Stroll through History: The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

"I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn." (from "The Diary of Anne Frank")

In July 1942, 13-year-old Anne Frank (see below) and her family started a life in hiding to escape Nazi persecution. "The Diary of Anne Frank," written over the course of two years by a sensitive girl experiencing both fear of death and hope for the future, has captured the hearts of people around the world.

"The Anne Frank House," as their secret hideaway is now known, is located beside one of the canals that crisscross the centre of Amsterdam. Although the exterior has been renovated, the interior remains almost as it was back when Anne lived there.

The Anne Frank House contains an "official house" and a "hidden house." If you climb a steep flight of steps to the third floor of the "official house" and move a bookcase on the landing, you will find yourself at the entrance of the secret annex where Anne lived in hiding.

Inside, the dim room feels a little cool. The large window in the room is covered in black to keep the neighbours from seeing in. On the wall is a poster of a movie star whom Anne liked, as well as marks that show she measured her height. Anne grew 13 centimeters in two years.

The horse chestnut tree in the backyard, which Anne used to gaze at through a gap in the curtain, no longer remains - it was felled by strong winds five years ago. But a new sapling has emerged from the remaining trunk and reached a height of 1.5 meters.

When the anti-Semitic Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, German-born Anne and her family fled to Amsterdam.

Jacqueline Van Maarsen, now 86, was Anne's best friend at their Jewish middle school. She said: "Anne was so bouncy and a chatterbox. She stood out." They spent every day together, reading and watching movies.

But Anne suddenly disappeared without saying good-bye. It was the day she and her family went into hiding.

Anne wrote about her hatred of the war and the Nazis, rebelliousness toward her mother and her small romance, and swung from joy to sorrow as she listened to the course of the war on the radio. "One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we'll be people again and not just Jews!" (from "The Diary of Anne Frank")

Despite their hopes, in August 1944 Anne and the others were discovered by the Nazis and taken to a concentration camp. It is thought that Anne developed typhoid fever and died the following year, just several months before the surrender of Germany.

Nearly 1.2 million people visit the Anne Frank House annually, with 30,000 visitors from Japan every year. Many students come on school trips to witness an important symbol of the misery of war and racial discrimination.

Annemarie Bekker, spokesperson for the Anne Frank House, said: "The image of Anne, a girl who grew strong in a severe environment, calls out for sympathy. The cruelty of getting killed just for being a Jew really adds weight to Anne's words."

Anne dreamed of becoming an author and writing novels, but her short life of 15 years kept her from realizing her dream.

However, since her death, translated editions of "The Diary of Anne Frank" have been published in about 70 countries, achieving sales of over 35 million copies. She has become an author known around the world.

Maarsen said: "Anne did say she wanted to become famous, but her fame came in an absurd way - through her death. The ethnic cleansing and religious persecution which she called on to end are still ongoing in the world. I wish people would truly listen to Anne's words."

I wonder what Anne would think of the world if she saw it today, 70 years after her death?

Site of communal life for 8

The "Anne Frank House" is a four-story house built in 1635. Anne's father, Otto, ran a company that made raw materials for jam. The house was used as his company's office and warehouse.

The third and fourth floors were partly renovated so that Anne's family could use them as a place to live in hiding.

It also has an attic. The bathroom and toilet have been left as they were in the 1940s. Besides the four members of the Frank family, four other people lived together with them.

In 1944 all eight of them were captured and taken away. But an employee from Otto's company kept Anne's diary, which had been left behind in the room.

Otto, the only survivor in the family, returned to Amsterdam in 1945 and published "The Diary of Anne Frank" in 1947.

The Japanese translation was published in 1952. The Anne Frank House was opened to the public in 1960. It is currently a museum.

At the start of last year in Japan, pages were torn from "The Diary of Anne Frank" in libraries in Tokyo, Yokohama and other cities.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Anne Frank House in March to apologise to the director of the museum.

Anne Frank

Anne was born in June 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany, as the second daughter to German-Jewish parents. In 1933, after Hitler's Nazi Party rose to power, the Franks moved to the Netherlands. The family went into hiding in July 1942 following the German occupation of the Netherlands.

Anne was arrested two years later and died in a concentration camp in northern Germany.

It had previously been thought that Anne's death came in March 1945, but the Anne Frank Foundation announced this March that, based on the testimonies of survivors from the concentration camp, she may have died in February 1945.

Guide to the Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House is a 20-minutes walk from Amsterdam Central Station. The station is a neo-Gothic redbrick building known for its resemblance to the Marunouchi side of Tokyo Station.

Located approximately 30 kilometers southwest of the Amsterdam Central Station is Keukenhof Park. More than 7 million tulips in bloom can be seen during the park's annual opening from March to May. The park is about an hour and a half away from the station by train and bus.

There are direct flights from Narita Airport and Kansai International Airport to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, the gateway to the Netherlands.