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While in Berlin, you have the chance to visit the Anne Frank Zentrum (Centre), the German version of the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam.
It is found in the city centre, in Rosenthaler StraBe, to be precise.
It is really worth visiting its permanent exhibition which has welcomed visitors for the last few years with the words: “Anne Frank. Today and here”. They start you off on a detailed tour of this young writer’s life, author of the most read personal diary in history. It is the first time that the memory of Anne Frank has had a fixed home in the German capital.
If you have read the book you will know that during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, lasting from July 1942 until August 1944, the family of the Jewish trader Otto Frank, together with the Van Pels family and a friend, Fritz Pfeffer, were in hiding in the outhouses at the back of a house. The daughter of Otto, Anne, turned thirteen years of age hidden in this secret refuge and from the day she arrived there, wrote a diary which related the story of her days in hiding from the point of view of the child she was. Anne named the refuge “The House at the Back” and dedicated her diary to an imaginary friend she invented called Kitty.
The few friends who knew of the hiding place helped the family survive the whole time, supplying them with provisions and everything necessary to turn the refuge into a home. However, on the 4th of August 1944, when all the house’s inhabitants were carrying out their chores in the necessary silence, an SS official and three Dutch policemen entered the refuge. Someone had informed on the Franks.
They were all deported to concentration camps, and only the father of the family, Otto Frank, survived. On his return to Amsterdam, a neighbour handed him Anne’s diary and he decided to let the world know what was written on its pages.
The exhibition is divided into three parts. In the first, you can follow Anne’s life in chronological order, through some of her personal objects, archive photos and photos from the Frank’s family album. Following Anne Frank’s life is also a way to inevitably study the history of Nazism.
The second part of the exhibition displays recordings of five young people from Berlin speaking to a camera and explaining their opinions on themes that appear in Anne Frank’s diary: identity, dreams for the future and war.
The third and last section is based on the famous diary and tries to analyse why it still generates such interest. The explanation which most stands out centres on the quality of the writing. It is an intimate diary of adolescence, finishing incisively, with a truly tragic end.
It is well worth visiting the centre and its permanent exhibition. As well as offering details of the life of Anne Frank, it allows you to gain a new perspective of the Second World War and the experiences during it of the German Jewish community.
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