Anne Frank Foundation Slams Dutch 'Escape Room' Designed Like Her Family's Apartment

Owner rejects criticism from Anne Frank foundation, says room is 'educational' as part of game challenging visitors to escape.

Owner Thijs Verberne poses in Valkenswaard, on March 18, 2016 at the Escape Bunker, replica of the place where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in Amsterdam.
Owner Thijs Verberne poses in Valkenswaard, on March 18, 2016 at the Escape Bunker, replica of the place where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in Amsterdam.Credit: AFP

The Anne Frank foundation on Friday criticized an "escape room" game made to look like the Amsterdam apartment where the teenage Jewish diarist hid with her family from the Netherlands' Nazi occupiers during World War II.

According to its website, the recently opened Escape Bunker in the town of Valkenswaard, 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Amsterdam, has a room styled to look like the apartment. As part of the game, visitors are locked in and have to escape within an hour using teamwork, creativity and "out-of-the-box" thinking.

The Anne Frank foundation, which manages the museum in the canal-side house that includes the Frank family's hidden apartment, said the apartment was one of the places where the Holocaust, or Shoah, played out and said, "It shows very little empathy for survivors of the Shoah to use the annex as a backdrop for an escape room."

The bunker "creates the impression that hiding (from the Nazis) is an exciting game and if those hiding are smart enough they won't be caught," the foundation said, calling that impression historically wrong.

Thijs Verberne, the operator of the bunker, defended it in a telephone interview, calling the escape room "an educational experience."

Anne Frank became posthumously famous for the diary she kept while her family went into hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam. The Jewish teenager died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, shortly before it was liberated by Allied forces.

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