Saplings from Anne Frank’s tree take root in US

Saplings from the chestnut tree that stood as a symbol of hope for Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis for two years in Amsterdam are being distributed to 11 locations in the US as part of a project that aims to preserve her legacy and promote tolerance.

The tree, one of the Jewish teenager’s only connections to nature while she hid with her family in a secret annex in her father’s company building, was diseased and rotted through the trunk when wind and heavy rain toppled it in Aug 2010. However, saplings grown from its seeds will be planted starting in April, when the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis will put the first one in the ground.

The 11 US locations, which also include a park memorialising victims of the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attack in New York City, an Arkansas high school that was the heart of the desegregation battle and Holocaust centres in Michigan and Washington state, were chosen from 34 applicants by The Anne Frank Center USA.

Winners were selected based on their commitment to equality, demonstration of the consequences of intolerance, or historical significance to civil rights and social justice in the US, according to a news release from the centre.

“The heart of our mission is tolerance... Tolerance is really essential for being able to bring better welfare to everybody,” said centre spokesman Mike Clary.

The tree is referenced several times in the diary that Anne Frank kept during the 25 months she remained indoors until her family was arrested in Aug 1944.

“Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs,” she wrote on Feb 23, 1944.

“From my favourite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind.”

Her father, Otto Frank, was the only member of the family to survive the concentration camps, and upon his return to Amsterdam, he was presented with the diary, which had been saved by a family friend who had helped hide the Franks.

The diary was first published in 1947 and has been translated into many languages and adapted for the stage and screen.

A global campaign to save the chestnut was launched in 2007 after city officials deemed it a safety hazard and ordered it takendown.

The tree was granted a last-minute reprieve after a battle in court, but age and nature ultimately brought it down.

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