to avoid being taken to Nazi concentration camps. Eventually the annex dwellers were betrayed and most of them, including Anne, died in concentration camps.

The Huis is now an incredibly moving museum; don't go there without a willingness to remember and be again horrified by the Holocaust.

I've been to the Museum in Amsterdam. I'm not too sure what I was expecting to see. I remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank as a teenager and finding it rather heavy going.

One of the last days of my first visit to Amsterdam we decided to visit the museum. It's not hard to get to after all, we reasoned, and it seemed like one of those places you more or less had to visit. We'd done the red light district and the coffee shops to death by that point.

I remember being a little surprised at how close to everything it was. It stands in quite a nice part of the city, overlooking a canal. Perhaps I wasn't expecting it to be quite such a tranquil place, I'm not sure. It certainly wasn't what I'd pictured in my mind after reading the book all those years ago. I couldn't picture Nazi troops walking down the street on which I was queueing, hard as I tried. It just seemed somehow wrong that such a monument to the horrors of the holocaust was such a sterile, calm and peaceful place.

Inside is all wrong, too. I'm sorry to say that it didn't impact me in the way I expected. It's a little bit too clean, too modern. Almost as if they've completely swept away the ugliness surrounding the place, hidden away the reminders of the fear and terror of the people who called the place home for so long behind the sterile polished wooden floors, black and white photographs and recorded AV presentations.

If I go to a concentration camp I don't want to see a five star hotel in its place. I want to see a concentration camp. I need to feel what it might have been like to be packed into a small room like a rodent with sixty other people, fearing for my life. The same is true for Anne Frank Huis. It's big, open and clean, it smells pleasant, it feels modern and comfortable. It's a little too easy to forget where you are when you're inside.

It does contain a gallery of wartime horrors, but you can go just about anywhere to see that.

Further to semprini's description of Anne Frank Huis, I disagree with the way in which they dismiss the building and museum.

It is true that it is sparsely furnished and one should not expect to wander into a quaint mock-up of exactly "how it would have been". This is totally understandable however, when one considers the tiny area the families had to live within. Had the rooms been maintained with furniture it would have been impossible for any great number of visitors to see the rooms or move about in them. They are NOT big as previously described. I'm sure the previous occupants would not describe them as big. The rooms are not completely without character - Anne's room is covered with cuttings and pictures she had glued on the walls with her own hands. You can stand by the same window she did and look out through the cracks of the black-out curtain. All it takes is a little imagination (although perhaps a failing commodity in the days of shortened attention spans).

Anne Frank Huis lies on the Princes Canal, and the area around it is indeed very pretty. However, to suggest that such a place "seemed somehow wrong" as a place for a monument to the horrors of the holocaust is a somewhat sort-sighted view to take. Fascism and violence take hold in the most beautiful and unlikely of places. In fact, part of the affecting experience of visiting the building is in its simplicity. There is no hyperbole or overly cheesy trappings. Because everyone knows what happened - in the end - the place is undercut by a dark feeling that does not need to be made explicit or gratuitously apparent.

In 1960 the building was made into a museum and the building next door was subsequently converted into an extension of the museum. Visitors enter through this second building and then work their way upwards through Anne Frank Huis, entering the Secret Annex itself through the same hidden doorway still complete with false bookcase. Having gone through the hidden rooms, one returns through into a new part of the museum featuring various artefacts (including the actual diaries themselves) and videos including an interview with Otto Frank, Anne's father. There are also letters written by him that chronicle his attempt to find his children and ultimate despair when he discovers they are no more.

Semprini's main objection with Anne Frank Huis seems to be that it did not provide them with what they would consider an "authentic" experience of the Holocaust. At the risk of being somewhat churlish, I feel the need to ask the question, just how authentic would one like one's Holocaust experience? Seeing your parents getting dragged away? Or perhaps being stripped naked and pushed into what you think is either a gas-chamber or a shower? Obviously not that authentic (I hope). Anne Frank Huis does not pretend to be anything more than it is and is a simple building where a handful of people lived exceptional lives for several years.

Buildings of historical significance to the Holocaust are not rides designed to give the "Holocaust experience". However, it clearly appears that some visitors lack the required imagination to link the place with people and events without the help of some visual clues or material objects. The way in which sites of the Holocaust are viewed by the general public is questionable, especially when it is considered that most people who visit them do so whilst on holiday, as though as a tourist attraction. Morbid curiosity is no doubt a major motivation for many. But then if such motivation and visitors result in awareness of and knowledge of the Holocaust surviving in a stronger form, then perhaps this is no bad thing.

If people visit Anne Frank Huis and come out unmoved, then people should not worry about it. It is after all only a fairly bare building and it's understandable. But don't then complain that it wasn't hardcore enough for you. THAT would be insulting and ridiculous.

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