2020 Annual Report

Anne Frank

2020 Annual Report

In the museum, in our publications, and in our (online) exhibitions, we tell the life story of Anne Frank in the context of the persecution of the Jews and the Second World War.

The museum had to close its doors...

As a result of the pandemic, the Anne Frank House closed its doors for the first time in March 2020. After being closed for more than two and a half months, people were able to visit the museum again from 1 June. The Anne Frank House complied with the coronavirus protocol of the museum association, for instance by adapting the signs inside the museum in observance of the one-and-a-half-meter distance, adopting additional hygiene measures and cleaning rounds, and reducing the number of visitors per fifteen minutes. Since the international visitors stayed away, there were enough tickets available, and many Dutch people seized the opportunity to visit the museum.

After the summer, the number of COVID-19 infections flared up again, and the Netherlands went into lockdown from 5 to 18 November. After that, the museum opened for another month until the third lockdown was implemented on 15 December. The Anne Frank House closed its doors again, this time for a longer period of time.

Number of visitors

The coronavirus crisis had major implications for the Anne Frank House. Visitor numbers plummeted due to the lockdowns and corona measures.

In 2019, the Anne Frank House welcomed a record number of 1.3 million visitors; in 2020, the number sank to 396,779 visitors.

Educational and introductory workshops

In 2019, 1,650 school groups from primary and secondary schools, teacher’s training colleges, and intermediate vocational schools participated in two-hour educational workshops in Dutch, German, or English. In 2020, there were only 316 workshops.

Museum visitors can start off their visit with an introductory workshop of half an hour. In 2019, we held 6,500 introductory workshops; in 2020, this number fell to 4,789. Still quite a high number, but with fewer people per workshop, in compliance with the coronavirus measures.

Evening visits for Amsterdammers

On Thursday evening 6 February and Friday evening 7 February 2020, the Anne Frank House opened its doors to Amsterdam residents. As in previous years, 2,000 Amsterdammers were invited to visit the museum for free. Both evening sessions were booked up in no time.

‘The visit came with an audio tour. And that was kind of fun because they were actually reading aloud, bits from the diary, but also just information about herself. In this one fragment, she says for example: Dad, it’s 8:30, you really shouldn’t run the water anymore. They had to be super-duper quiet for two years.’

Anne Frank House celebrates its 60th anniversary

On Sunday, 3 May 2020, it was sixty years to the day since the Anne Frank House opened its doors to the public on 3 May 1960. Otto Frank, Anne’s father and the only one of the eight people who had been in hiding in the Secret Annex to survive the Holocaust, laid the foundation for the preservation and opening of the building at Prinsengracht 263: as a warning from the past, with an eye to the future.

Otto Frank

Otto Frank was the driving force behind the publication of the diary written by his daughter and behind the opening of the Anne Frank House, his previous business premises and hiding place. In doing so, he was assisted by a committee of prominent Amsterdammers. The Anne Frank House organisation was established in 1957, and its main purpose was to preserve the hiding place and open it up to the public. And to promote Anne Frank’s ideals in the process. On Sunday, 3 May 1960, the moment had come, and the Anne Frank House opened its doors to the public.

‘I beg your forgiveness for not speaking from this House after today. You will understand that the memories of everything that happened here are too painful. I can only thank you all for the interest you have shown in coming here today, and I hope that you will continue to support the work of the Anne Frank House and the International Youth Centre, morally and in every other respect.’

60 years later

After the opening, the number of visitors to the Anne Frank House kept increasing almost continuously. From several tens of thousands in the first years to 1.3 million visitors in 2019. This trend was interrupted in 2020. The Anne Frank House, which always opens every day of the year, except for Yom Kippur, now closed its doors for extended periods. For the first time in sixty years, visitors were not allowed inside Anne Frank’s former hiding place. The 60th anniversary of the Anne Frank House was commemorated online.

Anne Frank’s 91st birthday

Friday, 12 June 2020, marked the 91st celebration of Anne Frank’s birthday. The Anne Frank House, which had opened again on 1 June, offered special introductory workshops, and every visitor received a special postcard. For young people, there was a meet and greet and a postcard signed by Luna Cruz Perez, who played Anne Frank in the Anne Frank video diary. On 12 June at 2 p.m., carillonneur Boudewijn Zwart played a musical ode on the carillon of the Westerkerk in celebration of Anne Frank’s birthday.

‘I shall not remain insignificant; I shall work in the world and for mankind!’

