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While it is now a world-famous museum receiving around a million visitors yearly and the most visited building of its kind in Amsterdam, the present status of Prinsengracht stands in sharp contrast with its condition some 50 years ago, when the building was slated for demolition. A few days after having arrested its eight inhabitants on 4 August , the Nazis stripped the hiding place they found concealed behind a movable bookcase. It was common practise during the war years to confiscate every item from a hiding place once its Jewish inhabitants had been arrested and deported.
From hiding place to museum: The history of the Anne Frank House - Saved from demolition
As the only former resident of the Annexe to survive the war, Otto Frank returned from Auschwitz in June to find the Annexe empty and bare. Starting in and with the aid of his employees who helped him and his family during the war, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, Otto began to rebuild his businesses Opekta and Pectacon.
The Annexe remained empty. Johannes Kleiman left at his desk in the offices at Prinsengracht. By this time, the building at Prinsengracht and the properties adjacent to it were in a dilapidated state. The aging and poorly maintained canalside houses were no longer suitable for use as commercial premises.
In , Berghaus textile factory began buying up as many of the properties that constituted the corner of Prinsengracht and Westermarkt as possible in order to tear them down and build new premises.
If Berghaus had succeeded in gaining ownership of the whole block, it would have spelled the demolition of Prinsengracht Frank made a deal with Wessels that he would be given priority over any other buyer should Wessels decide to sell the property. As a result, Opekta bought the building from Wessels in for 22, Dutch guilders.
However, Frank lacked the funds necessary to renovate the building. In addition, Berghaus had already purchased the building next door at with plans to tear it down, which would have left Prinsengracht to literally cave in on itself. Otto Frank reluctantly sold the building to Berghaus in for 30, guilders.
This left Prinsengracht crumbling and deserted. By that time, the Diary of Anne Frank had become a worldwide phenomenon.
It had already been developed into a play and a film version was in the making. In , Berghaus decided to abandon its plans for a new factory on the site and donated the building at Prinsengracht to the Anne Frank Foundation on the occasion of its 75th anniversary. However, in the meantime, the adjacent buildings had been acquired by a property developer who wanted to build an eight-story apartment complex on the corner of Prinsengracht and Westermarkt.
"Playhouse 90" The Hiding Place (TV Episode 1960) - IMDb
What followed was a series of negotiations between the developer and the Foundation to purchase the entire block for an amount of , guilders. In reaction, Mayor of Amsterdam Gijs Van Hall stepped in by making a personal commitment to help raise the amount needed. He sent a written appeal to fifty thousand residents and organisations asking for donations to the cause. As a result, the municipal authority and the University of Amsterdam began working together to develop a plan to provide student housing on the corner of Prinsengracht and Westermarkt, and save Prinsengracht in the process.
The funds the University provided to pre-finance the project were enough for the Foundation to buy the entire block of houses and therefore preserve the buildings at Prinsengracht and After a great deal of delay, the plan was finally instituted, leading to the renovation of Prinsengracht and its opening to the public on 3 May