With its 1.2 million annual visitors, the Anne Frank House remains one of the most visited institutions in the Netherlands. Why, then, dedicate two years of work and 12 million euros to its redesign? Probably because, for the younger generation, the memory of the tragic life of "Annelein" – as his father Otto called him – and his death in the Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany, "fades away".
"We wanted more, and better, to explain the story"says Ronald Leopold, the director of the Foundation. Since young Europeans are probably not fundamentally different from Americans, a recent study indicated that 70% were now never heard of Auschwitz. Believe that it was di "Uncertain times" that we live must push us "Remember, think, act", the director also does not hide his desire to contribute to the defense of values and the acceptance of differences.
The famous "Annexe" of the Prinsengracht of 263 was transformed into a symbolic place where the Frank family lived, from June 1942 to August 1944, a place of witness, education and information on the Holocaust and the extermination camps. . Without being another Holocaust museum, Mr. Leopold insists, but "With the desire to illustrate this dark period through the prism of a family".
If, at first glance, the building housed eight people in the rooms above and behind the offices of the Opekta Otto Frank company, detailed by Anne in her famous newspaper, it has not really changed, the management has dared some noteworthy transformations. The direction of the course has been reversed, the visitor can now benefit from explanations with an audio guide – which the Chamber had refused until then – the room that houses the newspaper It has been completely transformed to protect it from light damage and vibration. A new system also regulates the inputs (from 80 to 90 people per quarter of an hour) to remedy the long tail that characterized the place.
Quarrels of inheritance
The excitement is still very present for those who discover, for example, the pencil marks drawn on a wall to notice the growth of Anne and her sister Margot, until they are reported, arrested and promised a trip without return. The space in which the eight occupants lived, masked by a removable wardrobe, remained intact. And the rooms, emptied of their furniture after the arrests of 1944, remain as they are. The void obviously marked the departure of the occupants and also symbolized the fate of a capital that emptied 70,000 souls during the Second World War.