This weekend I went on a trip to my beloved Amsterdam and once again, it was amazing.
I won’t talk about it from the point of view of a tour guide because I want you to experience it by yourself; I’d rather tell you about the little things that make my trips so special.
When I visited it for the first time, I happened to be so unlucky that I got an infection in my eye and had to walk around the city half blind, managing to survive the crazy bikes that try to run over you at every corner. What I didn’t manage to see properly was the Anne Frank House.
This time, I was back and freezing on that super long queue (it’s one of the three most visited museums in Amsterdam) but the wait was worth the cold.
I read Anne’s book when I was 15 years old, the age she died at Bergen-Belsen camp in 1945. Her diary was, and still is the most well-known and emotional example of the Holocaust period and thanks to her wonderful writing and way to appreciate life plus the help of all the people supporting her story and her father – who was the only survivor after someone betrayed his family and they were taken to the camps –, the hiding place or Secret Annex was saved from demolition and became a museum in 1960.
I won’t give away any more details about the museum or Anne’s diary as I believe experiences are worth much more than words and I just wouldn’t dare to summarise it all in such short space of lines so I decided to focus on one of their temporary exhibitions called Free2Choose, which I was most amazed by.
This is an interactive film exhibition and educational programme on conflicting human rights. In other words, we all know what human rights are but no right is absolute. There are few short films with up-to-date examples from around the world that show how human rights can come into conflict with each other or with the democratic rule of law. At the end, the visitors are given the chance to vote for/against the question with immediate statistics on the answers of everybody in the room and after the overall opinion from every person that ever voted at this exhibition. There was the example of a band that got into trouble because of the homophobic lyrics in their songs. Now we think, of course this is a bad thing but some people can disagree because it would be violating the rules of freedom of speech. What about those crucifixes above the blackboard at school? I had it in my classroom during seventh grade and always wondered what it was like for kids of other religions to see it up there. Army and neutrality, LGBT rights, internet and censorship – the result of the votes in itself is not as important as making the visitors think about these matters and reconsider their views on what human rights actually are and how they directly affect people like you and I, every day.
Anne Frank wasn’t the only one who suffered the Holocaust, a period in which the Jewish, the Romani, the gypsies, the gays, the ones who were against Nazism and many others were denied of any rights. The worst is that discrimination is still not part of the past but some keep closing their eyes to it and let it happen.
As said by George Bernard Shaw: “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past but by the responsibility of our future”. And by knowing about the past, by knowing how much these people suffered as a result of human’s ignorance, then is when we know that something was really wrong and shall not be repeated.
Hate won’t bring us anywhere so… for Anne, for all, respect.