I read Anne Frank’s Diary when I was a young girl – about the same age as Anne was when she went into hiding with her family to try to avoid Nazi persecution. Eight people lived in this small apartment in the back of a warehouse for 25 months, relying on the bravery of others to survive. Anne’s experience, expressed in her own words, made an enduring impression on me. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be Anne in those tumultuous, dangerous times. The combination of boredom and fear would have been overwhelming, yet the strength, courage and optimism exhibited by her in her diary is both moving and inspiring.
I have wanted to see the Anne Frank House ever since I first read her diary, long before my first trip to Europe. When my kids were young and we were planning a trip to Europe with them, I read The Diary of Anne Frank to them in anticipation of visiting Amsterdam. Our plans for that trip ultimately didn’t take us to Holland but my aspiration to visit this poignant place never changed.
In 2010 I had the chance to travel to the U.A.E. and Egypt on an international business faculty tour. On my way to Dubai, I had a long layover in Amsterdam on New Year’s Day and I stored my bags at the airport and took the train into town. I really wanted to see the Anne Frank House on that short visit, but the tickets were all sold out. I spent a great day wandering the city, but did not get to visit the Secret Annex.
This trip to Amsterdam was different. One of my objectives for our time in Holland was to complete this journey that has been 40 years in the making. The world has fortunately changed dramatically since Nazis occupied the Netherlands and forced unreasonable and unacceptable restrictions on innocent Jews, simply because of their religion. But there is still undeniable and intolerable oppression in the world and we must learn from history. Visiting the Anne Frank House reinforces my understanding of the philosophy of The Golden Rule, taught by most world religions: Treat others as you want to be treated. Such persecution, discrimination and tyranny should never have occurred in the first place, but they did. Some of those who were forced to live under those conditions did their best to take care of one another. I want to learn from their encouraging example.
My international management students read a book called Travel As a Political Act by Rick Steves. It’s an excellent reminder that we are privileged to have the chance to travel. We should make the most of our opportunities and learn as much as we possibly can wherever we go. The Anne Frank House tells a terribly sad, yet ultimately inspiring story. I am grateful for having the chance to visit and be reminded of what I learned as a young girl – that kindness and courage are important under all circumstances, for all people.
I encourage you to go, learn, and grow from your travels! Feel free to reach out via email — We’re always available to talk about travel!!