Meeting Corrie Ten Boom & Anne Frank in the Netherlands

During my last visit to Europe, I checked another country off my bucket list: The Netherlands.  Amsterdam–with its liberal,party atmosphere– is a must-see for most backpackers and I imagine Haarlem– a small,quiet town just minutes away–also attracts visitors in search of a quiet day trip or fresh tulips.

My reasons for visiting were a bit different. As usual, it had nothing to do with partying and everything to do with books.

“How often it is a small, almost unconscious event that makes a turning point.”–The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

About ten years ago my eighth-grade teacher assigned a book called The Hiding Place. It was about a Christian woman living in Haarlem who , along with her entire family, risked their lives to build a secret room in their home for hiding Jews  during the Nazi Occupation. After the family was arrested, Corrie was one of the few to survive her sentence in a concentration camp. She wrote a book about her experiences, opened several homes for victims of the Holocaust ( and their jailers ) and traveled the world  promoting her messages of acceptance,resistance, and caring for the needy despite the consequences.

The Hiding Place Museum

The Hiding Place Museum

The Watch Shop / house of refuge

The Watch Shop / House of refuge

The side entrance, often used to transport Jews and members of the underground

The side entrance, often used to transport Jews and members of the underground

Display case of news clipping, family photos, and WWII memorabilia

Display case of news clipping, family photos, and WWII memorabilia

Materials used feed those in hiding

Materials used feed those in hiding

The false wall and the hiding place itself

The false wall and the hiding place itself

The concealed entrance to the hiding place

The concealed entrance to the hiding place

The book left a mark on me. It was the first time I was exposed to the fact that emphasis on so-called “differences” could destroy humanity. It also stressed  the importance of sticking to your convictions– even if they go against the norm– and acting on them.

“When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived!”Diary of a Young Girl

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

About a year earlier,I had found a copy of The Diary of a Young Girl and devoured it in an afternoon. Again, the idea that perceived differences could be used to separate, and even murder, people scared and confused me. As an angst- ridden preteen who enjoyed writing, I identified with Anne Frank’s love for the craft and soaked up her family woes and budding romance. At times it was even easy to forget that she wrote the diary while fearing for her life.

Even though I couldn’t document my visit with photos (the no photo rule is strictly enforced), I remember climbing the steep staircases and stepping through the bookcase and into the annex vividly.The walls are tacked with information,photos, and mementos of the people who once lived there.A display cases houses the original plaid diary. I found Anne’s bedroom, decorated with post cards and posters of movie stars, to be just as it was described in the book. I also enjoyed the  interactive presentation viewers are treated to at the end of the tour. A variety of short videos dramatize modern-day cases of discrimination based on race,gender,religion, and sexual identity .At the end of the video, guests are invited to vote on how they would have handled the situations and are quizzed to see if they can find the sources . I thought it was a great way to convey that the same discrimination and ignorance that killed Anne and millions of other people is still raging today.

The Anne Frank House Musuem Photo Credit:thepinkexpat.com

The Anne Frank House Musuem
Photo Credit:thepinkexpat.com

On the walk back to my hotel that night, I marveled at the fact that , though her life and self-discovery was limited to a secret Annex, her reflections on life and people were positive.

20140428_183604

Anne Frank Statue outside of the Anne Frank House Photo Credit| thepinkexpat.com

Both the Ten Boom Watch Shop , (where the Ten Booms worked,lived and hid Jews) and the tilted row house flanking a canal( where Anne Frank, her family, and four others hid for more than two years) are now museums. Standing in these palaces where history took place,and where books that shaped me were penned and inspired, felt like a full circle moment.

Click the links for more information on the Anne Frank House or the Corrie Ten Boom Museum

 

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Meeting Corrie Ten Boom & Anne Frank in the Netherlands

  1. Pingback: Snapshots: Amsterdam & The Red Light District (And the FOOD!) | Girl and Her Pink Backpack

  2. Pingback: The Best Travel Moments of 2014 | Girl and Her Pink Backpack

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s