Amsterdam and Anne Frank

Good evening, hello… how’s it going?

Today was my last full day in Holland/Netherlands, and the weather actually turned out super nice. In the morning it looked like it was going to be pretty ugly but luckily it gave way to some really beautiful weather, with a dash of cold and a little bit of random snow. Couldn’t have asked for any better really.

Anyway with it being my last day I thought I should get myself over to Amsterdam, as I’ve spent the time so far in Den Haag (The Hague), with the exception of a few hours on the first day. Caught an Intercity train from Den Haag Central to Amsterdam Central, about 10 euro (on my handy “anonymous” dandy chip card thingy) and 30 mins. Arrived and realized I forgot to bring the pizza with me that I was thinking of having for lunch, so I went across the street to a great kebab place.

Full and happy, I decided to plan things out… I had a ticket that I bought (and Laura kindly printed for me) to the Anne Frank Museum at 2:20pm, so I didn’t have too much time… I wanted to go to one other museum but decided not to do that prior to Anne Frank, and I wanted to do a Canal Tour but same thing… so I walked around the city a bit, enjoyed the great atmosphere and all the canals around. Made my way up to the Anne Frank museum – saw it wasn’t too busy so asked if I could go in early, which they let me do.

I’m sure you probably have an idea of the story of Anne Frank, if not I highly recommend you look it up (and buy the book). I should say that I’ve now been to several museums and monuments to the Holocaust, multiple wars, genocides, and just about any other atrocity you can think of in Europe. I’ve seen horrible jail cells, sat in court a few feet away from a guy accused of orchestrating the death of thousands, etc, etc. I say that to say this… been there. Done that. Not in a bad way, and certainly not in a “I’m used to it way”.

I feel sadness when I see these things, and read about them. I feel anger towards those involved, and I am grateful for the information that is now available to us, and the organizations out there that work to avoid this sort of thing from happening in the future.

So, now that I’ve said that I can say this – I’ve wanted to see the Anne Frank museum since the beginning of the trip. It was one of the few “to-do’s” that got added in early on. I’ve read the book, I know the story, and obviously it connects to a huge event in history, but the feeling that I got from visiting this was very different to past museums.

As I walked through the house where Anne and her family stayed and read the excerpts from her diary, looked at the pictures, and watched the video of people talking about Anne, people who knew her at the time, it really hit me. This was a perfectly normal young girl, thinking of her now I think using the word “exceptional” is not uncalled for, but really not that different from most children her age – it could have been your sister, daughter or friend. And she experienced horrible, horrible things. I think when you attach a name, face and personality to it, it gets so much worse to think of. I mean I think of 7000 deaths and it doesn’t impact me in the way that thinking of this one girl does.

You can’t help but wonder… why? What good was done by removing this person from earth? Reading about her brief life in the camps… it’s horrible. It’s unfathomable. It hits you, and I think it hit a lot of people going through the museum. And it is a different experience walking through this knowing that she had walked through here, her family had lived there.

So my point is… well I don’t know if I have a point here. All I can say is that I’m desensitized to this now, and this managed to break through and hit me. If you’re ever in the area, I recommend you visit… and take your time, don’t get rushed by the groups moving through, and really think about it.

That was obviously a big part of my visit… I did also do a canal tour, walk around a bit more and visit some nice cafes before catching the train back to The Hague. Just as I got back into The Hague my iPhone buzzed to let me know that a new Pope had chosen, so I mentioned it to Laura and by the time I got back the TV was on to the news… we were supposed to meet some friends of theirs for dinner but wound up getting attached to the news and sticking around until the announcement was made and the new Pope made his speech.

I have to say, he seems like a very good pick. And his personality was really cool… I think he’s got the potential to make some great changes to the way things are done. I know he’s got quite a conservative background (I think everyone does at that level), but if there’s anyone that might push for some change to some of the norms, maybe it will be him.

I was talking to Laura about how religious documents can evolve… how the Bible already has evolved… for example, let’s look at a couple verses that may not apply quite as much anymore.

Exodus 21:7
“When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go free as male slaves do.”

Exodus 35:2
“On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the sabbath of complete rest to the LORD. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death.”

There’s more than just a couple out there. I think we evolve over time… women priests (a woman pope??!!)? Gay marriage? Contraceptives? I know he’s not going to go in and change it all, but even if some of his Cardinal appointments lean just a little to the left… you never know. It could be the first step.

Anyway I feel this entry has taken on a life of it’s own and covered a little too many subjects, so let’s wrap it up, shall we? Tomorrow I’m relaxing a bit, and spending a bit of time in Amsterdam before my flight at 6:40pm to Copenhagen, Denmark. The countdown is on! 7 countries to go! I can’t believe all this time has passed… but I am starting to get a little tired of moving around :p

So let’s leave it there! Whatever you’re up to today, see if you can work in a good deed or two. Or catch up on some history…

Have a good night 🙂