The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

Anne could see this view of Westerkerk (church) from attic window

After leaving the rooms where Anne and her family lived in the annex, the tour then proceeds up a very steep staircase to the third floor above the ground floor, or what Americans would call the fourth floor. On this floor, there is a large room, 16 feet by 13 feet, which was used as the living room, dining room, and kitchen as well as the sleeping quarters for Mr. and Mrs. van Pels. Their son Peter slept outside this room, in the 10 feet by 6.5 feet hallway space, which has a ladder up to the attic. The attic is not on the tour, but a mirror has been placed so that it reflects the attic room, which measures 16 feet by 20 feet. The ladder up to the attic has been closed off by a piece of glass or plastic which has been affixed to it to prevent anyone from climbing up it. The attic was used by the 8 people in hiding for storing food and for hanging up their laundry. According to Anne's diary, the roof of the attic leaked.

After about a year in hiding, Ann and Peter became good friends and they would go up to the attic to hang out together. There are two very large windows in the attic of the annex, one overlooking the courtyard in the center of the block, and the other overlooking the 12-foot space between the annex and the main building. The photograph above was taken from ground level, but it shows the side of the Westerkerk which could be seen from a third attic window, which was very small.

The small hallway space where Peter slept has a window with a tiny iron balcony, barely big enough to stand on. The balcony overlooks the narrow open space between the main building and the annex. One could stand on this tiny balcony and enjoy the fresh air, while being completely hidden from view, except for the occupants of the annex behind 265 Prinsengracht. From the balcony, one could easily climb onto the roof of the 2nd floor passageway between the annex and the front building. There was no connecting passageway from the third floor to the annex and no rear windows in the main building on the third floor. If Peter ever went out onto the balcony or the roof, Anne never mentioned it in her diary. She described Peter's small room in great detail and remarked upon the expensive rugs on the floor, but never mentioned the window nor the balcony.

The large room on the third floor, which was used as a communal room, was furnished with a sink built into a cupboard that is still in the room. The cupboard is painted light yellow with blue trim around the doors. The sink counter looks like it is made of stone, which was common back then in Europe. Behind the sink, the wall is covered with metal, instead of the usual ceramic tile which is used today. The one faucet in the sink was only for cold water, as there was no water heater to provide hot running water. Near the sink is an iron stove (like a pot-bellied stove except that it is square), which has a stovepipe going through the wall into the chimney for what was formerly a fireplace. The mantle of the fireplace is still on the wall. Cooking was done on the two open burners on the top of this stove. Anne mentioned in her diary that the stove was also used to burn the garbage, and that the stove was first used in October, after the occupants had moved in during the month of July in 1942. The stove used coal which the occupants got from the coal supplies for the main building.

When the Franks were in hiding in the annex, the communal room on the third floor was furnished with a large dining room table and eight chairs in the center, where they took their meals. A large rectangular chandelier, of the style associated with Frank Lloyd Wright homes, hung over the table and the floor was covered by an Oriental rug. The room has exposed beams on the ceiling, as does Peter's hallway space. All of the occupants of the annex helped with the cooking and cleaning; they even made jam from fresh strawberries, according to Anne's diary.

The top floor of the annex was not originally connected to the main building, but it is now. An enclosed passageway with glass walls and roof has been added so that visitors can now walk from the annex to the main building to see the exhibits which are on the top floor. Through the glass of the connecting passageway, on the left-hand side, one can see the same view of the Westerkerk that Anne and Peter could see from the small attic window.

In the glass passageway there is a poster with a quotation from Anne's entry into her diary on October 9, 1942, regarding the gassing of the Jews:

"The English radio says they're being gassed. I feel terribly upset."

