News World On This Day: The Anne Frank House opens to the public as a museum

On This Day: The Anne Frank House opens to the public as a museum

Inside Anne Frank's hiding place. Photo: Getty
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

It’s one of the most famous buildings in the world, known as the secret hideaway of young Jewish diarist Anne Frank.

On this day in 1960, it opened to the public.

But it wasn’t always assured. If it wasn’t for a community campaign, the house at Prinsengracht 263 in the Dutch city of Amsterdam would have been reduced to rubble.

The building’s Secret Annex, where Anne, her family and others hid from the Nazis for two years during World War II, was left empty at the request of her father Otto, who was the only one to return from Auschwitz.

On July 6, 1942, famous Jewish diarist Anne Frank went into hiding with her family in Amsterdam. Photo: Getty

After the war ended in 1945, the house and some neighbouring properties fell into disrepair.

Five years later, the owners of the Berghaus textile factory saw the derelict homes on the corner of the Prinsengracht and the Westermarkt as a chance to construct a new factory building.

Otto was devastated when the demolition plans were announced.

He had lost his entire family, and now he was about to lose his home.

At the time, he was renting the building from Wessels, the owner.

They agreed to a business deal to help save the property.

In 1953, Otto’s company Opekta bought the building from Wessels, but they lacked the funds for proper restoration work.

The house where Anne Frank lived in Amsterdam. Photo: Getty

The clock was ticking.

One year later, Otto reluctantly sold the building to Berghaus.

Demolition seemed inevitable and Otto had nearly given up hope.

But by that time, community support for his dream had grown and a group of locals made it their mission to save the building.

The Anne Frank House organisation was established in 1957 and its main purpose was to preserve the hiding place and open it to the public.

The Berghaus company eventually abandoned its demolition plans and in 1957 donated the former hiding place to the Anne Frank House organisation.

After a battle with property developers, which had snapped up neighbouring properties, the Secret Annexe was saved.

Following its public opening, the number of visitors to the house skyrocketed from several tens of thousands in the first years, to more than 1.2 million visitors a year.

It now operates as a writer’s house and biographical museum.