You shouldn't miss seeing and experiencing this typical Amsterdam canal house, with steep interior stairs, where eight people from three separate Jewish families lived together in near silence for more than 2 years during World War II. The hiding place in Het Achterhuis -- literally "the back house," but more commonly translated as "The Annex" -- that Otto Frank found for his family, the van Pels family, and Fritz Pfeffer, kept them safe until tragically close to the end of the war, when it was raided by Nazi forces and its occupants deported to concentration camps. It was in this house that Anne, whose ambition was to be a writer, kept her famous diary as a way to deal with both the boredom and her youthful array of thoughts, which had as much to do with personal relationships as with the war and the Nazi terror raging outside. Visiting the rooms in which she found refuge is a moving experience.

During the war, the building was an office and warehouse, and its rooms are still as bare as they were when Anne's father returned, the only survivor of the eight onderduikers (divers, or hiders). Nothing has been changed, except that Plexiglas panels now protect the wall on which Anne pinned up photos of her favorite actress, Deanna Durbin, and of the little English princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. As you tour the building, it's possible to imagine Anne's experience growing up in this place, awakening as a young woman, and writing down her secret thoughts.

In summer, you may have to wait an hour or more to get in. To avoid lines, get there as early as possible -- and while this advice isn't as useful as it used to be, it should still save you some waiting time. A better strategy if you're in town from mid-March to mid-September, when the museum is open until 9 or 10pm, is to go in the evening; it's usually quiet then. You won't need, or get, much time inside, but a half-hour should be enough to see what little there is to see -- and to pause for a moment to feel Anne's spirit in the rooms. Next door, at no. 265-267, is a modern wing for temporary exhibits.

Following Anne's Footsteps -- From 1933, when the Frank family left Germany to escape the Nazis, until they entered their Prinsengracht refuge in 1942, Anne lived at Merwedeplein 37 (tram: 4, 12, or 25), in the south Amsterdam Rivierenbuurt (River District). A bronze statue of Anne was unveiled on the square in 2005. Her father Otto bought Anne's diary as a present for her 13th birthday around the corner in a shop at Rooseveltlaan 62 (the street was known as Zuider Amstellaan at the time).