The following quotation, which proves that the gassing of the Jews was well known, even at this early date, is from a footnote in The Diary of Anne Frank, the Critical Edition:

In June 1942 the British press and the BBC began to refer to the gassings in Poland. Thus the 6 p.m. news on the BBC Home Service on July 9, 1942, included the following item: "Jews are regularly killed by machinegun fire, hand grenades - and even poisoned by gas." (BBC Written Archives Center, Reading)

When Anne wrote on October 9, 1942 in the original diary (the one that she had received for her birthday in June 1942), she did not mention the gassing of the Jews. The entry on that date mentions only that Miep had told her that Jews were being "dragged from house after house in South Amsterdam." Anne's original entries are called version A in the Critical Edition. The quotation that is in the glass passageway is from version B, which is the diary as rewritten by Anne between May 20 1944 and August 4, 1944, and published in the Critical Edition in 1986. Version C in the Critical Edition is the diary as edited by Otto Frank who chose entries from both version A and version B, publishing it as "Het Achterhuis" in 1947. In 1952, version C was published by Doubleday & Co. in America under the title "Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl."

As published in The Critical Edition, the following is Anne's entry for October 9, 1942 in version B, the rewrite, which is also used as the entry for that date in version C, which was published in 1947 by Otto Frank:

"If it is as bad as this in Holland, whatever will it be like in the distant and barbarous regions they are sent to. We assume that most of them are murdered. The English radio speaks of them being gassed; perhaps that is the quickest way to die. I feel terribly upset."

Shoes and clothing of prisoners who were gassed in Auschwitz

Photo Credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The photograph above is from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The caption says that these shoes and this clothing was taken from Jews who were sent to the gas chambers in Auschwitz. Among the displays on the top floor of the Anne Frank House, there is a similar photograph which shows prisoners at Auschwitz sorting a huge pile of shoes in one of the clothing warehouses. The caption says that these are the shoes of the Jews who were gassed.

There is a photograph of Hermann van Pels on display in the exhibits at the Anne Frank House and the text accompanying it says that he died in the gas chamber at Auschwitz in either September or October 1944. Mr. van Pels was the youngest of the three adult men in the annex; he was born in 1890 and was a year younger than both Otto Frank and Dr. Fritz Pfeffer. The exact date of his death is apparently unknown but there is no doubt that he was gassed. Some sources say that he was gassed immediately upon arrival. In her book entitled "Anne Frank, a biography," Melissa Müller wrote the following:

Peter seems to have worked in the camp post office and he held up well. His father, however, like Otto Frank and Fritz Pfeffer, was assigned an outdoor job. When Hermann injured his finger, probably in early October, he gave up and asked his kapo to assign him to a barracks detail the next day, even though he must have known how dangerous that was for anyone who, like himself, was injured or in ill health. And indeed on that very day, the SS made a clean sweep of the barracks. Selection. Hermann van Pels fell victim to this arbitrary system.

In a book published by the Anne Frank Stichting in Amsterdam in 1966, entitled "Anne Frank, A History for Today" there is the following quotation from Otto Frank regarding the selection of Hermann van Pels for the gas chamber:

And I'll never forget the time in Auschwitz when seventeen-year-old Peter van Pels and I saw a group of selected men. Among those men was Peter's father. The men marched away. Two hours later a truck came by loaded with their clothing.

Anne's original diary, the one with the red, white and beige plaid cover that she received for her 13th birthday, is on display in a glass case in an exhibit room in the 265 Prinsengracht building. The book is open to a page from October 1942 that has a photograph of Otto Frank which Anne had pasted in, along with several tiny portraits of herself on the opposite page. Unfortunately, visitors cannot see the cover of the diary, nor the lock on the front of it. The book is almost square and very small. It is the kind of book that young teen-aged girls used back then as an autograph book to pass around among their friends who would write poems in it. Such autograph books were also popular in America at that time. Anne began writing in this book on June 12, 1942 before the family went into hiding. She continued to write in it until December 5, 1942, but left some pages blank, which she then went back and filled in during 1943 and 1944.

