Although much has changed since Anne Frank House first opened its doors in 1960, a lot has remained the same. Even the building itself underwent major reconstruction in the early nineties in order to reflect its original pre-war state as accurately as possible.
Over the years, the events of the Second World War have increasingly been relegated to the annals of history. As the generation who survived the war dies out, the stories that this generation of young people hears about the war are no longer told by their parents or even grandparents.
For that reason alone, Anne Frank House considers itself charged with an important educational role. It tells the story of the murder of the six million Jews who died during the Second World War by focusing on the fate of the few victims who hid there.
Otto’s vision for the organization that bears his daughter's name was that it would become a place for young people and an international meeting point.
Although Anne Frank House has become more of a museum over the years, its popularity with young people the world over means that, in a certain sense, it still maintains its role as international meeting place for youth.
The most noticeable change over the years, and in fact a source of constant change, has been the steady increase in the number of visitors. The immense public interest in the museum is also reflected in the number of celebrities, both national and international, who have visited Anne Frank House over the years.
From top to bottom: Otto Frank shows Queen Juliana the movable bookcase; Hillary Rodham Clinton during a visit to Anne Frank House; Yasser Arafat visiting Anne Frank House.
The reason for the international phenomenon that is Anne Frank House is difficult to ascertain. Is it due to the eloquence of Anne’s diary? The travelling exhibitions and many other activities that the Foundation organises abroad? Or the memory – which has never fully been processed – of the horrors of the Second World War?
But perhaps the reasons are best expressed by the visitors themselves. These are just a few out of thousands of reactions written by visitors at the end of the tour:
- "Our second time here – the changes are good as the house is now more educational." (May 6, 2009)
- "An excellent + moving exhibition, especially for my 2 children." (May 29, 2009)
- "(…) a very moving, friendly and informative place. I would happily come again." (June 6, 2009)
- "A place in which there is still life after 'death'." (June 16, 2009)
- "Excellent museum. Eye opener. Well kept. Well worth to come again." (July 28, 2009)