Anne Frank's Amsterdam Home
(axonometric floorplan, links)
When they went into hiding on 6 July 1942, the Franks had to leave their apartment behind: 37-II Merwedeplein.
In 1933, when the Franks moved into this brand-new building, Anne stayed behind in
a few months at her grandmother's house in Aachen. The Franks were getting
the apartment ready and Margot was along in order to start school right away. Anne
arrived on Margot's birthday in February 1934. Their family of four had the full
use of this big, nice apartment for the next few years. For it's time, it had modern
ammenities: central heating, hot and cold running water, and a sink in the bedroom(s).
It also had a working fireplace, a balcony, and a bay window. There was a cabinet
hidden in the living room wall and sliding glass doors separated the living room
from the dining room.
The apartment included an extra room on the roof. It had a sink and a walk-in closet. You have to climb two flights of stairs from the rest of the apartment to get there. It has no bathroom. Perhaps it was meant as a guest room or a recreation room.
Probably in late 1938, her parents decided to start renting the room upstairs to people, in order to bring in some money. Anne described this in her short story, "Roomers or Subtenants." Over the years, there were four roomers, one after the other, right until the day they left (and he stayed after they left). Anne wrote that the family needed to rent the room because of financial difficulties. The roomer was also allowed into the rest of the apartment. At the very least, they needed to do this in order to give them access to the bathroom and kitchen, and for their coming and going outdoors. Likewise, the family was allowed upstairs in order to sit on the flat part of the roof. There are photos of Anne and Margot relaxing in the sun.
Anne called the upstairs room, "the big bedroom," so I wonder if she and Margot were sleeping up there, at 9 and 12 years old, or if her parents were, or if it was just for guests. Whoever was up there, there was another bedroom for them to move into: the second bedroom. But a few months later, things changed again.
By March 1939, the Nazis had made life for Grandmother ("Oma") very hard in Germany. Her health was also declining. She was somehow able to emigrate to the Netherlands to live near her daughter's family, On 10 May 1940, the Germans invaded the Netherlands, despite its neutrality. As the months went by, the Nazis enacted more and more restrictions on the Jews.
Oma got cancer in the summer of 1941, had surgery, and moved in with the Franks. In a letter to her cousin Buddy, Anne explained that she and Margot camped out every night in the living room. The family continued to rent the room upstairs to roomers. In late 1941, the apartment got another resident, a kitten who they named Moortje (MOORR-TEE). Meanwhile, Oma's health deteriorated further. She died on 29 January 1942. Presumably Anne and Margot then moved into the second bedroom.
Anne got her diary on her birthday on 12 June of that year. She was heaped with presents because her previous birthday had been overshadowed by her Oma's surgery and failing health. One of the presents on the dining room table that morning was her first diary. Anne wrote in it that she missed Oma every day.
Just a few weeks later, on Sunday, 5 July, while reading out on the balcony, a delivery was made that changed their lives: Margot had been called up for labor service in Germany! The grownups had already nearly completed a secret hiding place. They advanced the plan by ten days, moving there early the next morning. Later, writing in her diary from the hiding place, Anne described how that lazy fun Sunday turned very hectic and fearful.
All evening, their roomer would not leave the main part of the apartment! They had to act calm and quietly sneak out bundles to their friends to put in the hiding place. The next morning, they all awoke early and snuck out, leaving the roomer instructions about the cat. They also left a phony clue that they had escaped to Switzerland. He was dismayed!
Anne's father, Otto Frank, continued have a hand in running his businesses while in hiding. Records show that he paid the rent for their apartment until March 1943, nine months after going into hiding. People still believed they were in Switzerland, so it made some sense to outsiders to hold the property.
After the war, the family's sole survivor, Otto Frank, had no reason to expect the apartment to still be his. Of course, he had been unable to justify paying the rent very long after he was gone. He stayed with the Gies.
In 2005, the apartment was bought to be refurbished and decorated in 1930's decor. Some of the pieces were made or found to match items seen in photos of the Franks. The apartment will house one visiting writer per year: writers persecuted in their native countries. The restoration brought it back to the type of decor the Franks had or were likely to have (plus some modern conveniences like a refrigerator).
You can look at the restored rooms and imagine different moments with more realism. The restored dining room: imagine it as their roomer found their table: cluttered with dishes from breakfast because they obviously left in a hurry. You can look at the stairs and imagine when Anne's friends came to the door waiting and waiting. When the roomer finally answered the door, he showed them upstairs to the main part of the apartment: the Franks had clearly fled! There are other home scenes Anne described in her diary while they were still there, and then reminiscences while in hiding.
Dutch news stories have shown the apartment, inside and out:
Axonometric Floorplan (estimated)
Here is an axonometric floorplan of the main part of the apartment:
I drew this axonometric drawing by eye and deduction, not direct measurements. Axonometric drawings do not use perspective, but equal measurements. Measurements, such as the height of the doors are the same regardless of distance from the viewer's eye.
For clarity, the walls are cut off at door height and the doors are all one color. If you are curious about the curious entry stair arrangement, compare to a photo from outside and the photos in the links. The Franks had the run of the interior stairways, which were part of the apartment.
how the neighborhood looks today in the
|Also, the Joodsmonument allows you to explore this neighborhood to see the death toll of Jews in the Holocaust via their home addresses. For example, the three women living in the apartment above the Franks were killed, in Auschwitz, while the secret annexe was still undiscovered. Surely these are among the people Anne heard were taken away.|