Anne's second diary is a school exercise book in which she wrote from December 22, 1943 until it was filled up on April 17, 1944. Also on display is an 8 and 1/2 by 14 inch accounting ledger in which Anne wrote "Tales and Events from the House Behind." These stories were published in a slender volume called "Tales from the Secret Annex" by Doubleday and Co. in New York in 1983. According to the book, the longest of the stories is a tale from World War I that Otto Frank had told his daughter. Otto Frank incorporated four of the "events" from the account ledger, which describe life in the annex, into the diary which he published in 1947.

The third and last of Anne's diaries is another school exercise book, in which she began writing on April 17, 1944. The last entry in this diary was on August 1, 1944, three days before Anne and the others in the annex were arrested by the Grüne Polizei (Green Police). When Anne began rewriting her original diary she used loose sheets of paper which Bep brought up to her from the office. There were around 300 of these loose sheets of paper. One of these pages is on display; the paper appears to be a sheet of 5 by 7 inch stationery, the kind of paper that was typically used in those years to write personal letters, although Bep later referred to the paper as "copy paper."

There is a short movie clip in the exhibit which shows a train filled with Dutch Jews leaving the transit camp at Westerbork, bound for the death camp at Auschwitz. The film shows Jewish men wearing suits and hats as they board the freight cars. Inexplicably, the men are smiling and the soldier who closes the door of the car is also smiling. This is obviously a war-time propaganda film produced by the Nazis.

There is a book on display which lists the names of all the Dutch Jews who were deported. There were around 140,000 Dutch Jews deported and few of them survived. In addition, there were around 20,000 stateless German Jews like the Franks, who had escaped to the Netherlands, but had not become Dutch citizens. The text of this display says that "103,000 Dutch Jews died in the Nazi extermination camps." (The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC gives 107,000 as the total number of Dutch Jews who died in the camps.) Around 25,000 of the Dutch Jews went into hiding and approximately 17,000 of them were able to hide from the Nazis until the end of the war. Approximately 20,000 Dutch Jews survived the concentration camps, including around 2,000 in the Star Camp in Bergen-Belsen. Several of Anne's childhood friends were at Bergen-Belsen, including some who were in the Star Camp. It was named that because the Jews in this camp were allowed to wear their own clothes with a gold star sewn on, instead of the usual striped prison uniforms.

Bergen-Belsen was originally set up as an Aufenthaltslager or a transit camp for Jews who were waiting to be sent to Palestine in exchange for German citizens being held in internment camps by the Allies. Since the wealthy Amsterdam Jews were good candidates for exchange, they received better treatment at Bergen-Belsen than the Jews in the other concentration camps. Ironically, if the Frank family had not gone into hiding, they might have been sent to the Star Camp because Otto Frank was a business man who would have been a suitable candidate for exchange. Otto Frank was a veteran of World War I and the Austrian police officer who arrested him commented that he would probably have been given preferential treatment because of this. Instead, when the Frank family arrived in Westerbork they were assigned to the punishment commando and were given the worst work assignments.

Anne Frank is listed in the book under her full name, Anneliese, which was spelled Annelies in Dutch. The book says Annelies and Margot both died on March 31, 1945. This date was assigned to them by the International Red Cross, although witnesses who were at Bergen-Belsen said that Margot died first and that Anne died some time before the end of March. Bergen-Belsen, the camp where Anne died of typhus, was voluntarily turned over to the British Army on April 15, 1945.

There is a documentary film clip in which Anne's childhood friend, Hanneli Goslar, talks about being in the Star Camp section of Bergen-Belsen right next to another section of the camp where Anne and her sister were imprisoned. In the film, Hanneli tells about throwing a Red Cross package over the fence to Anne. Since prisoners in the Star Camp received preferential treatment, Hanneli Goslar was able to survive. Hanneli said that Anne was too disheartened to hold on until the liberation of Bergen-Belsen because she mistakenly believed that her beloved father was dead. Otto Frank was 55 years old, a year older than Hermann van Pels, when they arrived together at Auschwitz, but for some reason, her father had not been selected for the gas chamber, as Anne had assumed.

