Amsterdam is a city that I’ve visited many times. Being just 45 minutes flight from London means it a great weekend getaway city when you’re living in the UK. In fact, on one occasion I actually went there for a day trip with my mum and sister, leaving in the morning and returning in the evening!
Amsterdam is very famous for two things, the red light district and the ‘coffee’ shops. However, in my opinion Amsterdam offers so much more. Something that many people don’t know about Amsterdam is that it was also home to the incredible young lady, Anne Frank who wrote a diary while living there in hiding during WW2.
Visiting the Anne Frank Museum is both incredibly sad and incredibly inspiring at the same time. The museum will take you on a journey, teaching you about the Frank family and how they had started a new life in Amsterdam after leaving Germany in 1933. Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was running two very successful businesses and Anne and her sister Margot were very happy with their school life and friends they had made. In 1940 everything changed when the German occupation of the Netherlands began. Gradually, the Jewish community were forced to follow strict rules which included not being allowed to own businesses, not being allowed outside past 8pm, and the children having to attend special Jewish only schools. Anne Frank’s father was afraid of what would happen to the Jewish people under the Nazi occupation and decided to go into hiding in 1942. For almost two years, the family, along with another three people were hiding in a 500 sq feet secret annex. They were given food and supplies by Otto Frank’s employees who had offered to help them however in 1944 they were betrayed and were taken to concentration camps.
Only Otto Frank survived the concentration camps. The rest of the family sadly died while in capture. It is likely that Anne died of Typhus, the disease had killed around 17,000 prisoners in the camp. She died just two weeks before British troops liberated the camps in 1945.
The story of the Frank family’s time in hiding was recorded by Anne who had been keeping a diary. On her thirteenth birthday she had been given the red chequered book with a small lock and from then on had been writing about her life. Otto Frank returned to the house and found Anne’s diary which he later had published to allow the world to share their experience.
The Anne Frank Museum has attracted more than a million visitors from around the world. If you have the chance to visit Amsterdam I really recommend you go and see for yourself the place where Anne Frank and her family lived in hiding during this tragic time.
Being in Amsterdam isn’t all sad though, you will find some lovely restaurants and cafes (and I mean regular cafes, not ‘special’ cafes!) and a great main shopping street. The buildings sitting on the canals are very beautiful and if you explore the city on foot I’m sure you will be impressed. Schiphol Airport is also great and it’s very easy to reach the centre of Amsterdam by train as the station is located directly under the airport.
Also, if you like cycling you will love the city of Amsterdam, it is recorded that there are more bicycles in Amsterdam than permanent residents! In 2013, there were over 880,000 bicycles and over 58% of people there cycle daily!
So keep in mind Amsterdam isn’t just a place for hen nights or stag weekends, it’s a lovely city with a special history.