The Stairway for Safety

There are many staircases I’ve walked up and down without a second thought, and yet I remember stepping up the hidden stairway in Amsterdam with such sobriety.

The annex, now transformed into a museum to recreate and highlight those years that Anne Frank’s family, Hermann and Auguste Van Pels, their son Peter and the last of the group Fritz Pfeffer spent in hiding.


I remember at the age of fifteen waiting in a line for my chance to see the bookcase that maintained their safety from 1942 through to 1944. My first thought at seeing it was shock at how small it seemed. How, as doorway, it was low and thin.

Then the Stairway.

I remember even then wondering how people got up those initial steps. Cramped and thin, it was almost a metaphor for the conditions these eight people were going to find themselves in until their unfortunate capture. ‘Unfortunate’ of course seeming too pathetic a choice of word to really express that horrendous moment.

The small steps barley held my size six feet, leading me to believe they must have been strengthened over the years for tourists. However, moving aside from the repairs and alterations that time and use deem necessary, the small steps matched the steepness of that first stairway, leading of course to another.


It appears to simply be a normal ‘stairway’, leading up, just as in a usual home. But these steps didn’t feel that way. The whole Stairway didn’t feel that way. It was suffocating.


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