Prisoners at work in a factory in Auschwitz

According to the book by Melissa Müller entitled "Anne Frank, the biography," Peter van Pels, Otto Frank, Dr. Fritz Pfeffer and Hermann van Pels were all assigned to work in the main camp at Auschwitz. Peter was given a job in the camp post office and the other three were assigned to manual labor. The following quote is from Müller's book:

By November 1944, Otto too, had reached the limit of his endurance. Already weakened by hard work and hunger, he was beaten by his kapo. After that, he no longer had the will to get up. What happened to him next he described in a letter of July 1945 to his mother: through the intersession of a Dutch doctor he was admitted to the hospital and remained there until the camp was liberated by the Russians on January 27.

After the war when Otto Frank had finally made his way home from Poland, arriving in Amsterdam on June 3, 1945, he went to the home of Miep and Jan Gies, where he stayed as their guest for the next 7 years. Otto knew that his wife had died of tuberculosis in Auschwitz on January 6, 1945, but he didn't yet know that both of his daughters were among the 35,000 prisoners who had died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen during the months of February and March 1945. Two months later, after it had been determined that Anne had not survived, Miep Gies turned over to him all of Anne's writings which she and Bep had found on the floor in the annex after the police left.

According to information given to visitors at the Anne Frank House, Anne heard on the English radio on March 28, 1944 that after the war there would be a collection of diaries published and this was what prompted her to rewrite her diary. During the period from May 20, 1944 until her arrest on August 4, 1944, Anne rewrote all the entries in her original diary up to and including her original entry for March 29, 1944, the day before she began writing with publication in mind. According to Anne's own words, her goal was to convert her diary into "a novel about the Secret Annex."

Anne was planning to hide the identity of the characters in her novel with fake names. Anne Frank was to be Anne Robin, the van Pels family was to be called the van Daan family, and Dr. Pfeffer would be called Alfred Dussel. The helpers Kleiman and Kugler would be named Koophius and Kraler. Bep would be called Elli. In the published version of the diary, only Miep is referred to by her real name.

On May 11, 1944, Anne wrote in her diary, regarding her ambition to become a famous writer:

"You've known for a long time that my greatest wish is to become a journalist some day and later on a famous writer. Whether these leanings towards greatness (or insanity) will ever materialize remains to be seen, but I certainly have the subjects in my mind. In any case, I want to publish a book entitled Het Achterhuis after the war. Whether I shall succeed or not, I cannot say, but my diary will be a great help."

On May 20, 1944, Anne wrote in her diary regarding her plan to rewrite her original diary:

"In my head it's already as good as finished, although it won't go as quickly as that really, if it ever comes off at all."

According to the museum exhibit, Otto Frank organized Anne's papers and typed up what she had written. The pamphlet handed out at the museum says:

For making a transcript of Anne's diary notations he uses Anne's loose-leaf pages as the starting point.

Otto Frank took some entries from each version which Anne had written and combined them into the final version, which he published in June 1947 under the title that Anne had chosen: Het Achterhuis (The House Behind). One of the 1,500 copies that were printed in the first edition of the diary is on display at the museum.

Otto Frank used his own judgment in editing his daughter's writing: he left out a few pages, added a few words here and there and changed a few sentences. He also made corrections in grammar and punctuation with the help of others whom he consulted.

All three versions of the diary can now be read simultaneously in The Diary of Anne Frank, the Critical Edition, which was prepared by the Netherlands State Institute for War Documentation and copyrighted in 1986. This is a huge volume, weighing about 10 pounds, which contains diary entries that Otto Frank left out of the original version because they contained embarrassing sexual references. The book also contains the results of an extensive handwriting analysis which established once and for all that the diary is genuine, and not a fake as some neo-Nazis and revisionists have claimed.

