January 4 and 5

5 Jan

(Written by Kelly Smith)

January 4: There is one Holocaust victim that everyone can relate to on some level. Her words have changed the way we perceive the constant fear and the unknown for those who lived in during this time. For two years and one month, the Franks, and a four other residents, lived in hiding from the Nazis. Today, we got to visit the secret annex.

We walked about 20 minutes from our hotel to bypass the already lengthy line at the entrance of the house. We learned that the entrance is located two buildings to the right of the actual house, and all three buildings are used for museum purposes. Our class came together to learn about the history of the Franks and how they eventually went into hiding. The building was home to Otto Frank’s jam making business. However, when the Nazis came to the Netherlands, he had to give his business to a fellow colleague. It turns out he also prepared the “Secret Annex” for almost a year before the family went into hiding. It was located on the third, fourth, and fifth floors of the back house of the business. There, the Franks and others in hiding spent their days in silence and utter anonymity. The account of these silent and shut-in days passing by provides us of what we now know as the Diary of Anne Frank.

Walking through the house was incredibly educational. We started in the museum portion, learning about the annex, the preludes to hiding, and personal accounts of those closest to the Frank family. Corresponding quotes from the diary cascaded the walls and put everything into better perspective. The annex itself was not quite what I expected. The curtains were drawn and it was dark inside, giving a more real-life illusion to what environment they lived in for over two years. After walking through the annex, the walk looped back around to information about what happened to the Franks after they were discovered. Some video accounts show interviews of people who saw Anne and her sister in the concentration camp. Anne died one month before the camp was liberated; Otto was the only Frank to survive. The tour then lead to the display of Anne’s original diary, and all the other notebooks and loose-leaf paper she used to write her story. She wrote the diary for the intent of having it be published, and today, the Diary of Anne Frank can be read over 60 languages.

We all surfaced to the daylight with an even greater sense of their ordeal. The line to go inside was probably a quarter of a mile long, so we were all thankful to have had reservations. The rest of the day was spent visiting some gotta-see-these-before-we-leave places, including the Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt’s House, the IAMSTERSAM sign, and others.

Visiting Amsterdam was a great location to kick-off this journey!


January 5: Today was a chill day for us. We woke up early, packed the bus and headed to Berlin! The drive took about 7 hours, however most of the bus was dead asleep for at least half of that time.

The drive across Germany reminded me so much of my home state of Ohio. It was cold and rainy the entire time and the landscape consisted of rolling acres of farm land, with small villages clustered together. Immediately, we could all notice the houses are different than in the states because the roofs are sharply pointed and are a rusty color orange. We also spotted the passage gates that divided East and West Germany. They remain as a memorial of sorts. The abandoned buildings looked completely normal to one’s eye, but their historical meanings hushed the bus as we drove past.

Another vast difference that I noticed on our trip was the extensive use of wind-turbines. Wind energy perceives to be a valuable source of energy for the Germans, and it was cool to see fields upon fields of these spinning turbines.  

After a long trip, we made it to Berlin! We are all excited to see what this great city can teach us.  




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