BankGiro Lottery extends partnership

In these corona-ridden times, the news was particularly welcome: the BankGiro Lottery extended its partnership with the Anne Frank House for five years. The BankGiro Lottery supports artistic and cultural initiatives. In 2020, its cultural partners in the Netherlands received €83,491,428, thanks to the Lottery’s nearly 750,000 participants.

Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House: 'We are delighted with this collaboration. The BankGiro Lottery lends valuable support to our museum, as with the renovation of the Anne Frank House in 2018, and it allows us to introduce the Anne Frank House and the story of Anne Frank to a wider audience.'

Online

Through its social media platforms and the website annefrank.org, the Anne Frank House reaches millions of people all around the world.

Social media

In 2020, we noticed that our social media strategy was paying off. We increased our efforts on Instagram and YouTube, essential channels for young people, by developing specific posts that appealed to people on a personal level. Anne Frank is (usually) our point of departure. On Instagram, the number of followers increased from 77,000 in 2019 to 137,000 in 2020, and on YouTube, the number of subscribers increased from 22,000 in 2019 to 135,000 in 2020. The Anne Frank video diary played a large role in the increase on YouTube. As a result, the total number of views of all videos on the channel rose significantly from 10 million to 18 million. Our Facebook fans remained loyal to our channel, and their numbers grew from 842,000 to 879,000 followers.

#3 in the Netherlands

At the end of the year, Somention presented the Top 10 of the best Instagram account in the Netherlands for 2020, based on independent research. Only Dutch brands or international brands with Dutch Instagram accounts were considered. The focus was on the engagement rate (the number of comments and likes per post divided by the number of followers) combined with the number of followers. The account of the Anne Frank House came third on the list.

Website

In 2020, the website attracted 8.7 million visitors, who watched an average of 3.5 pages in 7 minutes. Visits varied between 1.1 million in April and 0.5 million in December. Most of the visitors came from the United States (2.3 million) and the Netherlands (0.9 million), followed by Great Britain, Germany, Mexico, India, and Spain. As a consequence, the website was mainly (53%) read in English. 53% of the visitors accessed the site on their smartphones and 40% on their computers.

About 15% of the visitors spent more time on the website, with an average of 31 minutes. During their visit, they typically looked at almost everything about Anne Frank.

Online Knowledge Base

The Anne Frank House researches the history of Anne Frank in the context of the Second World War and the persecution of the Jews, and it has a wealth of information on the subject in the form of biographies, documents, photographs, film footage, research, and testimonies. We want to share all of this in-depth and layered information with our audience, and we want to do so in an innovative and accessible way: through the Online Knowledge Base. In 2020, we applied for a grant with the Mondrian Fund and were awarded the sum of €250,000. In 2021, we will start building the Online Knowledge Base.

New publication: After the Secret Annex

In November 2020, the book Na het Achterhuis ('After the Secret Annex') was published by Querido publishers. Based on in-depth archival research and the available testimonies, the book attempts to reconstruct what happened to the eight people from the Secret Annex: Otto and Edith Frank and their daughters Margot and Anne, Hermann and Auguste van Pels, their son Peter, and Fritz Pfeffer, after their arrest on 4 August 1944. By bringing together the available archival material, supplemented by witness statements and ‘circumstantial evidence’, the writer has made every effort to learn as much as possible about the camp experiences of these eight people. Moreover, he shows how the life stories of the main characters can be understood in the broader historical context of genocide and persecution by the Nazi regime.

Research

Bas von Benda-Beckmann, a historian who works at the Anne Frank House, wrote Na het Achterhuis and drew on the research into the camp experiences of the eight people from the Secret Annex conducted by the Anne Frank House since 2014. Bas von Benda-Beckmann: 'The research provided several new insights. We now know that Anne and Margot probably died in early February rather than in late March 1945, as had long been assumed. We publicised this finding in 2015. We have also learned more about the deaths of Hermann van Pels and his son Peter. Hermann van Pels was almost certainly murdered in one of the gas chambers in Auschwitz-Birkenau on 3 October 1944, and Peter died in Mauthausen on 10 May 1945, five days after the camp was liberated. He was so close and only 18 years old. The meticulous study of the conditions under which the people from the Secret Annex lived in the camps and how they died made their history even more tangible and even more painful.'

‘Historian Bas von Benda-Beckmann, staff member of the Anne Frank House, has made an admirable attempt to reconstruct life after the Secret Annex. Admirable, because he has supplemented the lack of sources referring directly to the people from the Secret Annex with testimonies of people with similar experiences. And when those testimonies are contradictory, or when the memories cannot be substantiated by other sources, Von Benda-Beckmann does not attempt to mask the gaps in the life stories.’