Among the items on display in the top floor museum are letters which Otto Frank wrote to his family members, after he returned from Auschwitz. He was destitute and badly in need of money, according to his letters. Also on display is a tiny date book, the size of a pocket address and telephone book, in which Otto Frank made notations.

On June 25, 1947, Otto wrote the word "BOOK" in this date book; this was the date that Anne's diary was first published in the Netherlands. Her diary was originally written in the Dutch language and the first edition was published in that language. Anne's diary has been translated into more than 60 different languages, and it has become world famous.

Anne Frank has become a symbol for the millions of Jews whose lives were cut short and whose potential was never realized. It is hard to fathom six million Jews being murdered by the Nazis, but Anne Frank has made it easier for people today to comprehend the concept of one Jew being killed six million times.

Copies of the book in all the different languages are on display in a glass case. In a documentary movie, which is shown at the Anne Frank House, Otto Frank says that he was amazed by the depth of Anne's emotions when he read her diary because she had never talked about her feelings. He also didn't know, until he read it in Anne's diary, that his daughter Margot was also keeping a diary while the family was in hiding.

Although there have been several investigations, it has never been determined who betrayed the Franks. There has been some speculation that the guilty person was a man named W. G. Van Maaren, who is referred to in the diary as V.M. In 1943, Van Maaren replaced Bep's father as the warehouse foreman. The Nazis were offering a reward to anyone who turned in the Jewish families who were in hiding, and as the war progressed, this became more and more tempting to the Dutch people who were suffering great hardship. If Otto Frank had any knowledge about who betrayed his family, he never sought revenge and did not reveal any information about what he knew.

Otto Frank also did not seek revenge against Karl Silberbauer, the Austrian police officer who arrested the occupants of the annex on August 4, 1944, accompanied by several Dutch Nazi police officers. The number of Dutch officers varies from 3 to 8, depending on who is telling the story. Silberbauer was an officer in the Sicherheitsdienst or the SD. This was the German Security Service. The Dutch officers were Nazi collaborators who were also members of the SD. The eight people in the annex were arrested, along with their helpers, Jo Kleiman and Victor Kugler. All were taken to the SD headquarters in a school building on Euterpestraat in Amsterdam, and on that same day, Kleiman and Kugler were taken to a prison in Amstelveenseweg. The 8 people in the annex were taken to Westerbork, from where they were transported to Auschwitz. Their Westerbork registration cards are on display in the museum.

At the time of the arrest, the police officers thoroughly ransacked the annex and confiscated all the valuables. Anne's papers had been stored in her father's briefcase, which the police dumped out onto the floor so they could use the briefcase to carry away more valuable things that they had found. After the police left, the papers remained scattered on the floor, as they apparently didn't realize that the diary and all the notebooks and loose sheets of paper might contain incriminating information about who had helped the Franks while they were in hiding, or even the names of other Jews in hiding. Miep Gies, who was mentioned as one of the helpers, did not read any of Anne's writings, after she and Bep retrieved the diary. If she had, she might have destroyed Anne's writings because both she and Bep would have been arrested if the diary had fallen into the hands of the police. Margot's diary was apparently never found.

Later, the Nazis came back several times and took all the furniture out of the hiding place. Today tourists see only the empty rooms, just the way they were left, after the Franks were arrested.

According to the exhibits at the Anne Frank House, the 8 people in the annex were taken on September 3, 1944 to Auschwitz; this was the 83rd and last transport of Jews from Westerbork to Auschwitz. There were 1019 people on this train: 498 men, 442 women, and 79 children. Of these people, 549 were gassed immediately upon arrival, including all the children under 15 years of age, according to the museum brochure. Anne barely made the cut, since she had just turned 15, only three months before.

The photograph below, which is displayed on the third floor of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, shows the original affidavit signed by Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höss on May 14, 1946, which was presented at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal where Höss testified as a defense witness. Höss was not the Commandant during the entire time that the death factory at Auschwitz-Birkenau was in operation. In May 1944, Hungarian Jews were gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau during a time when Josef Kramer was the Commandant of the Birkenau death camp.

