Anne Frank-themed 'escape room' criticized

By Eric DuVall  |  Updated March 18, 2016 at 6:36 PM
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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, March 18 (UPI) -- The Anne Frank Foundation is criticizing the operators of an "escape room" attraction built to mimic her family's hidden Amsterdam apartment during World War II.

The private business invites participants to put themselves in the place the Frank family and other Dutch Jews found themselves when Germany invaded in May, 1940.

"You have to make a choice: go into hiding and to stand in the shoes of Anne Frank or, if you choose it, to fight against the Germans and go into the trenches," the escape room's website says. "You will come face to face with proverbial walls like puzzles, codes and quests for objects. Choose wisely, because who knows what will be the next step of the Germans."

The Anne Frank Foundation said the attraction, one of a growing number where participants are locked in a room and must solve a series of puzzles to win, shows "little empathy" for what Holocaust survivors had to endure.

"It shows very little empathy for survivors of the [Holocaust] to use the annex as a backdrop for an escape room," it said in a statement.

The owner of the attraction, Thijs Verberne, 19, tells the website DutchNews.dl the attraction is not meant to insult anyone and is actually educational.

"You've got a book, museum, films and a musical so why not a game?" he said. "You learn about what Anne Frank went through."

The attraction is built inside a World War II bunker in the southern Dutch town of Valkenswaard.

A spokeswoman for the Anne Frank Foundation told the website the attraction is historically inaccurate and offensive.

"It gives the impression that going into hiding is an exciting game and if the people involved were clever enough, they would not have been caught," spokeswoman Maartje Mostart said. "This is both historically and educationally wrong and insulting to those who really did have to go into hiding because of the persecution of the Jews."

The Diary of Anne Frank was written by the young girl as she and seven others lived in a hidden apartment in Amsterdam before being given away by an informant. Her father, Otto Frank, survived the Holocaust and his daughter's diary has become one of the most-read pieces of literature in the world.

Anne Frank died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp shortly before it was liberated by the Allies at the end of World War II.

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