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The famous chestnut tree that once stood in the back garden of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam unfortunately succumbed to wood rot several years ago. However, as three hundred shoots have been successfully planted and lovingly nurtured in countries all over the world, the treasured white horse chestnut thankfully lives on.
A tangible reminder of the Second World War
It’s normally no longer necessary to obtain permission to fell a tree in the centre of Amsterdam, yet for the beloved chestnut tree that grew in the garden of the Anne Frank House, things were different. For many the tree, which Anne Frank made numerous references to in her celebrated diary, was a tangible reminder of the Second World War. Indeed, she twice mentioned the tree during tender moments shared with roommate Peter, “we both looked at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with tiny dew drops, at the seagulls and other birds who appeared as silver in their flight. That moved us both so much, we could barely speak,” and she once referred to the tree on her father’s birthday, “our chestnut tree is in full bloom, it’s covered with leaves and much more beautiful than last year. ”
In 1993 the chestnut tree was attacked by a fungus that causes wood rot and its health began to deteriorate dramatically. The municipality of Amsterdam tried everything in their power to save the tree, but when it eventually threatened to topple over in 2007, they were forced to apply to have it felled. The felling of the tree was successfully challenged in court by various interested parties, but nature ultimately took its inevitable course and the tree blew over during a storm in 2010.
Luckily all was not lost, as a tree nursery in Groningen had already begun cultivating shoots from the crown of the well-known chestnut tree in 2005. The Anne Frank Foundation decided to offer a cutting to every Anne Frank School in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and France – an action that led to an unprecedented surge of requests from other institutions, including the Flower Festival Commemorative Park in Japan, the Anne Frank Center in New York, the Bos der Onverzettelijken in Almere, the Witte Kinderbos in Belgium, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Juan Carlos I Park in Madrid. The foundation happily agreed and the cuttings were subsequently exported to all corners of the globe, where the Anne Frank tree now flourishes for future generations!
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