The caption of this photograph reads

On May 14, 1946, Rudolf Hoess, the former commandant of Auschwitz, signed a declaration stating that during his tenure in office, 2 million Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz and another 500,000 killed in other ways. Hoess overestimated the number of Jews gassed by about 1 million.

Jews arriving at Birkenau death camp and original affidavit signed by Rudolf Höss

Photo Credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Dr. Fritz Pfeffer, the dentist who shared a room with Anne in the annex, died from sickness and exhaustion in the Neuengamme concentration camp on December 20, 1944 according to the museum. He had been sent to several other camps after he arrived at Auschwitz, finally ending up at Neuengamme.

Auguste van Pels was "dragged from camp to camp," according to the museum brochure and she died "sometime between April 9th and the 8th of May 1945 in the vicinity of Theresienstadt." Mrs. van Pels was transferred first to Bergen-Belsen with a group of 8 other women on November 24, 1944, then to Buchenwald and finally evacuated to Theresienstadt. Her son, Peter, was one of the 60,000 prisoners on the death march out of Auschwitz when the camp was evacuated on January 18, 1945. According to Melissa Müller in her book "Anne Frank, the biography," Peter had found a protector at Auschwitz. The following quote is from her book:

After the selection on their arrival in Auschwitz, Otto Frank, Hermann and Peter van Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer had all been sent to Block 2 in the main camp, Auschwitz I. They were lucky. One of the senior men in that block was Max Stoppelman, whose mother's apartment in South Amsterdam Jan and Miep Gies were renting part of. Otto Frank had placed the classified ad that had led Miep to Mrs. Stoppelman, and he had gotten to know Max on that occasion. With the help of Jan Gies, Max and his wife, Stella, had gone into hiding with a Dutch family in Laren in the fall of 1943, but six months later they had been betrayed and arrested. Peter van Pels, too, became friends with Max Stoppelman, a short man of about thirty with the shoulders of a wrestler. [....]

Max Stoppelman's protection and tutelage had obviously benefited Peter, who seemed surprisingly well nourished. Peter came to the infirmary to see Otto for the last time in mid-January 1945. The camp was being forcibly evacuated, Peter told Otto. Both he and Otto had to leave. Max assured Peter that if Peter stuck with him on the journey he would come through fine. Otto tried unsuccessfully to convince Peter to stay.

Peter survived the death march and eventually wound up in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, but he died on May 5, 1945, on the very day that the camp was officially liberated by American soldiers.

Otto Frank wisely remained behind in the infirmary in the main camp at Auschwitz when the camp was evacuated and he was the only one of the 8 people in the annex who survived. According to Melissa Müller's book, Otto Frank was among only 45 men and 82 women on the September 3, 1944 transport of 1,019 prisoners to Auschwitz who survived to the end of the war.

Auschwitz was liberated by the army of the Soviet Union on January 27, 1945. The 7,650 prisoners who had stayed behind were kept in the camp for a few weeks until they were released and had to find their own way back home.

Otto began his journey home on March 5, 1945 and on the way he met a woman acquaintance, Elfriede Geiringer-Markovits, who was a survivor of Auschwitz. Her daughter, who also survived Auschwitz, had been a schoolmate of Anne Frank. Otto and Elfriede met again in Amsterdam and eventually married in November 1953. Otto continued his business at 263 Prinsengracht until he retired in 1955 and moved with his new wife to Switzerland.

Photo in Bergen-Belsen Museum shows young Auschwitz survivors

After seeing the exhibits on the top floor of the 263 Prinsengracht building and in the 265 Prinsengracht building, visitors then proceed to the modern building at 267 Prinsengracht. Modern steel staircases are used for the descent so that visitors don't have to go back down the steep stairs in the annex or in the building at 263 Prinsengracht.

The stairs in the annex are very narrow, about three feet wide, and as steep as a ladder. The individual stair steps are not deep enough to place your whole foot on the stair. I had to place my feet sideways on the steps in order to climb up. There is a hand rail only on one side. There would be a great potential for accidents if visitors had to go back down these steep stairs. It is hard for me to imagine how the residents of the annex carried coal and food up these steep stairs for over two years.

At the end of the tour, there is a guest book for visitors to sign and a clear plastic box into which one may put money for a donation to the Anne Frank Foundation. Most of the money in the box was American dollars and most of the entries in the guest book, when I was there, included American addresses.

Next, there is a room full of computers with interactive displays about the Holocaust. Tourists can also play with software which allows one to move the mouse of the computer for a virtual tour around the rooms of the annex. Using this software, I was able to see a photograph of the rear of the annex where there is a walled garden.

Afterwards, visitors can have a bagel sandwich in the cafeteria, where there was a display of photographs of Jewish girls, taken when they were the same age as Anne when she died. The bookstore has a large selection of postcards and books about Anne Frank in all the major languages. There is also a library table where visitors can sit and read some of the books about Anne Frank.

Cafeteria in modern building at 267 Prinsengracht overlooks street

At the end of the tour, I saw an interactive exhibit entitled "Out of Line" which was in the building at 267 Prinsengracht. This was a special exhibit which was removed in 2003.

Regarding the Out of Line exhibit, the brochure says that:

(It) is an example of the attention being paid to current issues at the Anne Frank House - issues that are also being developed in educational materials for classroom use.

The Out of Line exhibit room had two movie screens, side by side, where short film clips about the issues of the day were being shown in September 2002. There were metal stools, which had been placed in a U shape around three sides of the room. In front of each stool was a metal stand with two buttons, one green and one red, which visitors could press to vote on what had just been presented in each film clip. As the votes were entered, green and red lights flashed on the ceiling to show how the people in the room had voted. The choice was between freedom of expression and the right to be free from discrimination. Freedom of expression got the green light and the rights of minorities got the red light. The brochure about the exhibit pointed out that "many western countries have laws forbidding the public expression of discriminatory or racist sentiments."

This quote is from the Out of Line brochure:

We're asking you, the visitor, to consider these real cases of clashing rights and to make a choice and take a stand. Is there a limit to freedom of expression in a democracy, and if so, where do you think the line should be drawn? In this exhibition, you and the other visitors will decide where to draw the line, based on examples.

While I was there, the visitors used the red light to vote against freedom of expression on most of the examples. There were only two issues that got the green light: One was the right of hip-hop artist Eminem to freely express himself even though his lyrics are offensive, insulting and humiliating with regard to women and gays. The other was the right of a TV advertiser to show a teenaged boy with half of his face burned by fireworks. The TV ad depicts a scenario where the boy has trouble making friends because his face has been marred by a fireworks accident, an implication which is an insult to the physically handicapped. On all other issues, the visitors were unanimous in condemning any freedom of expression which insults or discriminates against minorities.

After visiting the Anne Frank House, many tourists go to the Westerkerk plaza to have family members take photographs of them standing by the statue of Anne Frank, which is at the corner of Prinsengracht street and the Plaza. I had to wait a long time for my turn to take the photograph of the statue which you see below.

Statue of Anne Frank is favorite spot for tourist photographs

The brochure, which visitors receive with their ticket, ends with these words about the purpose of the Anne Frank Foundation:

Furthermore, the Anne Frank House trains and advises schools, businesses, and other organizations in the field of multicultural policy making. The educational mission is also carried out internationally by means of teaching materials and traveling exhibitions. Sister organizations are active in New York, London and Berlin.

To contact the Anne Frank Foundation, one can write to this address:

Anne Frank House, P.O. Box 730, 1000 AS Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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This page was last updated on March 16, 2009